State v. Snodgrass

Decision Date07 September 1977
Docket NumberCA-CR,No. 1,1
Citation570 P.2d 1280,117 Ariz. 107
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Bill Don SNODGRASS, Appellant. 2339.
CourtArizona Court of Appeals

Bruce E. Babbitt, Atty. Gen. by Galen H. Wilkes, Asst. Atty. Gen., Phoenix, for appellee.

Estrada & Kobashi by Carlos R. Estrada, Phoenix, Traynor & Herbert, P. C. by John D. Herbert, Chandler, for appellant.


WREN, Judge.

Appellant, Bill Don Snodgrass, was charged with aggravated assault (or in the alternative, obstructing justice) in Count I and with obstructing justice in Count II, arising from a disturbance in Chandler, Arizona, in January of 1976. Following a preliminary hearing Count I was dismissed and a subsequent information was filed on Count II, 1 charging a violation of § 13-541, as amended 1967. Pursuant to a plea bargain appellant pleaded no contest to the Information. The trial court found appellant guilty of obstructing justice and placed him on probation for three years, conditioned upon his completion of six months incarceration in the Maricopa County jail.

It is the appellant's contention on appeal that A.R.S. § 13-541(A) (Obstructing Justice) is void for vagueness and overbreadth on its face and as applied to him in the instant case.

We set forth the essential facts as follows: At approximately 9:00 p.m. on January 24, 1976, appellant was attending a wedding reception for one of his daughters in Chandler, Arizona. Another of appellant's daughters approached him at the reception and told him that Tim Snodgrass, appellant's son, had just been attacked by a group of juveniles in the vicinity of the Wingfoot Market, which is also located in Chandler. The son suffered from hemophilia and was constantly in danger of serious injury or death from internal bleeding which could result from abrasions or contusions that would not ordinarily endanger the life of a person who does not suffer from that condition. Believing his son to be in imminent serious danger, appellant and his friends hurriedly left the reception and traveled to the Wingfoot Market parking area.

At approximately 9:15 p.m. Officer Irwin and auxiliary Officer Tate arrived at the Wingfoot Market in response to a radio report that a fight was in progress in the parking lot. Approximately thirty people were present when the officers arrived. An unknown number of additional uniformed officers also arrived and together the policemen commenced to quell the disturbance. One officer was nearly hit by a pickup truck driven by an individual who was subsequently arrested. Another, Officer Irwin, had his nose broken when struck by a fist. At least four men were arrested and charged as a result of the riot.

Officer Irwin had just arrested one defendant and, after placing him in a patrol car, was returning to the fray when he was confronted by appellant. He later described the scene as a "mob" and testified that appellant came toward him and called him an obscene name. Two policemen then grabbed appellant and backed him up against an automobile. Irwin further testified that appellant was wrestled to the ground at some time after he was seized by the officers, but the sequence of events is otherwise unclear. Appellant was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a patrol car. There is no evidence that appellant attempted to or did strike any of the officers during the disturbance. Appellant's actions are characterized in Officer Irwin's words as follows:

"I finished my job with Hobbs, put the cuffs on him (Hobbs), took him over to the patrol unit and put him in the back of the patrol unit, went back to assist the other officers. A Bill Don Snodgrass came at me, yelled something to the effect, I was f ing punk.

Q. He said what?

A. That I was a f ing punk. A couple of officers grabbed him.

A. We I had placed Larry Hobbs in the back of the car. A couple of officers, Maxwell was one of them, were attempting to subdue and arrest Howard, the gentleman that struck me. Snodgrass was interfering with their arrest.

Q. Just to make it clear the obstruction that you are talking about Mr. Snodgrass interfering with your attempts with your duties was at the same time period and the same events he was also obstructing Officer Maxwell.

A. Yes it was."


The appellant in his brief before this Court did not raise the question of a factual basis in the record to support the finding of the court that he was guilty as charged in the information. However, the conviction cannot be sustained unless there is a factual basis to support each of the elements of the crime to which the plea is made. State v. Norris, 113 Ariz. 558, 558 P.2d 903 (1976); State v. Carr, 112 Ariz. 453, 543 P.2d 441 (1975), and we have therefore examined the sufficiency of the evidence in the extended record.

The factual basis requirement of 17 A.R.S., Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 17.3, demands that the record show substantial evidence of the defendant's actual guilt. State v. Norris, supra; see also North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970). This factual basis can be shown through the evidence adduced at the plea proceeding and/or through an examination of the extended record. State v. Rodriguez, 112 Ariz. 193, 540 P.2d 665 (1975); State v. Mendiola, 23 Ariz.App. 251, 532 P.2d 193 (1975), adopted and approved as the opinion of the Arizona Supreme Court, 112 Ariz. 165, 540 P.2d 131. However, a plea to the charge, an admission to the crime, or statements of conclusions of law do not establish a factual basis, simply because such statements are not facts from which the trial court can fulfill the requirements of Rule 17.3. See State v. Rodriguez, supra. State v. Mendiola, 23 Ariz.App. 251, 532 P.2d 193 (1975).

