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State v. Fox

Supreme Court of South Dakota

May 29, 2013

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
TRAVIS LONG FOX, Defendant and Appellant.

CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON JANUARY 8, 2013

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT SULLY COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE JOHN L. BROWN Judge

MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General JOHN M. STROHMAN Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

AL ARENDT Pierre, South Dakota Attorney for defendant and appellant.

OPINION

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice.

[¶1.] While intoxicated, Travis Long Fox stole a vehicle, drove the vehicle into a ditch, and then fled the scene of the accident. The State brought various charges against Long Fox, including grand theft. Long Fox entered into a "Deferred Prosecution Agreement" (the Agreement) with the State, in which the State agreed to defer prosecution of the grand theft charge if Long Fox pleaded guilty to other charges and complied with additional conditions for a period of 24 months. One of the conditions required Long Fox to plead guilty to grand theft if he violated any of the other conditions of the Agreement. A few months into the 24-month period, Long Fox violated some of the conditions of the Agreement. As a result, the State re-filed the grand theft charge against Long Fox. Long Fox then filed a motion to exercise his right to a jury trial, which the circuit court denied based upon the terms of the Agreement. Ultimately, Long Fox pleaded guilty to grand theft and was sentenced. Long Fox appeals the circuit court's denial of his motion to exercise his right to a jury trial on the grand theft charge.

FACTS

[¶2.] On August 15, 2010, 18-year-old Long Fox stole a car, drove the car off of the road and into rural fence lines, and got the car stuck in a ditch. He then fled the scene of the accident. Subsequently, a police officer was called to the scene. Witnesses at the scene told the officer that Long Fox admitted he took the car and got it stuck in the ditch. Upon learning that Long Fox was staying at a friend's residence, the officer contacted Long Fox's friend and received permission to enter the residence in order to apprehend Long Fox. When the officer entered the home, he located Long Fox, placed him in custody, and read him his Miranda rights.

[¶3.] Long Fox waived his rights and agreed to speak with the officer. Long Fox admitted he had taken the car and wrecked it. He also admitted he had consumed alcohol before driving the car. Additionally, Long Fox admitted he had previously stolen a tractor battery from a neighbor's tractor in an incident unrelated to the theft of the vehicle.

[¶4.] On August 18, 2010, Long Fox was charged with grand theft, in violation of SDCL 22-30A-17; reckless driving, in violation of SDCL 32-24-1; failure to report an accident, in violation of SDCL 32-34-7; minor in consumption, in violation of SDCL 35-9-2; and petty theft, in violation of SDCL 22-30A-17.3. An amended complaint was filed on September 1, 2010, which added charges of possession of marijuana, in violation of SDCL 22-42-6, and ingestion, in violation of SDCL 22-42-15, to the list of charges being brought against Long Fox. Long Fox was arraigned on these charges on September 22, 2010, and he entered a plea of "not guilty" to all charges.

[¶5.] On October 6, 2010, Long Fox appeared before the magistrate court and entered into the Agreement with the State. The Agreement was signed by the magistrate judge. As part of the Agreement, the State agreed to defer prosecution of the grand theft charge for 24 months if Long Fox complied with certain conditions. One of these conditions was that Long Fox plead guilty to reckless driving, ingestion, and failure to report an accident. In exchange for pleading guilty to these charges, the State would dismiss the possession, minor in consumption, and petty theft charges with prejudice. The Agreement also contained other conditions, including that Long Fox participate in the 24/7 program, not consume or possess alcohol or controlled substances, pay restitution to the owner of the car and the owner of the fence, and provide a factual basis for the grand theft charge within the Agreement, which would be used against him if the grand theft charge was re-filed.

[¶6.] According to the terms of the Agreement, if Long Fox complied with the conditions for 24 months, the State would file a dismissal of the grand theft charge with prejudice. However, if Long Fox violated any of the conditions, the grand theft charge would be re-filed and Long Fox would plead guilty to grand theft. By signing the Agreement, Long Fox acknowledged that he understood his rights, the nature of the charges against him, the maximum penalties that could be imposed for his offenses, and the rights he waived by pleading guilty. Further, Long Fox acknowledged that he entered into the Agreement freely and voluntarily. After pleading guilty to reckless driving, ingestion, and failure to report an accident in accordance with the terms of the Agreement, Long Fox was placed on probation.

[¶7.] Months after entering into the Agreement, Long Fox violated the conditions of his probation and of the Agreement. Specifically, Long Fox tested positive for marijuana on January 13, 2011, and he missed his preliminary breath test on April 21, 2011. Additionally, on July 15, 2011, Long Fox attempted to provide a false urine sample to law enforcement and then tested positive for marijuana. As a result of Long Fox's violation of the conditions of his probation and of the Agreement, the State re-filed the grand theft charge against Long Fox. The State also moved to revoke Long Fox's probation and its deferment of prosecution of the grand theft charge. On October 19, 2011, Long Fox moved to exercise his right to a jury trial. The circuit court denied this motion, ruling that Long Fox was contractually bound by the terms of the Agreement, which required him to plead guilty to grand theft if he violated the conditions of the Agreement.[1]

[ΒΆ8.] A hearing was scheduled for November 9, 2011, to address the State's motion to revoke Long Fox's probation and its deferment of prosecution of the grand theft charge. At the hearing, Long Fox admitted to violating the conditions of his probation and of the Agreement. Long Fox was then re-arraigned on the grand theft charge. Despite his desire to plead not guilty and exercise his right to a jury trial on the grand theft charge, Long Fox reluctantly pleaded guilty to grand theft in accordance with the terms of the Agreement. Long Fox was sentenced on February 13, 2012. The circuit court imposed a jail term of 5 years, with all but 60 days ...


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