State v. Simonsen

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-02-2015
  • Case #: A155995
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Flynn, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

When considering an assignment of error under the plain error doctrine, if case law and the statute do not clearly provide an certain outcome, the trial court will not be held to have committed plain error.

Defendant appealed a judgment convicting him of unauthorized use of a vehicle. Defendant took and drove his mother’s car after she denied consent to do so. Defendant did not preserve his assignment of error for appeal but argued that the trial court committed plain error with the jury instructions issued regarding ownership of the vehicle. At trial, the State presented evidence that Defendant’s mother owned the car and had not given him permission to use it. Defendant presented evidence that his father owned the car jointly with his mother and had given him consent to use it. The jury instructions did not reflect Defendant’s theory of the case, that a joint-owner (the father) had given consent to use the car. Rather, the instructions only referenced Defendant’s mother as the owner who had denied consent. Defendant did not request a different version of the instruction or object to the State’s version. Case law and the statute itself do not clearly provide the outcome of a situation where co-owners give conflicting answers to Defendant regarding consent to use a car. Since the error was not plain, the issue was unpreserved and the Court did not consider it further. Affirmed.

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