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United States v. Beauchamp

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

February 16, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LEROY BEAUCHAMP, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Brian Morris, United States District Court Judge.

         Defendant Leroy Beauchamp moves the Court to dismiss the Indictment against him on the grounds that it lacks the requisite specific facts to apprise Beauchamp of the offense of which he is charged. (Doc. 43 at 2-3.) The Court held a hearing on this matter on February 15, 2018. (Doc. 62.)

         BACKGROUND

         The Grand Jury indicted Beauchamp on a single count of Felony Child Abuse. (Doc. 1 at 1.) The Indictment alleges:

“That in or about June 2017, near Wolf Point, in the State and District of Montana, and within the exterior boundaries of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, being Indian Country, the defendants, LEROY BEAUCHAMP and NOVA BIG LEGGINS, Indian persons, who are over the age of 18 years, purposely and knowingly caused bodily injury to a minor, A.T.B., an individual who had not attained the age of 14 years, and aided and abetted in the same, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §' 1153(a), 2 and Mont. Code Ann. ' 45-5-212(1).”

(Doc. 1 at 1.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Due Process Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides those accused of a crime the right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.” The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure further require that a criminal indictment contain “a plain, concise, and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. . .” Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(1).

         The Ninth Circuit has instructed that an indictment will comport with the Due Process clause where it: 1 (1) “enable[s] [a defendant] to prepare his defense”; (2) “ensures” that the defendant “is being prosecuted on the basis of facts presented to the grand jury”; (3) “enable[s] [a defendant] to plead double jeopardy against a later prosecution”; and (4) “inform[s] the court of the facts alleged so that it can determine the sufficiency of the charge.” U.S. v. Livingston, 725 F.3d 1141, 1145 (9th Cir. 2013) (internal citations omitted). To meet this test, the indictment must “allege the elements of the offense charged and the facts which inform the defendant of the specific offense with which he is charged.” Id.

         An indictment may be found sufficient where it sets forth the charge “in the words of the statute itself” provided those words “fully, directly, and expressly, without any uncertainty or ambiguity, set forth all the elements necessary to constitute the offense intended to be punished.” United States v. Mancuso, 718 F.3d 780, 790 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Hamling v. United States, 418 U.S. 87, 117 (1974). The Supreme Court has instructed that an indictment will be found “defective” where the indictment tracks the language of the statute yet fails to apprise the defendant “with reasonable certainty” of the charge against him. Russell v. United States, 369 U.S. 749, 765 (1962).

         The Court must review the indictment “in its entirety” and with “common sense and practicality.” United States v. Berger, 473 F.3d 1080, 1103 (9th Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted). The requisite test does not ask “whether [the indictment] could have been framed in a more satisfactory manner, ” but “whether it conforms to minimal constitutional standards.” United States v. Awad, 551 F.3d 930, 935 (9th Cir. 2009).

         DISCUSSION

         Beauchamp argues that the face of the Indictment fails to apprise him with reasonable certainty of what conduct the Government intends to prosecute. Beauchamp further alleges that the Indictment leaves him vulnerable to double jeopardy. Beauchamp cites the “open-ended” timeframe (“in or about June 2017”) and the “ambiguous” location (“near Wolf Point”) specified in the Indictment as its primary defects. (Doc. 43 at 3-4.)

         I. ...


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