State v. Jones, 720

Decision Date07 April 1982
Docket NumberNo. 720,720
PartiesSTATE of Maryland v. Johnny Clayton JONES.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Ann E. Singleton, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom were Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., Diane G. Goldsmith, Asst. Atty. Gen., Andrew L. Sonner, State's Atty. for Montgomery County and Judith R. Catterton, Asst. State's Atty. for Montgomery County, on the brief, for appellant.

George F. Paxton, Assigned Public Defender, with whom were Lerch, Early & Roseman Chartered, Bethesda, on the brief, for appellee.

Argued before THOMPSON, MOORE and MacDANIEL, JJ.

MOORE, Judge.

The appellee's motion to dismiss a charge of first degree rape was granted by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County (Fairbanks, J.) because of lack of jurisdiction. On appeal, the State argues first, that Art. 27, § 465, Md.Ann.Code (1982 Repl.Vol.) (Jurisdiction where victim transported.) confers subject matter jurisdiction because the victim had been abducted by force in Maryland and driven to the District of Columbia where vaginal intercourse occurred. Alternatively, the State contends, common law confers jurisdiction because essential elements of the statutory offense took place in Maryland. We agree with the court below that § 465 pertains to venue, not jurisdiction, but we agree with the State, for the reasons stated herein, that Maryland had jurisdiction under the common law to try the appellee for first degree rape. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

I

The assistant State's Attorney and defense counsel stipulated to the following facts: Appellee Johnny Clayton Jones came upon the victim on the morning of April 4, 1980, as she alighted from her car in a parking lot in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on her way to work at a restaurant nearby. Appellee forced the victim back into her car, struck her, pushed her head down on the car floor, tied her arms behind her back with a sweater, and drove off. About 10 minutes later, he stopped the car at a bus stop. At that time, he picked up an ice scraper and warned the victim, "you know what damage I can do with this ..." Appellee then drove around for about half an hour and stopped at some park within the District of Columbia where he took the victim out of the car and forced her to submit to vaginal intercourse. Afterward, appellee drove the victim back into Maryland and left her car near the area where he had abducted her. The victim went to work and the police were called.

Subsequently, appellee was apprehended and charged with first degree rape, kidnapping, robbery, and assault and battery. Following the court's dismissal of the rape charge on May 4, 1981, appellee pled guilty to the other charges and was sentenced to ten years for kidnapping and eight years each on the robbery and assault and battery charges, all concurrent to a sentence he was then serving in Virginia.

II

Criminal jurisdiction has been defined "as the power and authority constitutionally conferred on a court, judge, or magistrate to take cognizance of an offense...." 21 C.J.S. Courts, § 19. The courts of one state cannot take cognizance of a crime committed against the laws of a neighboring state. Bowen v. State, 206 Md. 368, 378, 111 A.2d 844 (1955).

Venue, on the other hand, is the place of the trial, the "county in which a court of appropriate jurisdiction may properly hear and determine the case...." Stewart v. State, 21 Md.App. 346, 348, 319 A.2d 621 (1974).

Venue presupposes proper jurisdiction, 1 Wharton's Criminal Procedure § 36 at 103 (12th ed. 1974), for without it, a court's judgment is void. Brown v. State, 219 Ind. 251, 37 N.Ed.2d 73 (- 1941). However, both jurisdiction and venue are founded in locality-the place where the crime occurred. Id. 37 N.E.2d at 78. See United States v. Cores, 356 U.S. 405, 78 S.Ct. 875, 2 L.Ed.2d 873 (1958). This common factor has led to the use of the term "territorial jurisdiction," Urciolo v. State, 272 Md. 607, 325 A.2d 878 (1974). Some confusion has resulted in other states from using the terms, venue and jurisdiction, interchangeably. See McBurney v. State, 280 Md. 21, 31, n.7, 371 A.2d 129 (1977).

Whatever the state of confusion elsewhere, this State respects the distinction. In sum, jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine a case; venue signifies the place of trial. Guarnera v. State, 23 Md.App. 525, 328 A.2d 327 (1974).

The statute at issue in the State's first argument, Art. 27, § 465, is reproduced below:

§ 465. Jurisdiction where victim transported.

If a person is transported by any means, with the intent to violate this subheading and the intent is followed by actual violation of this subheading, the defendant may be tried in the appropriate court within whose jurisdiction the county lies where the transportation was offered, solicited, begun, continued or ended.

