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State v. Harris

August 29, 1996


Appeal from Superior Court, King (94-8-02990-0) County; Honorable Bobbe Bridge, Judge. Judgment Date: 8-30-94.

Dolliver, J., Durham, C.j., Smith, Guy, Johnson, Madsen, Alexander, Talmadge, Sanders, J.j., Concurring.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dolliver

En Banc

DOLLIVER, J.--Five months after pleading guilty to the charge of driving with no valid operator's license (NVOL), Defendant Thomas Harris was charged and found guilty of taking a motor vehicle without permission (TMV). Both charges arose from the same traffic stop. Defendant claims the State violated the speedy trial rule, JuCR 7.8, by bringing the TMV charge five months after the NVOL charge. The Court of Appeals upheld Defendant's TMV conviction. We reverse and order the dismissal of the TMV charge.

On November 26, 1993, just after midnight, a police officer pulled over a Datsun pickup truck for driving without headlights. The officer ran a computer check on the vehicle and discovered the truck was reported as stolen. The officer arrested Defendant, who was driving, and two passengers. Defendant was 17 years old at the time of arrest, and he did not have a driver's license. The officer cited Defendant for driving without a valid operator's license (NVOL), in violation of RCW 46.20.021 (a misdemeanor). The officer also filled out a citation form for taking a motor vehicle without the owner's permission (TMV), in violation of RCW 9A.56.070 (a felony). Citations cannot be issued for felony charges, but the officer apparently recognized this because the officer wrote "Investigation" on the line where the defendant's signature would normally be required on the form.

Police contacted the Datsun owner, who came to the scene of the arrest and retrieved the vehicle. The truck had been "hot wired," and the owner reported a toolbox was missing from the vehicle. After being advised of his rights, Defendant voluntarily signed a statement in which he admitted he obtained the truck from an acquaintance, and he knew it had been stolen. Defendant was released into his mother's custody.

On December 8, 1993, a King County deputy prosecutor filed a formal complaint in Shoreline District Court for the NVOL charge. On December 22, 1993, Defendant appeared pro se and pleaded guilty.

On May 10, 1994, 139 days after Defendant pleaded guilty to the NVOL, a King County deputy prosecutor filed an information in King County Superior Court, Juvenile Division, charging Defendant with the TMV. Defendant appeared in court for arraignment on May 31, 1994, 160 days after his guilty plea on the NVOL. Claiming his JuCR 7.8 right to a speedy trial had been violated, Defendant moved to dismiss the TMV charge. He asserted the speedy trial clock on the TMV charge began running when he was held to answer for the NVOL, since both charges arose from the same criminal conduct or episode.

The trial court held a pretrial motion hearing on July 14, 1994, at which the court considered and denied Defendant's motion to dismiss. The court noted that the police report had sat untouched in the prosecutor's office "in box" for two different three-week periods. The court expressed concerns over the State's lengthy delay in bringing the TMV charge, but the court held the situation did not present a speedy trial issue, and it held the delay did not amount to a constitutional deprivation of due process.

On July 21, 1994, Defendant stipulated to the facts contained in the police report and was found guilty on the TMV charge. Defendant appealed the conviction, arguing the TMV charge was filed in violation of JuCR 7.8, and the charge should have been dismissed with prejudice. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals cited State v. Fladebo, 113 Wash. 2d 388, 779 P.2d 707 (1989) and held the speedy trial rule did not apply to Defendant's situation. State v. Harris, No. 35205-9-I (Wash. App. July 31, 1995). The court found Defendant's Sixth Amendment rights under the Federal Constitution were not violated, so the court upheld Defendant's conviction.

This court granted Defendant's petition for review, State v. Harris, 128 Wash. 2d 1013, 911 P.2d 1343 (1996). Defendant challenges the lower court's holding on the speedy trial rule, but Defendant does not dispute the Court of Appeals' Sixth Amendment analysis, so our review is limited to the question of whether or not the TMV conviction violated JuCR 7.8. RAP 13.7(b).

The juvenile court speedy trial rule states, in part:

The adjudicatory hearing on a juvenile offense shall begin within 60 days following the juvenile's arraignment in juvenile court on the charges contained in the information.

JuCR 7.8(b). Defendant argues that, where two charges arise from the same criminal act or criminal episode, as did his NVOL and TMV, the speedy trial clock for the second criminal charge starts running when the Defendant is arraigned on the first charge. Defendant claims his December 22, 1993, arraignment for the NVOL charge started the clock running for the TMV charge. Accordingly, the trial for the TMV charge had to start within 60 days from December 22, 1993.

JuCR 7.8 does not expressly address situations involving multiple charges that stem from the same criminal conduct or criminal episode. Defendant is correct, however, when he claims State v. Peterson, 90 Wash. 2d 423, 585 P.2d 66 (1978), supports his reading of JuCR 7.8.

In 1975, Peterson was charged in district court with assault for shooting at police officers when fleeing from a bank robbery. Peterson was tried and convicted on federal bank robbery charges, but the State failed to prosecute the assault charge. While in the federal penitentiary, Peterson successfully moved to dismiss the assault charge under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, RCW 9.100. In 1977, the State filed two new assault charges against Peterson in superior court, with both charges stemming from the same shooting incident. One charge was identical to the previously dismissed 1975 charge, and the other assault charge merely named a different police officer as the victim. This court dismissed the second charge for violation of the speedy trial rule:

The new assault charge filed in 1977 was also properly dismissed by the trial court. The Judge determined that, because the new charge arose out of the same offense and incident as the old one, the time limits of CrR 3.3 began running on the new offense as well as the old one in January 1975. CrR 3.3 does not expressly so provide. However, because we find therein no provisions which contemplate separate charges from the same conduct filed years apart, we look to ABA standards to provide supplemental interpretation. Standard 2.2 recommends that the time within which trial must be held should begin on all crimes "based on the same conduct or arising from the same criminal incident" from the time the defendant is held to answer any charge with respect to that conduct or episode. CrR ...

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