State v. Hazlett

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 03-04-2015
  • Case #: A151569
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & De Muniz, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

An expert witness who is a pharmacologist and an anesthesiologist is qualified to testify in regards to a defendant's ability to form criminal intent. A contradictory trial court determination on that issue would not prove to be harmless error for charges that require the state to prove that the defendant acted knowingly or intentionally.

Defendant appeals convictions for first-degree unlawful penetration, first-degree sexual abuse, fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence, and harassment. Defendant was arrested after he had forcibly penetrated the victim after having consumed alcohol, morphine, Xanax, and Oxycodone. At trial, the defense tried to have an expert witness testify to the fact that defendant acted under a condition of drug-induced dementia wherein he was unable to form the requisite state of intent for the crimes. Defendant assigns error to the trial court’s decision that his expert witness was not qualified to testify about intent. The Court determined that defendant had preserved the issue of allowing the expert witness to testify for appeal. When reviewed for legal error, the Court held that the expert witness was qualified to testify about the effects of the drug cocktail on the formation of intent even though he is not specifically qualified to discuss the legal theories behind the word “intent.” The witness’s education, experience, and publication on drug-induced dementia qualified him to testify about the ability of someone on such drugs to form intent. The court further determined that the error was not harmless in regards to the counts that required the defendant to act knowingly or intentionally. Reversed and remanded.

Advanced Search