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State v. Haller

Supreme Court of Montana

July 23, 2013

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
DWAYNE BRUCE HALLER, Defendant and Appellant.

Submitted on Briefs: April 17, 2013

APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For the County of Missoula, Cause No. DC-32-2011-0000367-IN Honorable Robert L. Deschamps, III, Presiding Judge

For Appellant: Clinton H. Kammerer, Kammerer Law Offices, Missoula, Montana.

For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General; C. Mark Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana, Fred Van Valkenburg, Missoula County Attorney; Susan E. Boylan, Deputy County Attorney, Missoula, Montana.

OPINION

Mike McGrath, Chief Justice.

¶1 Dwayne Bruce Haller (Haller) appeals from his convictions in the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol – fourth offense, a felony, and Driving Without a Valid Driver's License. We affirm.

¶2 The issue on appeal is whether the District Court properly denied Haller's motion to vacate his convictions.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

¶3 Haller was arrested on August 3, 2011, on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The next day, the State submitted a complaint and an affidavit of probable cause to the Missoula County Justice Court. Based on the affidavit, the Justice of the Peace found that there was probable cause and allowed the complaint to be filed. That same day, August 4, 2011, Haller made his initial appearance. At the initial appearance, as required by § 46-7-102, MCA, the Justice Court informed Haller of the charges against him as well as his various rights, including the right to counsel and the right to bail. The Justice Court also scheduled a preliminary examination for August 18, 2011, during the initial appearance. F or reasons that are not clear from the record, that preliminary examination was not held. On August 23, 2011, 19 days after Haller's initial appearance, the State filed a motion, supported by an affidavit of probable cause, that sought leave from the District Court to file an information. The court granted the State's motion, and the State filed its information charging Haller with felony DUI and driving without a valid driver's license the same day. A jury found Haller guilty of both charges on February 29, 2012.

¶4 On April 16, 2012, Haller filed a motion to vacate his convictions. Haller argued primarily that his convictions should be vacated because he had not received an adversarial probable cause hearing within 48 hours of his arrest. Alternatively, Haller argued that his convictions should be vacated because the State failed to present any evidence at the scheduled preliminary examination on August 18, 2011. T he District Court denied Haller's motion on May 4, 2012. The court held a sentencing hearing on May 8, 2012, and issued its written judgment on May 29, 2012.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶5 The grant or denial of a motion to dismiss in a criminal case is a question of law that we review for correctness. State v. Robison, 2003 MT 198, ¶ 6, 317 Mont. 19, 75 P.3d 301. We review a district court's determination of what constitutes a reasonable time under § 46-10-105, MCA, for an abuse of discretion. State v. Gatlin, 2009 MT 348, ¶ 15, 353 Mont. 163, 219 P.3d 874.

DISCUSSION

¶6 Section 46-6-311(1), MCA, provides that "[a] peace officer may arrest a person when a warrant has not been issued if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person is committing an offense or that the person has committed an offense and existing circumstances require immediate arrest." T o ensure that the officer correctly determined that there was probable cause to make the arrest, the Fourth Amendment gives a criminal defendant who has been arrested without a warrant the right to a prompt probable cause determination by a neutral and detached magistrate. Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 124-25, 95 S.Ct. 854, 868-69 (1975). Section 46-11-110, MCA, also gives a defendant a right to a judicial determination of probable cause before the prosecution can be commenced in justice court. A ...


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