State v. Walker

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Traffic Infractions
  • Date Filed: 05-06-2020
  • Case #: A166143
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, P.J. for the Court; DeVore, J.; & James, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 135.715, an error in an accusatory instrument does not require dismissal of charges unless the error would "prejudice of the substantial rights of the defendant upon the merits.”

Defendant challenged a citation for speeding; the citation was upheld.  Defendant appealed to the Douglas County Circuit Court; after trial de novo, the citation was upheld.  Defendant appealed and assigned error to the Circuit Court’s denial of a motion to dismiss.  Defendant argued that the citation did not intelligibly state the citing officer’s name.  The State argued that the officer’s name was nevertheless “readily discoverable” because the citation included the officer’s identification number.  Under ORS 153.051, a citation must include a summons that states “the name of the enforcement officer issuing the citation.”  Error in an accusatory instrument, however, requires dismissal only when the error prejudices “the substantial rights of the defendant.” ORS 135.715.  The Court found that ORS 153.051 unambiguously required that Defendant have notice of the citing officer’s name and the citation did not meet this statutory requirement because the State conceded the citing officer’s signature was unintelligible.  The court held that such statutory invalidity was not sufficient for dismissal because the Defendant's "substantial rights" were not prejudiced by the error as the defendant’s need to know the citing officer’s name to prepare a defense was assuredly known upon appeal to the Circuit Court.  Affirmed.

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