State v. Royse

Decision Date01 July 1965
Docket NumberNo. 37972,37972
PartiesThe STATE of Washington, Respondent, v. Merle Lee ROYSE, Appellant.
CourtWashington Supreme Court

James O. Ballou, Longview, for appellant.

Wayne Roethler, Pros. Atty., Henry R. Dunn, Deputy Pros. Atty., Kelso, for respondent.

BRADFORD, Judge. 1

Merle Lee Royse was charged in the Superior Court of the State of Washington for Cowlitz County as follows:

(A)nd by this information accuses MERLE LEE ROYSE of the crime of SECOND DEGREE ASSAULT committed as follows: He, the said MERLE LEE ROYSE on or about the 28th day of June 1964 A.D., in the County of Cowlitz, State of Washington, and then and there being, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault Mona Painter with the intent to commit a felony, by then and there grasping, seizing, holding and struggling with the said Mona Painter for the purpose of violently forcing the said Mona Painter into an automobile against her will and without her consent; * * *

Counsel was appointed to represent the defendant and, on July 10, 1964, filed this motion:

Comes now the defendant and respectfully moves the Court to require the plaintiff to make its information herein more specific, definite and certain in each and all of the following particulars; or alternatively, that the plaintiff be required to furnish the defendant a Bill of Particulars with reference to each and all of the same, as follows:

1. That it be required to set forth the specific felony that the defendant is charged to have intended to commit.

2. That if the particular felony that the defendant is alleged to have intended to commit is capable of being committed in more than one manner, then to allege or set forth with particularity the means or manner in which the defendant intended to commit such crime.

3. That if the particular felony that the defendant is alleged to have intended to commit is capable of being committed for more than one purpose, then to allege or set forth the particular purpose allegedly involved.

4. That if the particular felony that the defendant is alleged to have intended to commit is capable of being committed with more than one intent, then to allege or set forth the particular intent of the defendant involved in such alleged intended felony.

This motion was duly argued and an order was entered on July 31, 1964, denying the motion. The case was set and came on for trial October 1, 1964, at which time the defendant, prior to impaneling the jury, renewed his motion and moved the court to require the state to elect the felony or felonies intended to be committed by the defendant. The court adhered to its original ruling.

The state, at this point, served its proposed instructions, and the only felonies upon which instructions were requested were grand larceny and second degree kidnapping. A jury was drawn and, during the voir dire, the state interposed an objection to the defendant's query on second degree kidnapping. In argument to the court, out of the presence of the jury, the state announced it was now going to request instructions on additional felonies. This prompted the defendant to, once again, request the court to assist him in finding out which crime he was defending. The court directed the state to be prepared to make an election when the court reconvened. The court reconvened at 1:30 p.m., and the selection of the jury was completed and then sworn to try the case.

Counsel again renewed his motion to require the state to elect which felony or felonies the defendant was charged with having intent to commit. The state, for the first time, specifically elected four felonies as being within the intentions of the defendant in committing the assault charged, namely, grand larceny, first degree kidnapping, second degree kidnapping and rape.

At the conclusion of the state's case, the defendant made a motion to dismiss the second degree assault charge and offered to plead guilty to third degree assault. This motion was denied. Defendant then moved to dismiss on the second degree kidnapping and larceny. This motion was granted.

Motions were also made on the first degree kidnapping and rape. The court denied the motion on first degree kidnapping and reserved his ruling on the motion pertaining to the crime of rape.

The case was ultimately submitted to the jury with instructions on assault with intent to commit rape and/or first degree kidnapping. The defendant was convicted of second degree assault and, in answering interrogatories submitted by the court, the jury had found the defendant committed the assault with the intent to commit rape.

The defendant claims it was prejudicial error for the court to deny his motions to make more certain and argues strenuously and rather persuasively that he found it impossible to prepare a defense when he did not know what felony he was defending against. Effective and logical voir dire examination and the preparation of proposed instructions were out of the question, all to his irreparable prejudice. The information was defective in that it was so uncertain that a person of common understanding would have no idea what the state intended.

The charge was based upon RCW 9.11.020, which reads in part as follows:

Every person who, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first degree--

(6) Shall assault another with intent to commit a felony, or * * *.

Const. art. 1, § 22 provides:

In criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right * * * to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, * * *.

RCW 10.37.050 reads in part:

The indictment or information is Sufficient if it can be understood therefrom-- (6) That the Act or omission Charged as the crime is clearly and distinctly set forth in ordinary and concise language, without repetition, and in such a manner as to enable a person of common understanding to know what is intended; (Italics ours.)

RCW 10.37.052 reads in part:

The indictment or information Must contain--

(2) A statement of the acts constituting the offense, in ordinary and concise language, without repetition, and in such manner as to enable a...

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40 cases
  • State v. Johnson, s. 49128-3
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 15 Diciembre 1983
    ...language does not provide sufficient guidance. People v. Failla, supra at 565, 51 Cal.Rptr. 103, 414 P.2d 39; cf. State v. Royse, supra at 556-57, 403 P.2d 838 (general rule that offense may be charged in language of statute applies only when statute defines crime with sufficient certainty)......
  • State v. Borrero, 70746-4.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 19 Septiembre 2002
    ...other requirements of the information, such as the title of the action and the names of the parties." State v. Royse, 66 Wash.2d 552, 557, 403 P.2d 838 (1965). The failure to do so is ground for reversal. Leach, 113 Wash.2d at 688, 782 P.2d 552; Royse, 66 Wash.2d at 557, 403 P.2d 838; State......
  • State v. Pry, 96599-4
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 21 Noviembre 2019
    ...237 P.3d 250 (2010) (citing State v. Leach, 113 Wash.2d 679, 688, 782 P.2d 552 (1989) ); see also State v. Royse, 66 Wash.2d 552, 557, 403 P.2d 838 (1965). We may look to other counts charged when assessing whether the information appropriately gave the defendant notice. Nonog, 169 Wash.2d ......
  • State v. Kjorsvik, 57492-8
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 20 Junio 1991
    ...first time on appeal); State v. Moser, 41 Wash.2d 29, 246 P.2d 1101 (1952) (raised for first time on second appeal); State v. Royse, 66 Wash.2d 552, 403 P.2d 838 (1965); State v. Holt, 104 Wash.2d 315, 704 P.2d 1189 (1985) (raised for first time on appeal); State v. Leach, 113 Wash.2d 679, ......
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