We note that the term "jurisdiction" is used twice, although in a territorial sense. The statutory language plainly relates to venue between the counties in Maryland. 1 The circuit court of a county is the proper place to try a defendant accused of a sex offense when his transportation of the victim "was offered, solicited, begun, continued or ended" in that county. Thus, a defendant may be tried for rape in one county even though vaginal intercourse may have occurred in an adjoining county. See Deinhardt v. State, 29 Md.App. 391, 398, 348 A.2d 286 (1975), cert. denied, 277 Md. 736 (1976). 2

The transportation of the victim, i.e., the actual movement in, through, or to a county, establishes venue. Jurisdiction over the crime itself flows from the general power granted in Md.Cts. & Jud.Proc.Code Ann. § 1-501 (1980 Repl.Vol.). Section 465 does not apply to a defendant who has transported his victim across state lines. The fact that the legislature used the word "county" and not "state" is clearly controlling. 3

Where the legislature intended to confer jurisdiction, it has done so. For example, Art. 27, § 337 (1982 Repl.Vol.) permits the prosecution for kidnapping of any person who transports his victim "out of or within" the State. Hunt v. State, 12 Md.App. 286, 278 A.2d 637 (1971).

Section 465 has no extra-territorial effect-it is simply a venue statute, as the lower court found. We turn now to the question of whether the court had jurisdiction to try the defendant for first-degree rape under the common law.

III

One state cannot punish a defendant for a crime committed in another state. Breeding v. State, 220 Md. 193 151 A.2d 743 (1959). Specifically, Maryland has no legal right to prosecute a person for a crime committed in the District of Columbia. Regle v. State, 9 Md.App. 346, 357, 264 A.2d 119 (1970). It is indisputable that Maryland has jurisdiction only of a crime committed in Maryland. The essential query is what is meant by "a crime committed in Maryland." Must every element of a crime occur within the geographical confines of the State? 4 Maryland has addressed this question in the context of multi-element crimes, 5 but there is no prior case involving a statutory rape with extrastate elements.

"All the American states preserve the theory of territorial jurisdiction 6 over local offenses by insisting upon the presence of some local element as a condition to prosecution of crimes which also have extrastate elements." Leflar, American Conflicts Law, § 111 at 224 (3d ed. 1977). 7 "In many cases, the requisite elements of the crime may be committed in different jurisdictions, and in such cases any state in which an essential part of the crime is committed may take jurisdiction. It is necessary to discriminate carefully between those acts essential to the crime and those acts merely incidental to the crime." 21 Am.Jur.2d Criminal Law, § 345 (1981). Acts done in one State as a preliminary to completion of a crime in a second State may be, and sometimes are, punished as crimes in the first State. Thomas v. State, 262 Ark. 79, 553 S.W.2d 32, 33 (1977). The later results give criminal meaning to the earlier acts. Leflar, supra, § 115 at 232. 8 Thus, Leflar reasons, "(i)f the forum has a substantial concern with the criminal act, and can reasonably apply its statutory definition to the local part of the act, it ought to prosecute." Id., § 113 at 228.

Sexual offenses in Maryland have been codified and structured by degree in Art. 27, § 461 et seq. Prior to the enactment of the subtitle in 1976, the crime of rape existed only at common law in Maryland and was not divided into degrees. Sydnor v. State, 39 Md.App. 459, 387 A.2d 297 (1978). What now constitutes first degree rape is as follows:

§ 462. First degree rape.

(a) What constitutes.-A person is guilty of rape in the first degree if the person engages in vaginal intercourse with another person by force or threat of force against the will and without the consent of the other person and:

(1) Employs or displays a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article which the other person reasonably concludes is a dangerous or deadly weapon ; or

(2) Inflicts suffocation, strangulation, disfigurement, or serious physical injury upon the other person or upon anyone else in the course of committing the offense; or

(3) Threatens or places the victim in fear that the victim or any person known to the victim will be imminently subjected to death, suffocation, strangulation, disfigurement, serious physical injury, or kidnapping ; or

(4) The person commits the offense aided and abetted by one or more other persons.

(b) Penalty.-Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and upon conviction is subject to imprisonment for no more than the period of his natural life. (Emphasis added.)

The primary difference between this statute and common law rape is the inclusion of four aggravating circumstances. The purpose of the statute was to close "the gap which formerly existed between the common law misdemeanor of assault and the felony of rape...." Note, Rape and Other Sexual Offense Law...

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