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Schoolfield v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

November 28, 2018

LATASHA KAY SCHOOLFIELD APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT [NO. 16CR-17-12] HONORABLE JOHN N. FOGLEMAN, JUDGE

          Lilly Law Firm, P.A., by: Martin E. Lilly, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Vada Berger, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

         Appellant Latasha Kay Schoolfield brings this interlocutory appeal after the Craighead County Circuit Court, Eastern District (Eastern District), denied her motion to dismiss. In summary, appellant was tried and acquitted on one count of rape filed in the Craighead County Circuit Court, Western District (Western District). After the acquittal, appellant was charged in the Eastern District with several counts of raping the same victim. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss generally contending that new rape charges were barred because they were required to be tried together under Rule 21.3 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss.

         On appeal, appellant makes two arguments. First, she argues that the circuit court erred in denying her motion to dismiss because the charges filed in the second prosecution in the Eastern District are for "the same offense and the same 'continuing course of conduct'" in violation of her right to be free from double jeopardy under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Second, she argues that the second prosecution is barred because the Eastern District charges are "related charges" and were required to be tried together with the Western District charge pursuant to Rule 21.3 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. We affirm.

         I. Factual Summary

         Appellant was initially charged with one count of rape in case No. 16JCR-16-956 in the Western District. The information specifically alleged that on or about August 30, 2016, appellant engaged in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with another person who is less than fourteen years old constituting the offense of rape, a Class Y felony, in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-14-103 (Repl. 2013). This offense allegedly occurred at a Motel 6 in Jonesboro, Arkansas; hence, jurisdiction and venue were proper in the Western District. During the jury trial held in February 2017 in the Western District, in addition to presenting evidence of the rape that allegedly occurred at the Motel 6 in Jonesboro, the State elicited testimony that appellant had sexual intercourse three or four times after August 30, 2016, with the same victim at the victim's home in Caraway, Arkansas. Ultimately, the jury acquitted appellant of the rape that was alleged to have occurred at the Motel 6 in Jonesboro.

         Subsequently, on April 3, 2017, the State charged appellant with four separate counts of rape in case No. 16LCR-17-12 in the Eastern District. It was alleged that between August 31 and September 15, 2016, appellant engaged in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with another person who is less than fourteen years old constituting the offense of rape, a Class Y felony, in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-14-103. These charges stemmed from the allegations that appellant had engaged in sexual intercourse on multiple occasions with the victim at the victim's home in Caraway, Arkansas, which is located in the Eastern District.

         On August 10, 2017, appellant filed a motion to dismiss the information in the Eastern District. She argued that her "motion to dismiss for failure to join all related charges should be granted because [she] already was put in jeopardy on all charges in the February 2017 [Western District] trial, and to deny this motion would allow the State to manipulate the system and get another bite at the apple in violation of due process." The State disagreed and responded, and the circuit court denied appellant's motion to dismiss. This interlocutory appeal followed.

         II. Double-Jeopardy Analysis

         Our appellate courts have long recognized the right to an immediate interlocutory appeal from the denial of a motion to dismiss on double-jeopardy grounds. Green v. State, 2011 Ark. 92, 380 S.W.3d 368; McClendon v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 295, 523 S.W.3d 374. We review a circuit court's denial of a motion to dismiss on double-jeopardy grounds de novo on appeal. Cox v. State, 2012 Ark.App. 499, 423 S.W.3d 131. When the analysis presents itself as a mixed question of law and fact, the factual determinations made by the circuit court are given due deference and are not reversed unless clearly erroneous. Id. However, the ultimate decision by the circuit court that the defendant's protection against double jeopardy was not violated is reviewed de novo with no deference given to the circuit court's determination. Id.

         The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that no person be twice put in jeopardy of life or liberty for the same offense.[1] The Double Jeopardy Clause protects criminal defendants from (1) a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal, (2) a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction, and (3) multiple punishments for the same offense. Green, 2011 Ark. 92, 380 S.W.3d 368. Appellant first argues on appeal that the circuit court erred in denying her motion to dismiss because the charges filed in the second prosecution in the Eastern District are for the same offense and the same continuing course of conduct in violation of her right to be free from double jeopardy under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[2] However, appellant is mistaken.

          Our supreme court has made it clear that rape is not a continuing offense, in that each act occurring as the result of a separate impulse constitutes a separate offense. Ricks v. State, 327 Ark. 513, 940 S.W.2d 422 (1997); see also Bean v. State, 2012 Ark.App. 643. Here, although the victim is the same, the alleged rape in the Western District occurred on August 30, 2016, in the Motel 6 in Jonesboro. The alleged rapes in the Eastern District occurred between August 31 and September 15, 2016, at the victim's residence in Caraway, Arkansas. Therefore, because each charge was the result of a separate impulse separated in point of time, the charges were not for the same continuing offense, and appellant was properly charged with separate offenses. ...


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