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Hancock v. State

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Citation Edit

Hancock v. State, 402 S.W.2d 906 (Tex. Crim. App. 1966) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

The indictment alleged theft of fifty-nine documents, which consisted of computer program listings. The defendants were an employee of Texas Instruments (TI) and an employee of an insurance company. The defendants took the listings and attempted to sell them to Texaco. Texaco contacted TI and the defendants were arrested.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The issue presented to the court was whether the computer programs constituted corporeal personal property as that term is used in the Texas theft statute. The statute defines “property” to include, inter alia, “all writings of every description, provided such property possesses any ascertainable value.” The testimony indicates that the programs had a reasonable market value of approximately $2.5 million. The court found that the programs were property within the meaning of the statute.

The defendants also challenged their conviction on the ground that there was no evidence showing the market value of the computer programs. The court quoted a large portion of the testimony of a vice-president of TI, and the manager of the computer center at TI, and found that this evidence was sufficient to authorize a finding that the computer programs had a market value “in excess of $50.00 each.”

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