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State v. Carpenter

Supreme Court of Oregon

August 8, 2019

STATE OF OREGON, Respondent on Review,
v.
SHANNON DEWAYNE CARPENTER, Petitioner on Review.

          Argued and submitted September 13, 2018

          On review from the Court of Appeals CC 15CR0052, CA A159994. [*]

          Rond Chananudech, Deputy Public Defender, Office of Public Defense Services, Salem, argued the cause and fled the brief for petitioner on review. Also on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender.

          Greg Rios, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, argued the cause and fled the brief for respondent on review. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Walters, Chief Justice, and Balmer, Nakamoto, Flynn, Duncan, and Nelson, Justices. [**]

         [365 Or. 489] Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal on the charge of hindering prosecution, in which the state alleged that he had "concealed" a person for whom a felony arrest warrant had been issued by falsely denying knowing or associating with the wanted person. The trial court denied defendant's motion and defendant was convicted. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Held: (1) In requiring proof of "conceal[ing]" another person, ORS 162.325(1)(a) required the state to prove that defendant had hidden the wanted person from ordinary observation; and (2) the state's evidence-in this case, defendant's false denials of knowledge-did not satisfy that requirement.

         [365 Or. 490]NELSON, J.

         Defendant seeks review of an opinion of the Court of Appeals affirming his conviction for hindering prosecution under ORS 162.325(1)(a). Among other things, that statute prohibits "conceal[ing]" a person who has committed a crime punishable as a felony, with a requisite intent. The question that we address is whether defendant "concealed" a person for whom a felony arrest warrant had been issued when, upon questioning by a police detective, defendant falsely denied knowing or associating with the wanted person. In response to defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal on the charge of hindering prosecution, the trial court concluded that defendant's denials amounted to concealing the wanted person's whereabouts, and it therefore denied defendant's motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed. State v. Carpenter, 287 Or.App. 720, 404 P.3d 1135 (2017). We conclude that, in requiring proof of "conceal[ing]" another person, ORS 162.325(1)(a) required the state to prove that defendant had hidden the wanted person from ordinary observation. We further conclude that the state's evidence- in this case, defendant's false denials of knowledge-did not satisfy that requirement, and we therefore reverse the judgment of conviction and remand to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings.

         We set out the facts in the light most favorable to the state. State v. Makin, 360 Or. 238, 240, 381 P.3d 799 (2016). Detective Gardiner had an arrest warrant for a person named Haussler. After a neighbor had reported seeing Haussler on Haussler's property, Gardiner drove to Haussler's property to arrest him. The only structure on the property was a two-car garage with a door on the side. When Gardiner arrived at the property, he saw a white pickup truck parked in the driveway. As Gardiner was looking around the outside of the garage, he saw the side door swing open and then saw a person matching Haussler's description run away. Rather than chase that person, Gardiner looked in the garage and, after not seeing anybody inside, called for backup.

         About a minute later, Gardiner saw defendant and a woman on the property. According to Gardiner, they "appeared to have come from inside the garage area." Gardiner approached [365 Or. 491] them and told defendant that he was looking for Haussler and that he had a felony warrant for Haussler's arrest. Defendant denied knowing Haussler or knowing Haussler's whereabouts. Gardiner told defendant that he just saw someone run away whom he believed to be Haussler and advised defendant about the "hindering prosecution laws." Nevertheless, at least four times, defendant denied knowing Haussler. Gardiner asked who might have run away, and defendant said he did not know who had run and did not "acknowledge that anybody had run."[1] Defendant denied coming onto the property with Haussler and claimed that he had arrived in the truck with only the woman.

         After his conversation with defendant, Gardiner spoke to the neighbor who had reported seeing Haussler. The neighbor indicated that he saw Haussler arrive in the truck. With that information, Gardiner returned to defendant and again asked him if he knew Haussler. Defendant still denied knowing him. Gardiner later indicated that, at that point, he had believed that he had probable cause to arrest defendant for hindering prosecution, but had instead decided to pursue Haussler, whom Gardiner believed to be close by.

         Later that day, officers found Haussler on nearby property. Haussler told officers that he had arrived at the property with defendant. Shortly after Haussler was arrested, officers arrested defendant for hindering prosecution and brought him to jail. Jail staff found two straws containing a controlled substance in defendant's shoe. The state charged defendant with hindering prosecution through concealment under ORS 162.325(1)(a), contending that defendant had concealed Haussler through what the state alleged were deceptive statements about knowing Haussler or his whereabouts. The state also charged defendant with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. Before trial, defendant moved to suppress the evidence of the controlled substance, claiming that the officers had lacked probable cause to arrest him for hindering prosecution because [365 Or. 492] his deceptive statements could not constitute concealment under ORS 162.325(1)(a) as a matter of law. The trial court denied that motion.

         At trial, the state prosecuted defendant for concealing Haussler based on his responses to Gardiner's questions. At the close of the state's case, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing that the state failed to present evidence that he had concealed Haussler under ORS 162.325(1)(a). The trial court denied the motion, and the jury found defendant guilty on both charges.

         Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in not granting his motions to suppress and for a judgment of acquittal because he had not "conceal[ed]" Haussler within the meaning of ORS 162.325(1)(a). After concluding that "conceal[]" was broad enough to encompass defendant's responses, the Court of Appeals determined that the officers had probable cause to arrest defendant and affirmed both convictions. Carpenter, 287 Or.App. at 722.

         We allowed review to determine the meaning of the word "conceal[ ]" under ORS 162.325(1)(a) and whether defendant's conduct-making false statements to the police-can constitute concealment under that statute.[2]

         The hindering prosecution statute, ORS 162.325, provides:

"(1) A person commits the crime of hindering prosecution if, with intent to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of a person who has committed a crime punishable as a felony, or with the intent to assist a person who has committed a crime punishable as a felony *** the person:
"(a) Harbors or conceals such person; or
"(b) Warns such person of impending discovery or ...

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