Appeal from the 180th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1465625
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Brown and
Ismael Sanchez appeals from his conviction for the theft of a
motor vehicle, contending that the State did not introduce
sufficient proof of the vehicle's value. We conclude that
the proof is sufficient and affirm his conviction.
was indicted for the theft of a neighbor's 2000
Volkswagen Bug. See Tex. Penal Code § 31.03.
After a trial during which the defense rested without calling
witnesses, the jury found Sanchez guilty of the offense,
which was a state jail felony due the value of the car.
Sanchez subsequently pleaded true to enhancement allegations
concerning prior felony convictions, one for burglary and
another for indecency with a child. The trial court then
assessed Sanchez's punishment at 12 years'
of the Evidence Regarding Fair Market Value
offense for which Sanchez was tried and convicted, theft of
property valued between $1, 500 or more but less than $20,
000, was a state jail felony. See Act of June 17,
2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., ch. 1234, § 21, 2011 Tex. Gen.
Laws 3311 (amended 2015) (current version at Tex. Penal Code
§ 31.03(e)(4)(A)). On appeal, Sanchez contends that the
State did not introduce sufficient proof of the Volkswagen
Bug's value. The State produced evidence of the
vehicle's value from the owner and from the investigating
Standard of review and applicable law
apply the standard for sufficiency of the evidence
articulated in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307
(1979). Gear v. State, 340 S.W.3d 743, 746 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2011); Pena v. State, 441 S.W.3d 635, 640
(Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2014, pet. ref'd). Under
this standard, we consider all the proof in the light most
favorable to the verdict and determine whether, based on the
proof and any reasonable inferences the proof permits, a
rational juror could have found the essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Gear, 340 S.W.3d at
746. We cannot substitute our judgment for that of the jury
by reevaluating the weight or credibility of the evidence; we
defer to the jury's resolution of conflicts in the proof,
weighing of the testimony, and drawing of reasonable
inferences from basic facts to ultimate facts. Isassi v.
State, 330 S.W.3d 633, 638 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010).
part, the theft statute classifies offenses into different
categories of misdemeanors and felonies based on the value of
the property stolen. "Value" under the theft
statute is "fair market value" at the time and
place of the offense, if the property has an ascertainable
fair market value. Tex. Penal Code § 31.08(a)(1).
"Fair market value" is not defined by the statute;
the courts have construed the term to mean the amount the
property would sell for in cash, given a reasonable time for
the sale. Keeton v. State, 803 S.W.2d 304, 305 (Tex.
Crim. App. 1991); Infante v. State, 404 S.W.3d 656,
661 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, no pet.). There is
no one particular method of proving fair market value.
Keeton, 803 S.W.2d at 305; Robalin v.
State, 224 S.W.3d 470, 475 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st
Dist.] 2007, no pet.). Methods of proof include an
owner's valuation and a non-owner expert's opinion.
Keeton, 803 S.W.2d at 305; Ray v. State,
106 S.W.3d 299, 301 (Tex. App.- Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, no
State tried to prove the value of the stolen car through the
testimony of its owner. An owner need not be an expert to
opine on the value of her own property. Sullivan v.
State, 701 S.W.2d 905, 908 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986);
Anderson v. State, 871 S.W.2d 900, 903 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1994, no pet.). Nor is she required
to explicitly state her opinion in terms of its market value.
Sullivan, 701 S.W.2d at 908-09. Instead, it
generally is presumed that a property owner's valuation
testimony concerns fair market value. Sullivan, 701
S.W.2d at 909; Sanders v. State, 814 S.W.2d 784,
785-86 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1991, no pet.). Thus,
an owner may testify in general and commonly understood
language about her property's value, and this testimony
is sufficient proof for a jury to determine the
property's value based on the owner's credibility.
Sullivan, 701 S.W.2d at 909; Ray, 106
S.W.3d at 301-02. For example, an owner's testimony about
the property's replacement cost may reasonably be
understood as an opinion about its fair market value.
Sullivan, 701 S.W.2d at 909; Trammell v.
State, 511 S.W.2d 951, 954 (Tex. Crim. App. 1974).
Similarly, an owner may testify in terms of the
property's purchase price, provided that she purchased it
recently enough relative to its theft to permit a reasonable
juror to draw a conclusion about its value at the time of the
offense. Johnson v. State, 676 S.W.2d 416, 418 (Tex.
Crim. App. 1984); Anderson, 871 S.W.2d at 903. In
order to rebut an owner's testimony about her
property's fair market value, a defendant must do more
than impeach the owner's credibility; the defendant must
introduce controverting proof of the property's fair
market value. Sullivan, 701 S.W.2d at 909;
Sanders, 814 S.W.2d at 787.
State also tried to prove the value of the stolen car through
the testimony of the police officer who investigated its
theft. A qualified expert-someone with knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education-may express an opinion
concerning property's fair market value. Tex. R. Evid.
702; Sullivan, 701 S.W.2d at 908-09; Sandone v.
State, 394 S.W.3d 788, 791-92 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth
2013, no pet.). An expert need not personally inspect the
stolen property to opine on its value. Thomas v.
State, 621 S.W.2d 158, 160 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980);
McCrory v. State, 627 S.W.2d 762, 762 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1981, no pet.). He is qualified to
offer a valuation if he is acquainted with the fair market
value of property of the same character. Collier v.
State, 474 S.W.2d 240, 241 (Tex. Crim. App. 1971);
Foster v. State, 661 S.W.2d 205, 209 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1983, pet. ref'd). The expert
does not need to make a precise calculation of the
property's value; a general valuation suffices if it is
made in terms of the property's fair market value.
Thomas, 621 S.W.2d at 160. Thus, an expert may offer
an opinion consisting of a range of values based on the
values of similar products in a similar condition.
Zitterich v. State, 502 S.W.2d 144, 145 (Tex. Crim.
App. 1973); see McNiel v. State, 757 S.W.2d 129, 132
(Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1988, no pet.). He likewise
may base his opinion about a motor vehicle's fair market
value on his review of the Kelley Blue Book or
similar sources. See Cooper v. State, 537 S.W.2d
940, 943 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976); Esparza v. State,
367 S.W.2d 861, 862 (Tex. Crim. App. 1963).
challenges to property valuation require an objection during
trial to preserve the issue for appeal while others do not.
If the defendant did not object to the method of proving the
property's value at trial, he may not complain about the
method of valuation on appeal. See Moff v. State,
131 S.W.3d 485, 490-91 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004); Turner v.
State, 486 S.W.2d 797, 799 (Tex. Crim. App. 1972). The
same is true of objections to a witness's qualifications
to opine on fair market value; these objections must be made
in the trial court to be raised on appeal. See Moff,
131 S.W.3d at 490; McCrory, 627 S.W.2d at 763. But a
defendant convicted of theft may challenge the evidentiary
sufficiency of the stolen property's fair market value on
appeal regardless of whether he objected to the proof ...