State v. Hickam

Decision Date26 December 1995
Docket NumberNo. 15256,15256
Citation668 A.2d 1321,235 Conn. 614
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Wendy R. HICKAM.
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Carolyn K. Longstreth, Assistant State's Attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Kevin Kane, State's Attorney, and Paul Narducci, Deputy Assistant State's Attorney, for appellant State.

Edward E. Moukawsher, for appellee defendant.

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General, Aaron S. Bayer, Deputy Attorney General, and Gregory T. D'Auria, Assistant Attorney General, filed a brief, for Attorney General as amicus curiae.

Before PETERS, C.J., and CALLAHAN, BORDEN, BERDON, NORCOTT, KATZ and PALMER, JJ.

CALLAHAN, Associate Justice.

The sole issue in this appeal taken by the state 1 is whether the double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment to the United States constitution prohibited the criminal prosecution of the defendant, Wendy R. Hickam, for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of General Statutes § 14-227a(a), 2 after her motor vehicle operator's license had been suspended pursuant to General Statutes § 14-227b 3 for the same conduct. The state appealed from the judgment of the trial court dismissing the criminal charges against the defendant on double jeopardy grounds. The trial court concluded that the administrative suspension of the defendant's license pursuant to § 14-227b embodied an element of punishment that barred a subsequent criminal prosecution pursuant to § 14-227a as violative of the double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment to the United States constitution. 4 We reverse the judgment of the trial court.

The relevant facts are undisputed. On December 16, 1994, the defendant was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of § 14-227a(a). 5 Following the defendant's arrest, the commissioner of motor vehicles suspended her motor vehicle operator's license for a period of ninety days pursuant to General Statutes § 14-227b(h)(1)(A). 6 Prior to the defendant's trial for allegedly operating a motor vehicle while under the influence in violation of § 14-227a(a), she moved to dismiss that charge, claiming that the ninety day suspension of her license was punishment and that any further prosecution or punishment was precluded by the double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment. The trial court granted the defendant's motion, concluding that the government imposed suspension had a deterrent purpose or effect and constituted punishment that barred any criminal prosecution for the same offense as violative of the double jeopardy clause. This appeal followed.

The double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment to the United States constitution provides that no person shall "be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb...." The double jeopardy clause protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal, a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction, and multiple punishments for the same offense. North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 2076, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969). The third of these protections is at issue in the present case. We must determine, therefore, whether the administrative suspension of the defendant's operator's license constitutes punishment that presents an impediment to her prosecution pursuant to § 14-227a(a).

The defendant relies principally on United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 109 S.Ct. 1892, 104 L.Ed.2d 487 (1989), to support her claim that the trial court correctly concluded that the suspension of her motor vehicle operator's license barred further prosecution or punishment for her alleged violation of § 14-227a(a). In Halper, the defendant was convicted of sixty-five separate violations of the federal criminal false claims statute, 18 U.S.C. § 287. Each violation involved a billing to medicare for $12 for reimbursement for medical services worth only $3. The actual damage to the government as a result of the defendant's scheme was $585. Upon his conviction of the criminal violations, the defendant was sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined $5000. Subsequently, the government filed a separate civil action against the defendant in an attempt to recover a $2000 penalty for each violation as authorized by the applicable statute. Thus, the government sought to collect $130,000 from the defendant. The United States District Court refused to impose most of the additional penalties against the defendant, concluding that the requested amounts bore no rational relationship to the government's losses or costs, and that the assessment of the full amount would be an additional punishment that would violate the double jeopardy clause by punishing Halper a second time for the same offense. United States v. Halper, supra, at 439, 109 S.Ct. at 1897. The government appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1252. The narrow issue presented to the court was whether the attempted imposition of the civil fines against Halper by the government, following his criminal prosecution and punishment for the same underlying misconduct, violated the double jeopardy clause. Id., at 447-50, 109 S.Ct. at 1901-03.

The court determined that the imposition of the full amount of the sought after monetary penalties would constitute punishment. It explicitly held that "under the Double Jeopardy Clause a defendant who already has been punished in a criminal prosecution may not be subjected to an additional civil sanction to the extent that the second sanction may not fairly be characterized as remedial, but only as a deterrent or retribution." (Emphasis added.) Id., at 448-49, 109 S.Ct. at 1902. The court recognized the difficulty in conducting this inquiry and indicated that a violation of the double jeopardy clause "can be identified only by assessing the character of the actual sanction imposed on the individual by the machinery of the state." Id., at 447, 109 S.Ct. at 1901.

In holding that the civil penalty authorized by the statute was so disproportionate to the offense as to have violated the constitutional prohibition against multiple punishments, the court announced that this is "a rule for the rare case ... where a fixed-penalty provision subjects a prolific but small-gauge offender to a sanction overwhelmingly disproportionate to the damages he has caused." Id., at 449, 109 S.Ct. at 1902. The court then remanded the case to the trial court in order to allow the government an opportunity to demonstrate its losses and costs because it had not previously challenged the assessment of damages. The government rather had chosen to litigate only the comprehensive double jeopardy issue that the Supreme Court decided. Id.

The defendant claims that Halper states and stands for the proposition that a civil sanction is punishment unless it can "fairly be said solely to serve a remedial purpose...." 7 (Emphasis added.) Id., at 448, 109 S.Ct. at 1902. This language, however, is mere dicta and is inconsistent with Halper's explicit holding. It was, nevertheless, the language upon which the trial court focused in concluding that the suspension of the defendant's operator's license was punishment that raised a double jeopardy bar. If the above quoted dicta from Halper were adhered to literally and in isolation as the proper standard by which to evaluate an administrative sanction, any such sanction that exhibited even a minuscule deterrent or retributive purpose would have to be denominated punishment for double jeopardy purposes.

