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WPIC 130.10 Written Instrument—Definition

11A WAPRAC WPIC 130.10Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Criminal

11A Wash. Prac., Pattern Jury Instr. Crim. WPIC 130.10 (5th Ed)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Criminal
December 2021 Update
Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions
Part XIII. Miscellaneous Crimes
WPIC CHAPTER 130. Forgery
WPIC 130.10 Written Instrument—Definition
“Written instrument” means any [paper, document or other instrument containing written or printed matter or its equivalent] [or] [access device] [or] [token, stamp, seal, badge, trademark, or other evidence or symbol of value, right, privilege, or identification].
Use bracketed material as applicable. Use WPIC 79.07 (Access Device—Definition) as applicable with this instruction.
If there is an issue for the jury regarding whether the basis for the alleged forgery is an “instrument,” an instruction may have to be crafted based on the common law definition of the term. See the Comment below.
RCW 9A.60.010(7).
The common law definition of “instrument” has been held to supplement the statutory definition of “written instrument” contained in this instruction. The common law definition of “instrument” is based on often-quoted language from State v. Scoby, 57 Wn.App. 809, 811, 790 P.2d 226 (1990), affirmed at 117 Wn.2d 55, 810 P.2d 1358, amended by 117 Wn.2d 55, 815 P.2d 1362 (1991): “[A]n instrument is something, which, if genuine, may have legal effect or be the foundation of legal liability.” See also State v. Smith, 72 Wn.App. 237, 864 P.2d 406 (1993) (check without a drawer's signature is not an instrument); State v. Aitken, 79 Wn.App. 890, 893, 905 P.2d 1235 (1995) (withdrawal slip using a false name is an instrument). A signed traffic citation has legal efficacy and, thus, is an instrument. State v. Richards, 109 Wn.App. 648, 36 P.3d 1119 (2001).
Because issues of legal efficacy will generally be for the court to determine, rather than the jury, the WPI Committee has not included the common law definition in the instruction. See State v. Smith, 13 Wn.App.2d 420, 464 P.3d 554 (2020).
An altered $1 bill with the corners of a $20 bill pasted onto it is a written instrument within the meaning of RCW 9A.60.010(7). State v. Scoby, 117 Wn.2d 55, 810 P.2d 1358, amended by 117 Wn.2d 55, 815 P.2d 1362 (1991).
[Current as of June 2020.]
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