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State v. Swanson

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 11-10-2011
Case #: S059135
Linder, J. for the Court; De Muniz, C. J; Durham, J; Balmer, J; Kistler, J; Walters, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S059135.pdf

Criminal Procedure: A jury's authority to find a defendant guilty of a crime, the commission of which is necessarily included in that with which the defendant is charged, extends only to an offense for which a prison sentence is authorized.

Defendant was convicted of reckless driving. He asked the trial court to instruct the jury on the elements of careless driving, a traffic violation, arguing that it was a lesser-included offense of reckless driving. The trial court declined to so instruct the jury. The Court of Appeals affirmed, reasoning that crimes and violations are distinct categories of offenses and juries are authorized to consider only lesser-included crimes, not lesser-included violations, of a charged crime. The Supreme Court agreed that the jury's authority to find a defendant guilty of any crime, "the commission of which is necessarily included in that with which the defendant is charged," extends only to an offense for which a prison sentence is authorized. The offense for which the defendant in this case sought lesser-included treatment was not a crime within the meaning of that definition. Affirmed.