Appeals Court (April 29, 2010)

The Commonwealth must prove that there was actual damage done to the property to support a conviction under G.L. c. 90, § 24(2) (a) for leaving the scene of an accident after causing property damage.

The defendant was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident after causing property damage after hitting a telephone pole with his car. The Commonwealth conceded during the trial that there was no proof of damage to the pole but argued successfully that damage to the property was not required under the statute because the word or makes the sentence disjunctive. The defendant appealed his conviction arguing that the Commonwealth is required to prove damage to sustain a conviction.

G. L. c. 90, § 24 (2) (a) reads:
Whoever without stopping and making known his name, residence and the register number of his motor vehicle goes away after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury to any other vehicle or property,….

The Court reversed the defendant's conviction ruling that based on the language of the statute, its purpose, and its construction, the Commonwealth is required to prove that the accident actually caused property damage to support a conviction under G.L. c. 90, § 24(2)(a).