State v. Bettelyoun, #29329, #29330, #29445

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtKERN, Justice
Citation972 N.W.2d 124
Parties STATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Santana BETTELYOUN, Defendant and Appellant. State of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Jacob Ehret, Defendant and Appellant. State of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Zaven Osborne, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket Number#29329, #29330, #29445
Decision Date16 March 2022

972 N.W.2d 124

STATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee,
Santana BETTELYOUN, Defendant and Appellant.

State of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee,
Jacob Ehret, Defendant and Appellant.

State of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee,
Zaven Osborne, Defendant and Appellant.

#29329, #29330, #29445

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

OPINION FILED March 16, 2022

JOANNA LAWLER, OLE J. OLESEN of Pennington County Public Defender's Office, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendants and appellants Santana Bettelyoun and Jacob Ehret.

ERIC T. DAVIS, NATHANIEL F. NELSON of Nelson Law, Sturgis, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant Zaven Osborne.

JASON R. RAVNSBORG, Attorney General, CHELSEA WENZEL, PATRICIA ARCHER, Assistant Attorneys General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

KERN, Justice

972 N.W.2d 126

[¶1.] Santana Bettelyoun, Jacob Ehret, and Zaven Osborne, all minors under the age of 18, were charged as adults in separate cases before separate judges in magistrate court for driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08 in violation of SDCL 32-23-1(1). Each filed a motion to dismiss claiming that, because of their status as juveniles, the magistrate courts presiding over their cases lacked subject matter jurisdiction. They asserted that under the language of the applicable statutes, they could only be charged as children in need of supervision (CHINS) placing them under the exclusive jurisdiction of the circuit court. SDCL 26-8B-2. The magistrate courts dismissed their motions. Each appealed to the circuit courts, where the magistrates’ decisions were affirmed, and then to this Court. We consolidated Bettelyoun's and Ehret's appeals on September 8, 2020, because the relevant facts were not contested, and their issues involved identical questions of law. Likewise, Osborne filed an appeal raising the same issue. Accordingly, we consolidate all three appeals for resolution.


Facts and procedural history: Osborne

¶2.] While patrolling a stretch of the I-90 interstate in Meade County, South Dakota, on November 27, 2019, Deputy Sheriff Nicolas Forbes saw an eastbound vehicle shortly before midnight that appeared to be speeding. Deputy Forbes activated his radar and clocked the vehicle travelling at 79 miles per hour in a 75 mile per hour zone. When he caught up to the vehicle and initiated a stop, Deputy Forbes discovered that the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle was sixteen-year-old Osborne.

[¶3.] During the course of the stop, Deputy Forbes smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from the vehicle and observed Osborne's glassy, bloodshot eyes. After being asked to accompany Deputy Forbes to his patrol car, Osborne admitted to consuming alcohol. The officer administered a preliminary breath test (PBT), which revealed a BAC of .161. Due to the uneven terrain where they were located, Deputy Forbes administered a curtailed field sobriety test, which indicated that Osborne was impaired. Deputy Forbes arrested Osborne and transported him to the police station.

[¶4.] After obtaining a search warrant, Osborne's blood sample was collected and sent for testing which later revealed a .129 BAC. The Meade County State's Attorney charged him, on December 5, 2019, by complaint and information with alternative counts of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a Class 1 misdemeanor, in violation of SDCL 32-23-1(2), and driving while having .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in that person's blood in violation of SDCL 32-23-1(1).

[¶5.] In January 2020, Osborne filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction arguing that he could only be charged for driving while under the influence (DUI) pursuant to SDCL 32-23-21, often called the "zero tolerance" DUI statute governing juveniles, and that his case could only be heard in juvenile court under SDCL 26-8B-2 as a CHINS proceeding. The magistrate court denied the motion on May 21, 2020, issuing findings of facts and conclusions of law. The court concluded that the State had discretion to charge Osborne under either SDCL 32-23-1 as an adult in magistrate court or as a CHINS under SDCL 32-23-21 (zero tolerance).

[972 N.W.2d 127

Subsequently, on June 11, 2020, Osborne pleaded guilty to driving while having .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his blood in violation of SDCL 32-23-1(1). The magistrate court granted Osborne a suspended imposition of sentence.

