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State v. Toland

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-25-2012
Case #: A141030
Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Brewer, J; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://courts.oregon.gov/Publications/A141030.pdf

Criminal Law: A trial court may not preclude a presented defense when the defendant offers evidence to support that defense.

Defendants were convicted of hindering prosecution under ORS 163.325. Defendants asserted that the trial court erred in precluding them from a defense based on federal confidentiality regulations. Defendants were employees of Cascadia Behavioral Health Care (CBHC) who refused to tell police officers whether the suspect was present for confidentiality reasons. After the suspect was arrested, Defendants were charged with hindering prosecution. 42 CFR § 2.12(a)(1) confidentiality rules restrict the ability of a drug or alcohol treatment program employee from acknowledging the presence of a patient in the facility. Defendants argued that their particular location provided only drug and alcohol services. The trial court interpreted “facility” to refer to an agency as a whole, finding CBHC to be the facility. The trial court ruled that since the facility offered more than drug and alcohol treatment the federal regulation was not a defense. The Court of Appeals found that “facility”, as used in the federal regulation, refers to the office in question and not the agency as a whole. Thus, the trial court erred precluding the defense. Reversed and remanded.