State v. Dixon, No. 97-166.

Docket NºNo. 97-166.
Citation725 A.2d 920
Case DateJanuary 08, 1999
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

725 A.2d 920

STATE of Vermont
v.
April DIXON

No. 97-166.

Supreme Court of Vermont.

January 8, 1999.


725 A.2d 921
Dale O. Gray, Caledonia County State's Attorney, and Alan M. Singer, Deputy State's Attorney, St. Johnsbury, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Robert Appel, Defender General, Anna Saxman, Appellate Attorney, and Karen Misbach, Law Clerk (On the Brief), Montpelier, for Defendant-Appellant.

Stuart M. Bennett, Shelburne, for Amicus Curiae Vermont Apartment Owners Ass'n.

John J. McCullough III, Vermont Legal Aid, Inc., Montpelier, for Amici Curiae Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council and Vermont Tenants, Inc.

Present: AMESTOY, C.J., DOOLEY, MORSE, JOHNSON, and SKOGLUND, JJ.

DOOLEY, J.

Defendant April Dixon entered a conditional guilty plea to a charge of criminal trespass in violation of 13 V.S.A. § 3705(a)(1), after the district court denied her motion to dismiss. On appeal, she contends that the notice of trespass issued by a landlord is insufficient to sustain a conviction based on her presence in the common areas of an apartment building while on a visit to the daughter of one of the landlord's tenants. We agree and reverse.

The facts as assumed by the trial court in considering defendant's motion to dismiss are not in dispute, and we therefore summarize the pertinent determinations from the trial court's decision. Prior to the events at issue in this case defendant had been a tenant in an apartment building in St. Johnsbury owned by David Pezdirtz. The building contains 13 apartments, access to which is through a common hallway and stairs. Perceiving that defendant was responsible for certain disturbances that had occurred at the apartment building,1 Pezdirtz decided to ban defendant from the building and caused a notice against trespass to be served on her on October 18, 1996. Among those Pezdirtz informed of this action was Mary Noyes, a tenant in the building. Defendant maintained a friendship with Mary Noyes' daughter, Catherine Noyes, who was not herself a tenant but who was living in her mother's apartment on a temporary basis with the knowledge and consent of Pezdirtz. Police responded to a call at the apartment building on December 5, 1996 and found defendant standing outside of the building but on the premises. She told the police that she was aware of the trespass notice served on her at Pezdirtz's direction but that she was on the premises visiting friends.

Defendant was charged with trespass in violation of 13 V.S.A. § 3705(a)(1). Section 3705 of Title 13 states, in part, that:

(a) A person shall be imprisoned for not more than three months or fined not more than $500.00, or both, if, without legal authority or the consent of the person in lawful possession, he enters or remains on any land or in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
(1) Actual communication by the person in lawful possession or his agent or by a law enforcement officer acting on behalf of such person or his agent. . . .

Defendant moved to dismiss the action pursuant to V.R.Cr.P. 12(d), alleging that the State was unable to prove one element of the

725 A.2d 922
offense: that the landlord was "in lawful possession" of the apartment's parking area, and therefore authorized to issue the notice of trespass. The trial court denied the motion, and defendant entered a conditional plea of nolo contendere, reserving the right to appeal the denial of her motion to dismiss. This appeal followed

The standard for addressing a motion to dismiss for lack of a prima facie case under Rule 12(d) is "whether, taking the evidence in the light most favorable to the state and excluding modifying evidence, the state has produced evidence fairly and reasonably tending to show the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Fanger, 164 Vt. 48, 51, 665 A.2d 36, 37 (1995). We must determine whether the State met its burden in demonstrating that it had "substantial, admissible evidence as to the elements of the offense challenged by the defendant's motion." Id. (quoting V.R.Cr.P. 12(d)(2)). We agree with defendant that proof of the landlord's having issued a notice against trespass is insufficient to sustain a conviction in these circumstances.

When required to construe a statute, "our overriding objective must be to effectuate the intent of the Legislature." State v. Read, 165 Vt. 141, 147, 680 A.2d 944,...

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31 practice notes
  • State v. Schenk, No. 16–166
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 4, 2018
    ...produced evidence fairly and reasonably tending to show the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Dixon, 169 Vt. 15, 17, 725 A.2d 920, 922 (1999) (quotation omitted). The court concluded in a written order that defendant's conduct was the kind of threatening behavior proscri......
  • State v. Schenk, No. 2016-166
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 4, 2018
    ...produced evidence fairly and reasonably tending to show the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Dixon, 169 Vt. 15, 17, 725 A.2d 920, 922 (1999) (quotation omitted). The court concluded in a written order that defendant's conduct was the kindPage 4 of threatening behavior p......
  • In re Jason Allen D., No. 1457
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Special Appeals
    • July 12, 1999
    ...L.D.L., 569 So.2d at 1312-13 (emphasis added). A recent case from the Supreme Court of Vermont also provides guidance. In State v. Dixon, 725 A.2d 920 (1999), the landlord of a privately owned apartment building caused the issuance of a notice of trespass to a tenant of his building, becaus......
  • City of Bremerton v. Widell, No. 67451-5.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • June 6, 2002
    ...a specific prohibition by the landlord, is not a trespasser and does not violate a criminal trespass statute. State v. Dixon, 169 Vt. 15, 725 A.2d 920, 922 (1999) (citations omitted); see State v. Schaffel, 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 234, 229 A.2d 552, 562 (1966); Arbee v. Collins, 219 Ga.App. 63, 46......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • State v. Schenk, No. 16–166
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 4, 2018
    ...produced evidence fairly and reasonably tending to show the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Dixon, 169 Vt. 15, 17, 725 A.2d 920, 922 (1999) (quotation omitted). The court concluded in a written order that defendant's conduct was the kind of threatening behavior proscri......
  • State v. Schenk, No. 2016-166
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 4, 2018
    ...produced evidence fairly and reasonably tending to show the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Dixon, 169 Vt. 15, 17, 725 A.2d 920, 922 (1999) (quotation omitted). The court concluded in a written order that defendant's conduct was the kindPage 4 of threatening behavior p......
  • In re Jason Allen D., No. 1457
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Special Appeals
    • July 12, 1999
    ...L.D.L., 569 So.2d at 1312-13 (emphasis added). A recent case from the Supreme Court of Vermont also provides guidance. In State v. Dixon, 725 A.2d 920 (1999), the landlord of a privately owned apartment building caused the issuance of a notice of trespass to a tenant of his building, becaus......
  • City of Bremerton v. Widell, No. 67451-5.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • June 6, 2002
    ...a specific prohibition by the landlord, is not a trespasser and does not violate a criminal trespass statute. State v. Dixon, 169 Vt. 15, 725 A.2d 920, 922 (1999) (citations omitted); see State v. Schaffel, 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 234, 229 A.2d 552, 562 (1966); Arbee v. Collins, 219 Ga.App. 63, 46......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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