State v. P.W., 121218 AKCA, A-12074

Docket Nº:A-12074
Opinion Judge:MANNHEIMER, JUDGE
Party Name:STATE OF ALASKA, Appellant, v. P.W., Appellee.
Attorney:Timothy W. Terrell, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorneys General, Juneau, for the Appellant. Douglas O. Moody, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge.
Case Date:December 12, 2018
Court:Court of Appeals of Alaska
 
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STATE OF ALASKA, Appellant,

v.

P.W., Appellee.

No. A-12074

Court of Appeals of Alaska

December 12, 2018

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, Fairbanks, Paul R. Lyle, Judge.

Timothy W. Terrell, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorneys General, Juneau, for the Appellant.

Douglas O. Moody, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellee.

Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge. [*]

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MANNHEIMER, JUDGE

In early April 2012, a Fairbanks police officer stopped a pickup truck for equipment violations. The driver of this truck, P. W., was driving with a revoked license.

P.W. falsely identified himself to the police, and he lied about where the truck had come from. The police eventually located the owner of the truck, and they obtained permission to search the vehicle. Inside the truck, the police discovered a substantial quantity of drugs and over $4600 in cash.

P.W. was initially charged with two misdemeanors: driving with a revoked license, and providing false identifying information to the police. 1He pleaded guilty to both of these charges, and he was sentenced to a composite 100 days in jail.

The police did not refer the drug charges to the district attorney's office - because, immediately after he was arrested, P.W. began negotiating with the Fairbanks police, and later with the Alaska State Troopers, to work as a confidential informant in other drug cases. Eventually, the police and the troopers concluded that P.W. was not a suitable informant, and the drug charges went forward. But P.W. was not indicted on these felony drug offenses until November 2013.

After P.W. was indicted, his attorney moved to dismiss the drug charges, arguing that these charges were barred by Alaska Criminal Rule 45, the speedy trial rule.

Specifically, the defense attorney argued that all of the charges against P.W. - the initial two misdemeanor charges of driving with a revoked license and providing false identifying information, as well as the later felony drug charges - arose out of "the same criminal episode". Under this theory, the time limit for bringing P.W. to trial on the felony drug charges began running on the same day that he was served with the revoked license and false information charges. See Criminal Rule 45(c)(3).

The superior court granted P.W.'s motion to dismiss the felony drug charges. The court concluded that the two initial misdemeanor charges and the later felony drug charges were all part of the "same criminal episode'' because P.W.'s motive for lying about his identity was to prevent the police from finding out that his license was revoked, and then taking control of the truck, searching it, and finding the drugs.

The State now appeals.

Why we reinstate the felony drug charges against P. W.

As we have explained, the superior court concluded that there was a "causal connection" between P.W.'s crime of lying about his identity and the later-filed felony drug charges, in that P.W.'s motive for lying was to prevent the police from...

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