As quoted earlier, the explicit holding of United States v. Halper, supra, at 448-49, 109 S.Ct. at 1902, is: "We therefore hold that under the Double Jeopardy Clause a defendant who already has been punished in a criminal prosecution may not be subjected to an additional civil sanction to the extent that the second sanction may not fairly be characterized as remedial, but only as a deterrent or retribution." (Emphasis added.) We cannot reconcile Halper 's explicit holding with the language relied upon by the trial court and the defendant in this case. The majority of courts that have addressed the issue of whether the imposition of a civil sanction constitutes punishment for purposes of the double jeopardy clause, however, have applied Halper's explicit holding, and have rejected the notion that Halper intended to characterize as punishment all civil or administrative sanctions that have any deterrent effect. See, e.g., Dept. of Revenue of Montana v. Kurth Ranch, 511 U.S. 767, 114 S.Ct. 1937, 1946-47, 128 L.Ed.2d 767 (1994); Garrity v. Fiedler, 850 F.Supp. 777, 778-79 (E.D.Wis.1994); State v. Funke, 531 N.W.2d 124, 126-27 (Iowa 1995); State v. Savard, 659 A.2d 1265, 1268 (Me.1995); State v. Strong, 158 Vt. 56, 61-62, 605 A.2d 510 (1992). The majority of courts have also concluded that administrative sanctions that have the remedial purpose of advancing public safety interests do not constitute punishment for purposes of double jeopardy analysis. See, e.g., United States v. Hudson, 14 F.3d 536, 542 (10th Cir.1994) (administrative order barring defendants from future banking activities not bar to subsequent prosecution for related criminal offense); United States v. Furlett, 974 F.2d 839, 844-45 (7th Cir.1992) (administrative ban on commodities trading not bar to subsequent criminal prosecution for same underlying misconduct); Schillerstrom v. State, 180 Ariz. 468, 470-71, 885 P.2d 156 (1994) (criminal prosecution not bar to subsequent administrative revocation of chiropractic license even though based on same behavior giving rise to prosecution); Loui v. Board of Medical Examiners, 78 Hawai'i 21, 25-29, 889 P.2d 705 (1995) (one year suspension from practice of medicine by board of medical examiners following criminal prosecution based on same conduct not barred by double jeopardy...

To continue reading

Request your trial
45 cases
  • State v. Burnell, No. 18139.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 24 Marzo 2009
    ...proceedings that were conducted pursuant to § 14-227b. The trial court denied the defendant's motion, relying on State v. Hickam, 235 Conn. 614, 626-28, 668 A.2d 1321 (1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1221, 116 S.Ct. 1851, 134 L.Ed.2d 951 (1996), overruled in part on other grounds by State v. ......
  • Gelinas v. West Hartford
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • 28 Agosto 2001
    ...242 Conn. 345, 361, 699 A.2d 952 (1997), cert. dismissed, 522 U.S. 1101, 118 S. Ct. 907, 139 L. Ed. 2d 922 (1998); State v. Hickam, 235 Conn. 614, 623, 668 A.2d 1321 (1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1221, 116 S. Ct. 1851, 134 L. Ed. 2d 951 Some years ago, our Supreme Court stated that "[t]he ......
  • State v. Ingram, 14844
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • 13 Febrero 1997
    ...offense.... The third of these protections is at issue in the present case." (Citation omitted; emphasis added.) State v. Hickam, 235 Conn. 614, 617-18, 668 A.2d 1321 (1995), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 116 S.Ct. 1851, 134 L.Ed.2d 951 (1996). While "[t]he constitution of Connecticut has ne......
  • Shoul v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • 22 Noviembre 2017
    ...S.Ct. 1892.5 My conclusion is consistent with the conclusion reached by many other states on this issue. See, e.g., State v. Hickam, 235 Conn. 614, 668 A.2d 1321, 1328 (1995), overruled on other grounds, State v. Crawford, 257 Conn. 769, 778 A.2d 947 (2001) ; State v. Savard, 659 A.2d 1265,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Significant Developments in Criminal Law 1995-1996
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 71, 1996
    • Invalid date
    ...237 Conn. 332, 677 A.2d 433 (1996); sm 230 Conn. 183, 646 A.2d 1318 (1994), cert denied U.S. , 115 S.CL 1133, 130 LEd.2d 1095 (1995). 18 235 Conn. 614, 668 A.2d 1321(1995 cert denied U.S. 116 S.CL 951, 134 LEd.2d 951 (1996). 19 235 Conn. 539, 668 A.2d 6990995), vacated U.S., 116 S.CL 2577, ......
  • Connecticut Appeliate Review
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 71, 1996
    • Invalid date
    ...670 A.2d at 1296. Mr. Horton argued the appeal on behalf of the pWndffi. 28 235 Conn. 539, 668 A.2d 699 (1995)(en banc). n35 Conn. 614, 668 A.2d 1321 (1995)(en banc), cfft dmkd. 116 S. CL 1851 (1996). 29 236 Conn. 781, 675 A.2d 1340 (1996) (en banc). 31 239 Conn. 207, 6g2 A.2d 106 (1996). 3......
  • Significant Developments in Criminal Law 1996-1997
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 72, 1997
    • Invalid date
    ...in Criminal Law 1995-1996, 71 Conn. B.J. 104, 109-113 (1997). 26. Id Conn. 97, 689 A.2d 1108 (1997). 27. 490 U.S. 435 (1989). 28. 235 Conn. 614, 668 A.2d 1321 (1995), cert. denied, S.CL 1851 (1996) 29. Santiago, supra note 26 at 102. 30. 242 Conn. 345, 699 A.2d 952 (1997). 31. The reasoning......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT