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NELSON v. STATE

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Court of Appeals of Georgia.

NELSON v. The STATE.

No. A13A2093.

Decided: February 25, 2014

Tobe Christopher Karrh, for Appellant. Samuel H. Altman, Kelly Anne Jenkins, for Appellee.

Ricky Nelson appeals following his conviction for theft by receiving stolen property,1 arguing in his sole enumeration of error that the trial court erred by charging the jury on theft by receiving as a lesser included offense of theft by taking. As more fully set forth below, we now affirm.

The pertinent facts show that on May 21, 2008, Jeanna Manders's van was stolen within minutes of her arrival at 101 Speering Street in Wrens, Georgia, where she was visiting. She reported the theft to police, and police issued a BOLO (Be on the Lookout) for the van. Police spotted Nelson driving the van the next day, stopped the van, and arrested Nelson.

Nelson was ultimately charged with several offenses, including theft by taking, and his case proceeded to trial before a jury. During the charge conference, the trial court asked Nelson's counsel if he wanted to request a charge on any lesser included offenses. Defense counsel responded “I'm trying to think of what lesser ․” and the trial court suggested the “one that comes to mind is theft by receiving stolen property.” Defense counsel then stated “I didn't request that because the theft by receiving stolen property and theft by—to me they're about synonymous, but I will at this time request theft by receiving stolen property,” and the State consented to the request. Defense counsel noted that he was “sort of stuck,” seeming to indicate that he did not have a specific charge to propose and suggested the trial court could “on its own look for that lesser” based on the evidence presented at trial. The trial judge declined, indicating that he did not usually give a charge on a lesser included offense unless it was requested, at which time the court and defense counsel then crafted the charge based on defense counsel's already filed written requests and the charges the judge had in his “system.” The trial court instructed the jury in accordance with the agreed upon charge, and neither the State nor defense counsel posed any objection to the charge as given.

Nelson now argues that theft by receiving is not a lesser included offense of theft by taking,2 and that, therefore, the trial court committed plain and obvious error by giving the requested charge because he was not separately charged with that offense, and it was not otherwise included within the allegations of the charging accusation.3 Marriott v. State, 320 Ga.App. 58, 62(1), 739 S.E.2d 68 (2013) (theft by receiving and theft by taking may be charged in the alternative); Adams v. State, 164 Ga.App. 295, 296–297(2), 297 S.E.2d 77 (1982) (separate counts setting forth theft by receiving and robbery are permitted).

Nelson recognizes that his failure to object at trial requires us to review the trial court's instructions to the jury only for plain error. Shaw v. State, 292 Ga. 871, 742 S.E.2d 707 (2013). But, even when plain error appears, which we do not decide here, reversal is not required if the defendant invited the alleged error. Shank v. State, 290 Ga. 844, 845(2), 725 S.E.2d 246 (2012). As the Supreme Court explained in Cheddersingh v. State, 290 Ga. 680, 682–684, 724 S.E.2d 366 (2012), affirmative waiver, which involves the intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right, as opposed to mere forfeiture by failing to object, prevents a finding of plain error.4 Here, Nelson requested that the trial court instruct the jury on theft by receiving as a lesser included offense of theft by taking and participated with the court in crafting the charge that was given. “A party cannot invite error by requesting a certain jury instruction, and then complain on appeal that the instruction, when given, is incorrect.” (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Bellamy v. State, 312 Ga.App. 899, 901(1), 720 S.E.2d 323 (2011). Accordingly, the trial court did not err by denying Nelson's motion for new trial on this basis.

Judgment affirmed.

McMILLIAN, Judge.

ANDREWS, P. J., and DILLARD, J., concur.

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