State v. English

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 02-25-2015
  • Case #: A153228
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. for the court; Duncan P.J.; & Edmonds S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A person who is aware of, and consciously disregards, a substantial and unjustifiable risk that an injury will occur acts recklessly, not knowingly.

Defendant appealed his conviction for two counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment. The conviction was based on two incidents in which a dog owned by Defendant’s live-in boyfriend bit Defendant’s daughter. Defendant argued the trial court erred in denying her motion for judgment of acquittal (MJOA) because the state proffered insufficient evidence to support the inference that she “intentionally or knowingly caused physical injury” to her daughter. The state responded that a rational factfinder could infer from the dog’s history of biting children that Defendant knew that the dog had the “propensity to bite” and that this permits an inference that Defendant violated the law when she knowingly failed to keep her daughter away from the dog. The state argued Defendant’s omission (failure to remove the dangerous dog) constituted a knowingly assaultive act. Defendant argued that a person who ‘is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk’ that an injury will occur acts recklessly,’ not ‘knowingly[.]’ The Court found that the evidence may permit an inference that Defendant committed a crime involving a reckless mental state; however, Defendant was charged with a crime that requires proof that she “knowingly” engaged in assaultive conduct. The evidence is insufficient to show that Defendant knowingly caused V’s injuries. Reversed.

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