"Restraint" for Kidnapping must be more than Incidental to Committing Another Crime


State v. Sheffield (HSC January 2, 2020)
Background. David Sheffield was charged with kidnapping in violation of HRS § 707-720(1)(d) and assault in the third degree. Before trial, the prosecution dropped the assault count. At trial, the complainant testified that she was a student at the University of Hawai'i Maui College. One night in November she left the campus and thought she missed her bus that would take her upcountry. She walked toward the highway to hitchhike. As she walked down Alamaha Street she heard a voice yelling at her to “come hang out.” She ignored it. She went to a store to get a cigarette lighter and when she came out, she heard the voice again asking her to stop and wait. Sheffield approached her and asked for a cigarette. She refused. He followed her and asked her to come over to his house.

She did not feel threatened by him, but noticed he was getting more aggressive. She kept walking and he kept trying to stop her. He then ran in front of her and said “I want to fuck you.” He then said he was “going to knock [her] out.” He threatened to beat her up. She turned to run away and he grabbed a loop on the back of her backpack and pulled her back five to ten steps. He gave a hard tug and the complainant turned around, broke free, and ran away. She ran to a hardware store, called her boyfriend, and got a ride home.

The trial court (Hon. Judge Peter Cahill) instructed the jury on the elements of kidnapping:

The defendant, DAVID MICHAEL SHEFFIELD, is charged with the offense of Kidnapping.
          A person commits the offense of Kidnapping if he intentionally or knowingly restrains another person with intent to inflict bodily injury upon that person or subject that person to a sexual offense.
          There are three material elements of the offense of Kidnapping, each of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. These three elements are:
          1. That, on or about the 16th day of November, 2015, in the County of Maui, State of Hawai'i, the Defendant restrained another person; and
          2. That the Defendant did so intentionally or knowingly; and
          3. That the Defendant did so with the intent to inflict bodily injury upon that person or subject that person to a sexual offense.

          The trial court defined “restrain” to mean “restrict a person’s movement in such a manner as to interfere substantially with her liberty by means of force[.]” Sheffield was found guilty as charged and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. He appealed and the HSC accepted transfer of the case.

Kidnapping in Hawai'i Requires a “Restraint” that is more than “Incidental” to Committing Another Offense. “A person commits the offense of kidnapping if the person intentionally or knowingly restrains another person with intent to . . . [i]nflict bodily injury upon that person or subject that person to a sexual offense.” HRS § 707-720(1)(d). “Restrain” is defined

to restrict a person’s movement in such a manner as to interfere substantially with the person’s liberty: (1) By means of force, threat, or deception; or (2) If the person is under the age of eighteen or incompetent, without the consent of the relative, person, or institution having lawful custody of the person.

HRS § 707-700.

Sheffield argued that the jury should have been instructed that “restraint” arising to the level needed to convict for kidnapping must be in excess of the restraint incidental to the infliction or intended infliction of bodily injury or sexual assault. The HSC examined the dearth of legislative history of the statute, the commentary, the model penal code, and decisions from other jurisdictions and agreed.

But What makes Something “Incidental”? The HSC ultimately held that kidnapping is not supposed to cover unlawful confinement or movements “incidental” other the commission of other offenses. See State v. Trujillo, 289 P.3d 238, 240 (N. M. Ct. App. 2012). Having held that this clarified definition of “restraint” is needed before a conviction can be secured, the HSC examined what kind of instruction was needed. It looked again to New Mexico. There, the changed its instructions to require the prosecution to prove “the taking or restraint . . . of [the complainant] was not slight, inconsequential, or merely incidental to the commission of another crime[.]” State v. Sena, 419 P.3d 1240, 1248 (N. M. Ct. App. 2018).


The HSC held that “restraint necessary to support a kidnapping conviction under HRS § 707-720(10(d) must be restraint that is in excess of any restraint incidental to the infliction or intended infliction of bodily injury or subjection or intended subjection of a person to a sexual offense.” The HSC, in a footnote, expressly stated that it is not addressing restraint based on other subsections of HRS § 707-720(1) or unlawful imprisonment violation of HRS §§ 707-721 and 722. The HSC vacated the judgment and remanded it back.

The Last time the HSC Looked at Statutory Definitions . . . The HSC adopted this interpretation of the word “restraint” in the Hawai'i Penal Code. It would seem that “restraint” has departed from the common understanding and ordinary meaning of the word, which would thus require a change in the wording of charging documents. See State v. Wheeler, 121 Hawai'i 383, 391-395, 219 P.3d 1170, 1170-1182 (2009). Perhaps the final part in all of this is rewording the charging documents to reflect this new understanding of the word “restraint” when used for kidnapping in violation of HRS § 707-720(1)(d).

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