DWI: Sufficiency of Complaints
Posted on Sep 16, 2010 12:00am PDT
In the ever seemingly distant past, the Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether a charge of "DWI" on a criminal complaint amounted to sufficient notice for the charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol to proceed forward. The Court held that a charging document alleging a violation of "DWI" was not sufficiently plead to bring a charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol. It reasoned that "DWI" was legally understood as meaning "died without issue." See, State v. Raley, 86 N.M. 190, 192 (N.M. Ct. App. 1974). Subsequently, in State v. Cavanaugh,116 N.M. 826 (Ct. App. 1994), the same Court questioned whether or not Raley was still good law. Sufficiency and adequacy of a criminal complaint remain issues to be litigated from time to time.
In the near future, I anticipate that criminal complaints will also be dismissed for a lack of possible success on the merits based on the allegations on the face of the complaint: complaints will be dismissed if success on the merits is not "plausible." A recent U.S. Supreme Court case found that a civil case can be dismissed for that very reason. I believe there are criminal complaints that should be dismissed, and will be dismissed for the same reason in the near future. Recently, I attempted to litigate the issue. Just prior to my opportunity to litigate the issue, the case was dismissed.... I guess I'll have to wait.