608 N.W.2d 123 (Mich.App. 1999), 206833, People v. Noble

Docket Nº:Docket No. 206833.
Citation:608 N.W.2d 123, 238 Mich.App. 647
Opinion Judge:COLLINS, J.
Party Name:PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. James Robert NOBLE, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:[238 Mich.App. 649] Jennifer M. Granholm, Attorney General, Thomas L. Casey, Solicitor General, Barry L. Shantz, Prosecuting Attorney, and William E. Molner, Assistant Attorney General, for the people. State Appellate Defender (by Norris J. Thomas, Jr., and Sarah E. Hunter), for the defendant on ...
Judge Panel:[238 Mich.App. 650] Before: HOOD, P.J., and FITZGERALD and COLLINS, JJ.
Case Date:December 03, 1999
Court:Court of Appeals of Michigan
 
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608 N.W.2d 123 (Mich.App. 1999)

238 Mich.App. 647

PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

James Robert NOBLE, Defendant-Appellant.

Docket No. 206833.

Court of Appeals of Michigan

December 3, 1999

Submitted Aug. 3, 1999, at Detroit, at 9:00 a.m.

Released for Publication March 7, 2000.

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[238 Mich.App. 649] Jennifer M. Granholm, Attorney General, Thomas L. Casey, Solicitor General, Barry L. Shantz, Prosecuting Attorney, and William E. Molner, Assistant Attorney General, for the people.

State Appellate Defender (by Norris J. Thomas, Jr., and Sarah E. Hunter), for the defendant on appeal.

[238 Mich.App. 650] Before: HOOD, P.J., and FITZGERALD and COLLINS, JJ.

COLLINS, J.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of failing to stop at the scene of a serious personal injury accident, M.C.L. § 257.617; MSA 9.2317, and operating a motor vehicle while his license was suspended, M.C.L. § 257.904(1); MSA 9.2604(1). The trial court sentenced defendant to three to five years' imprisonment for the conviction of failing to stop and to ninety days for the conviction of driving with a suspended license. Defendant appeals as of right his conviction and sentence for failing to stop at the scene of a serious personal injury accident. We affirm.

This case arises from a single-vehicle accident. On the evening of February 6, 1997, defendant left the Sky Ranch bar in a pickup truck he had borrowed from a customer of the garage where he worked. He was carrying two passengers, Jose Acevedo and Harry Dalton. After traveling a short distance, defendant lost control of the truck, which entered a treed area off the road and rolled over. Dalton was ejected from the truck and suffered severe injuries to his face and neck. 1 Defendant left Acevedo and Dalton and proceeded to his employer's residence to retrieve a tow truck from the garage there. While defendant was gone, Acevedo helped Dalton back into the pickup truck. Without informing his employer of the accident or informing him that he was taking a tow truck from his garage, defendant took the truck, returned to [238 Mich.App. 651] Acevedo and Dalton, attached the pickup truck containing Dalton to the tow truck, and drove back to the Sky Ranch bar. When he arrived there, one of the bar employees called 911. Before the ambulance arrived, defendant and Acevedo left. Defendant returned the tow truck to his employer, and at that time told him that he had borrowed the truck to pull a woman's car out of a ditch.

Dalton was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. Because that hospital was not equipped to handle his injuries, he was transferred to the University of Michigan

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Hospitals. Dalton died approximately four weeks later as the result of a blood clot that obstructed the circulation of his blood.

Defendant first argues that his conviction must be reversed because M.C.L. § 257.619; MSA 9.2319 is unconstitutionally vague on its face and as applied to him. Although he did not challenge the constitutionality of the statute in question in the trial court, this Court may consider whether a statute is constitutional absent challenge below. People v. Wilson, 230 Mich.App. 590, 593, 585 N.W.2d 24 (1998). This Court reviews de novo the question of a statute's constitutionality under the void-for-vagueness doctrine. Id.

Statutes and ordinances are presumed to be constitutional and are so construed unless their unconstitutionality is clearly apparent. Id. at 593-594, 585 N.W.2d 24. A statute may be challenged for vagueness on three grounds: (1) that it is overbroad and impinges on First Amendment freedoms, (2) that it does not provide fair notice of the conduct proscribed, and (3) that it is so indefinite that it confers unstructured and unlimited discretion on the trier of fact to determine whether the law has been violated. People v. Hubbard (After Remand), 217 Mich.App. 459, 484, 552 N.W.2d 493 (1996). [238 Mich.App. 652] Defendant challenges the statute's constitutionality under the second and third grounds. To give fair notice, a statute must give a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, People v. Perez-DeLeon, 224 Mich.App. 43, 46, 568 N.W.2d 324 (1997), or required. See People v. White, 212 Mich.App. 298, 312, 536 N.W.2d 876 (1995). The statute cannot use terms that require persons of ordinary intelligence to guess its meaning and differ about its application. People v. Capriccioso, 207 Mich.App. 100, 102, 523 N.W.2d 846 (1994). A statute is sufficiently definite if its meaning can fairly be ascertained by reference to judicial interpretations, the common law, dictionaries, treatises, or the commonly accepted meanings of words. People v. Vronko, 228 Mich.App. 649, 653, 579 N.W.2d 138 (1998).

The relevant portion of M.C.L. § 257.617; MSA 9.2317, under which defendant was charged, provides as follows:

The driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he or she has been involved in an accident upon either public or private property, when the property is open to travel by the public, resulting in serious or aggravated injury to or death of a person shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall remain there until the requirements of section 619 are fulfilled. [Emphasis added.]

MCL 257.619; MSA 9.2319 provides:

The driver of any vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he has been involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended to by any person shall give his name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle [238 Mich.App. 653] he is driving, also the name and address of the owner, and exhibit his operator's or chauffeur's license to the person struck or the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with and shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance in securing medical aid or transportation of injured person or persons. [Emphasis added.]

Defendant argues that M.C.L. § 257.619; MSA 9.2319 is unconstitutionally...

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