The problem is that appellant was charged with resisting Officer Maxwell and not Officer Irwin. Officer Maxwell did not testify at the preliminary hearing. The only facts present in the extended record which could arguably establish a factual basis of appellant's guilt of the crime of obstructing Officer Maxwell as alleged in the information is the testimony of Officer Irwin that appellant "was interfering" with Officer Maxwell's arrest of Mr. Howard, and the presentence report which read:

"suspects, Bill Snodgrass, Patsey Snodgrass (appellant's wife) and Bobby Howard (were) involved in altercations with other Chandler police officers," (and) "Bill Snodgrass was arrested for assault on a Police Officer, as he fought officers at the scene."

The same report contained appellant's denial that he had used any force:

"(In) attempting to check on his son's welfare (he) was sprayed with mace by police officers on the scene, grabbed, subdued and arrested. The defendant indicated he did nothing to provoke or cause his arrest."

Reluctantly we have concluded that the preliminary hearing transcript reflects insufficient evidence to establish and support the finding by the court of a factual basis for the charge. Nor do the unsupported statements in the presentence report, since Officer Maxwell was not one of the officers referred to, and the allegation was specifically denied by the appellant. The statement that the appellant was "interfering" with Officer Maxwell is not only a conclusion of law framed in the language of the statute without facts in the record to support it, it does not establish whether the "interference" was through words alone or was accompanied by the requisite offensive action. Cf. State v. Rodriguez, 112 Ariz. 193, 540 P.2d 665 (1975) wherein it was stated that a plea to the charge and an admission to the crime are statements of conclusions of law which do not establish a factual basis, because such statements are not facts upon which a trial court can fulfill the requirements of Rule 17.3. See also State v. Reynolds, 25 Ariz.App. 409, 544 P.2d 233 (1976).

We would also note, however, that while it is true that a defendant's remonstrations to a police officer by themselves are legally insufficient to establish the crime of obstructing an officer, State v. Tages,10 Ariz.App. 127, 457 P.2d 289 (1969), the obscene epithet made by the appellant to Officer Irwin in the midst of mob violence against uniformed police officers and while approaching the officer is fully sufficient to constitute obstructing Officer Irwin, had the information so charged. While words alone under some circumstances might be inadequate unless accompanied by some offensive action such was not the case here as to Officer Irwin.

The facts simply do not support the charges filed. The insufficiency of the factual basis to support any of the operative phrases of the statute mandates that the no contest plea and the conviction thereon be set aside, State v. Page, 115 Ariz. 156, 564 P.2d 379 (No. 3709-PR, filed April 11, 1977); State v. Norris, supra; State v. Mendiola, 23 Ariz.App. 251, 532 P.2d 193 (1975).

We turn next to the challenged statute, § 13-541(A) A.R.S., in order to assist the trial court in the remand of the case. " § 13-541. Resisting, delaying, coercing or obstructing public officer; punishment

A person who attempts by means of any threat or violence to deter or prevent a public officer from performing any duty imposed upon the officer by law, or who wilfully resists, delays or obstructs a public officer in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his office, or who knowingly resists by the use of force or violence the officer in the performance of his duty, where the punishment is not otherwise specifically prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars and imprisonment in the state prison for not to exceed five years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed one year."

The elements of A.R.S. § 13-541(A) cl. 2 have previously been delineated as follows: "(1) the wilful resisting, delaying, coercing or obstructing, (2) of a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
13 cases
  • Scott v. Pennsylvania Bd. of Probation and Parole
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
    • November 30, 1995
    ... ... The search was conducted under state regulations which allowed any probation officer to search a probationer's home without a warrant as long as his supervisor approved, and there were ... ...
  • State v. Moreno
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • September 23, 1982
    ...State v. Toulouse, 122 Ariz. 275, 277, 594 P.2d 529, 531 (1979); State v. Diaz, 121 Ariz. 16, 588 P.2d 309 (1978); State v. Snodgrass, 117 Ariz. 107, 570 P.2d 1280 (App.1977). In our opinion the right to trial by jury is not a jurisdictional defense, and defendant does not urge to the At th......
  • State v. Wilkerson
    • United States
    • Idaho Court of Appeals
    • May 3, 1988
    ...every act that leads to violence. Our holding is consistent with the result reached by other courts. See State v. Snodgrass, 117 Ariz. 107, 570 P.2d 1280 (App.1977), on appeal from remand, 121 Ariz. 409, 590 P.2d 948 (App.1979) (interpreting comparable Arizona statute in light of Fourth Ame......
  • State v. Flores
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 2011
    ...This trend culminated in the 1977 passing of A.R.S. § 13–404(B), which limited the right to resist arrest. State v. Snodgrass, 117 Ariz. 107, 115 n. 2, 570 P.2d 1280, 1288 n. 2 (1977). Under A.R.S. § 13–404(B), one may resist arrest only when “the physical force used by the peace officer ex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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