Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. LaPointe

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

November 6, 2017

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
CLIFFORD PAUL LAPOINTE, JR, Appellant.

          SCHINDLER, J.

         In 2013, the Washington State Legislature amended RCW 9A.52.100 to elevate the crime of gross misdemeanor vehicle prowling in the second degree to a class C felony "upon a third or subsequent conviction."[1]The statute defines "a third or subsequent conviction" to mean "a person has been previously convicted at least two separate occasions of the crime of vehicle prowling in the second degree."[2] The statute identifies two circumstances that "do not count as separate offenses": multiple counts either charged in the same information or based on the same date of occurrence.[3] Clifford Paul LaPointe Jr. contends the court erred in denying his Knapstad[4] motion to dismiss the 2016 charge of felony vehicle prowling in the second degree. LaPointe argued that because he pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor vehicle prowling on the same day and in the same proceeding in 2013, he had not been previously convicted on two separate occasions. The State argued that because LaPointe was not charged in the same amended information and the charges were not based on the same date of occurrence, the 2013 convictions elevated the 2016 offense to a felony. The court denied the motion to dismiss the felony charge and convicted LaPointe of felony vehicle prowling in the second degree. Because the language of the statute is ambiguous, we conclude the 2013 convictions that occurred on the same day and in the same proceeding did not elevate the crime to a felony. We reverse denial of the Knapstad motion to dismiss and the conviction of felony vehicle prowling in the second degree, and remand.

         2013 Convictions

         On December 9, 2013, Clifford Paul LaPointe Jr. pleaded guilty as charged by amended information to two counts of misdemeanor vehicle prowling in the second degree in July 2013 and in September 2013; King County cause number 13-1-13980-1 KNT. LaPointe also pleaded guilty as charged by amended information to vehicle prowling in the second degree in May 2013; King County cause number 13-C-12822-1 KNT.

         On January 3, 2014, the court sentenced LaPointe on the convictions. The court imposed a concurrent 364-day suspended sentence.

         2016 Felony Charge

         On January 6, 2016, the State charged LaPointe with felony vehicle prowling in the second degree. The information alleged LaPointe had "previously been convicted on at least two separate occasions of the crime of vehicle prowling in the second degree, each occurring on a separate date and not having been charged in the same charging document."

         LaPointe filed a Knapstad motion to dismiss the charge of felony vehicle prowling in the second degree. LaPointe argued that under the plain and unambiguous language of RCW 9A.52.100(3), he had not been previously convicted on "two separate occasions." LaPointe asserted the undisputed record established he pleaded guilty in 2013 by amended information to the misdemeanor vehicle prowling in the second degree charges on the same day and in the same proceeding.

         The State argued the court should deny the motion to dismiss under RCW 9A.52.100(4). The State asserted that because LaPointe pleaded guilty as charged in two amended informations to offenses that occurred on different dates, his 2013 convictions elevated the current offense to a felony.

         The trial court denied the Knapstad motion. The court concluded LaPointe had been previously convicted on at least two separate occasions because he pleaded guilty in 2013 to misdemeanor vehicle prowling in the second degree "based on separate dates of occurrence" as charged in separate charging documents. The order states, in pertinent part:

RCW 9A.52.100(3) is not ambiguous. Read in conjunction with RCW 9A.52.100(4), the plain language of RCW 9A.52.100(3) describing "a person previously convicted at least two separate occasions of the crime of vehicle prowling in the second degree" is a person who has been convicted of two counts of vehicle prowling charged under separate charging documents and based on separate dates of violation or occurrence.
In this case, the defendant was convicted of two counts of vehicle prowling in the second degree under King County Cause No. 13-1-13980-1, and one count of vehicle prowling in the second degree under King County Cause No. 13-1-12822-1. These convictions are each based on separate dates of occurrence. The convictions under 13-1-13980-1 were charged in a charging document that is separate from the charging document in 13-1-12822-1. The two cause numbers were sentenced on the same date to give the defendant the benefit of presumptively concurrent sentences.

         LaPointe agreed to a trial on stipulated facts. The court convicted LaPointe of felony vehicle prowling in the second degree. The court ruled the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that LaPointe had been previously convicted on two separate occasions of the crime of misdemeanor vehicle prowling in the second degree. The conclusions of law state, in pertinent part:

e. The prior convictions for vehicle prowling in the second degree were not charged in the same information.
f. The prior convictions for vehicle prowling in the second degree were not based on the same date of occurrence.

         Standard of Review

         LaPointe contends the court erred in denying his Knapstad motion to dismiss the felony charge of vehicle prowling in the second degree.

         We review a trial court's decision on a Knapstad motion de novo. State v. Bauer, 180 Wn.2d 929, 935, 329 P.3d 67 (2014). Resolution of the Knapstad motion turns on statutory interpretation of RCW 9A.52.100. Interpretation of a statute is a question of law we review de novo. State v. Gonzalez, 168 Wn.2d 256, 263, 226 P.3d 131 (2010).

         Felony Vehicle Prowling in the Second Degree

         In 1975, the legislature added Title 9A as "a new title to the Revised Code of Washington." Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., ch. 260. Chapter 9A.52 RCW, "Burglary and Trespass, " includes the gross misdemeanor crime of vehicle prowling. Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., ch. 260, § 9A.52.100 (codified as RCW 9A.52.100). Former RCW 9A.52.100 (1975) states:

Vehicle Prowling. (1) A person is guilty of vehicle prowling if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, he enters or remains unlawfully in a vehicle.
(2) Vehicle prowling is a gross misdemeanor.

         In 1982, the legislature enacted a new section to define the crime of felony vehicle prowling in the first degree. Laws of 1982, 1st Ex. Sess., ch. 47, § 13. The new section states, in pertinent part:

(1) A person is guilty of vehicle prowling in the first degree if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, he enters or remains unlawfully in a motor home ... or in a vessel ... which has a cabin equipped with ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.