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City of Grand Forks v. Jacobson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 31, 2016

City of Grand Forks, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Nicole Louell Jacobson, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Donald Hager, Judge.

          Sarah W. Gereszek (argued), City Prosecutor and Kristi P. Venhuizen (on brief), City Prosecutor, for plaintiff and appellee.

          Challis Williams (argued), under the Rule on Limited Practice of Law by Law Students, and Alexander F. Reichert (appeared), for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          KAPSNER, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Nicole Jacobson appeals from a criminal judgment entered after the district court denied her motion to dismiss and she conditionally pled guilty to driving under suspension or revocation under Grand Forks City Code § 8-0201. We conclude the district court erred in analyzing Jacobson's motion to dismiss under N.D.C.C. § 39-06-42 and failing to apply relevant municipal code provisions. We reverse and remand.

         I

         [¶ 2] On February 17, 2015, Jacobson was charged in Grand Forks municipal court with driving under suspension or revocation in violation of the Grand Forks City Code ("G.F.C.C.") § 8-0201, a class B misdemeanor. She requested a jury trial, and as provided by N.D.C.C. § 40-18-15.1, the case was transferred to Grand Forks County district court.

         [¶ 3] Jacobson moved the district court to dismiss the case, contending N.D.C.C. § 39-06-42(3) confers the court with discretion to dismiss a driving under suspension charge if the defendant's operator's license is reinstated within sixty days of the date of the offense. In its response to Jacobson's motion, the City agreed the district court had discretion to dismiss the charge, citing N.D.C.C. § 39-06-42(3) and G.F.C.C. § 8-1503, but argued the facts of this case did not support dismissal.

         [¶ 4] The district court denied Jacobson's motion concluding N.D.C.C. § 39-06-42(3) did not provide the court any discretion to dismiss the charge. She subsequently entered a conditional guilty plea to driving under suspension or revocation under G.F.C.C. § 8-0201.

         II

         [¶ 5] Jacobson argues the district court erred as a matter of law in ruling N.D.C.C. § 39-06-42(3) did not provide the court with discretion to dismiss the charge of driving under suspension.

         [¶ 6] Section 39-06-42, N.D.C.C., states in relevant part:

1. Except as provided in section 39-06.1-11, an individual who operates a motor vehicle on a highway or on public or private areas to which the public has a right of access for vehicular use in this state while an individual's operator's license is suspended or revoked in any jurisdiction is guilty of a class B misdemeanor for the first, second, or third offense within a ...

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