¶6.] Osborne appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss to the circuit court pursuant to SDCL 15-38-22.1 The circuit court affirmed the magistrate court's decision, issuing a memorandum decision on September 21, 2020. The circuit court reasoned that because the Legislature did not list SDCL 32-23-1 in the definition of offenses that could be brought as a CHINS, as it did with SDCL 32-23-21, the Legislature did not "prohibit the State from exercising its discretion in charging a minor under SDCL 32-23-1" as an adult. Therefore, the circuit court held that the "Legislature's enactment of SDCL chapter 26-8B neither disrupted the State's discretion nor deprived magistrate courts of jurisdiction when someone under the age of eighteen is charged with violating SDCL 32-23-1." Osborne filed a notice of appeal of the circuit court's determination on October 22, 2020.

Facts and procedural history: Bettelyoun

[¶7.] Late in the evening of June 7, 2018, Rapid City Police Officer Jose Romero noticed a Chevy Trailblazer run through a stop sign while parked at an intersection on Kansas City Street in Rapid City. Officer Romero activated his lights and sirens and followed the vehicle. After a brief pursuit, the vehicle pulled over. Officer Romero directed the driver, seventeen-year-old Bettelyoun, to his patrol car. The vehicle had several passengers, and Officer Romero observed empty bottles of alcohol in the car.

[¶8.] As Officer Romero and Bettelyoun conversed in the patrol car, it became apparent to him that Bettelyoun was too impaired to drive. Bettelyoun gave an incorrect birth date, smelled of alcohol, was confused and emotional, and her breath registered a .177 on a PBT. Officer Romero arrested Bettelyoun who agreed to submit to a blood draw. After obtaining parental consent, Bettelyoun's blood was drawn and submitted for analysis, revealing a BAC of .189.

[¶9.] The State charged Bettelyoun by complaint and information in magistrate court with alternative counts of DUI under SDCL 32-23-1(2) and SDCL 32-23-1(1). Bettelyoun filed a motion to dismiss on September 24, 2018, challenging the jurisdiction of the magistrate court, arguing that she could be charged only in juvenile court as a CHINS. The magistrate court considered the briefs of the parties and entered a one-page order denying the motion. In its order, the magistrate court incorporated by reference and relied upon the authority contained in the written opinions of two other magistrate judges in the Seventh Judicial Circuit who had previously ruled on the same jurisdictional question. The magistrate court held that juveniles who drive under the influence of alcohol may be properly charged and convicted in magistrate court under SDCL 32-23-1.

[¶10.] On July 12, 2019, Bettelyoun filed a motion to reconsider, attaching a recently issued memorandum decision from a circuit court judge reaching a contrary result in a similar case and granting a motion to dismiss. In that case, the circuit court held that the relevant statutes unambiguously required the State to charge minors under SDCL 32-23-21 and to proceed

[972 N.W.2d 128

under the CHINS statute. Citing this opinion, Bettelyoun argued that SDCL 32-23-21 (zero tolerance) and its inclusion in the definition of a CHINS in SDCL 26-8B-2, stripped the State of discretion to prosecute a juvenile in adult court by charging a violation of SDCL 32-23-1. Both the State and Bettelyoun requested a written opinion from the magistrate court on the motion for reconsideration. The magistrate court denied the request by order dated July 12, 2019.

¶11.] After receiving the magistrate court's ruling, Bettelyoun pleaded guilty on December 12, 2019, to driving a vehicle while having .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in her blood in violation of SDCL 32-23-1(1). On December 17, 2019, the magistrate court granted Bettelyoun a suspended imposition of sentence. Bettelyoun then appealed the magistrate court's decision denying her motion to dismiss to the circuit court on December 26, 2019. After reviewing the briefs of the parties, the circuit court filed a one-page order affirming the magistrate court's decision. Bettelyoun filed a notice of appeal from the circuit court's decision on May 21, 2020.

Facts and procedural history: Ehret

[¶12.] During the early morning hours of January 19, 2019, a Rapid City Police officer noticed a Pontiac traveling on East Saint Patrick Street in Rapid City without a working headlight. After pulling the vehicle over, the officer saw that the driver, seventeen-year-old Ehret, had bloodshot, watery eyes and was chewing gum. The officer administered a field sobriety test, which Ehret failed. His PBT registered a .088. After obtaining permission from his mother, Ehret submitted to a blood draw, which later revealed a BAC of .103.

[¶13.] The...

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