Friday, March 04, 2011

Summary 2011 WY 38

Summary of Decision March 4, 2011

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Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court

Case Name: Mowery v. State

Citation: 2011 WY 38

Docket Number: No. S-10-0127


Appeal from the District Court of Washakie County, Honorable Robert E. Skar, Judge

Representing Appellant (Defendant): Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Appellate Counsel; Diane E. Courselle, Director, UW Defender Aid Program; E. Jeannee Nunn, Student Intern.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Bruce A. Salzburg, Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jessica Y. Frint, Student Director, Jessica G. Van Norman, Student Intern.

Date of Decision: March 4, 2011

Facts: Appellant appeals a conviction for felony interference with a peace officer, in violation of Wyo. Stat. 6-5-204(b) (2009). She contends the district court erred in allowing the State to amend the information to remove the charge of attempting to interfere with a peace officer. She also asserts that the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on the defense of self-induced intoxication.

Issues: Whether the district court abused its discretion under Wyoming Rule of Criminal Procedure 3(e) when it allowed the last minute amendment of the information removing the charge of attempting to interfere with a peace officer since it prejudiced her defenses of self-induced intoxication. Whether the trial court erred when it declined to Appellant’s proposed instruction which provided that self-induced intoxication is a defense to the crime of intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a peace officer in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b).

Holdings: Appellant faced conviction under the original information for both the attempted and completed versions of felony interference with a peace officer. However, self-induced intoxication is a defense only to the attempted crime, and not to the completed crime. When the State amended the information, the possibility of conviction for the attempted crime was eliminated. But Appellant continued to face, as she did from the beginning of the proceedings, the possibility of conviction for the completed crime if the State proved its case. Despite having ample opportunity to present a defense to the completed crime, Appellant presented no other defense apart from self-induced intoxication. The fact that Appellant’s intoxication defense was negated by the removal of the attempted crime from the charge against her did not prejudice her substantial rights. She was on notice of the attempted and completed versions of the crime from the beginning of the case, and the attempted version was based in the same statutory provision and arose out of identical factual circumstances as the completed crime. The district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the State to amend the information.

“Specific intent” is most commonly used to refer to a special mental element that is required above and beyond any mental state that is attached to the physical act of a crime. Specific intent crime is often described as one that involves an intent to do some further act or achieve a future consequence in addition to the basic physical act of the crime. When the statute sets out the offense with only a description of the particular unlawful act, without reference to intent to do a further act or achieve a future consequence, the trial judge asks the jury whether the defendant intended to do the outlawed act. Such intention is general intent. When the statutory definition of the crime refers to an intent to do some further act or attain some additional consequence, the offense is considered to be a specific intent crime and then that question must be asked of the jury. In Wyo. Stat. 6-5-204(b), the mere use of the words “intentionally and knowingly” does not transform the crime of felony interference with a peace officer into a specific intent crime. Because the accused does not have to intend a further act or future consequence beyond the injury to a peace officer, the completed offense described in Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b) is a general intent crime. Thus, the completed version of felony interference with a peace officer is not a specific intent crime and, accordingly, self-induced intoxication is not available as a defense.


J. Burke delivered the opinion for the court.

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