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Bass v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

November 18, 2016

BOBBY JACK BASS, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Trial Court No. 3PA-11-2791 CR Third Judicial District, Palmer, Gregory Heath, Judge.

          Andrew Steiner, Attorney at Law, Bend, Oregon, for the Appellant.

          Nancy R. Simel, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge. [*]

          OPINION

          ALLARD JUDGE.

         Bobby Jack Bass was convicted of failure to render assistance to an injured person after a vehicle accident, a class C felony. On appeal, he argues that the superior court improperly instructed the jury on the elements of that crime.

         We agree with Bass, and we reverse his conviction.

         Relevant legal background

         A pair of statutes, AS 28.35.050 and AS 28.35.060, define the duties of a driver who is involved in an accident where one or more people are injured or killed.[1]

         Alaska Statute 28.3 5.050(a) declares that the driver "shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible, " and that the driver shall then "return to, and remain at, the scene until the [driver] has fulfilled the requirements of AS 28.35.060."

         Subsection (a) of AS 28.35.060 defines two distinct groups of duties that the driver must fulfill. First, the driver must give his or her "name, address, and vehicle license number" to the injured person or to some other attending person. Second, the driver must "render ... reasonable assistance" to the injured person, "including making of arrangements for attendance upon the person by a physician and [for transporting the person], in a manner that will not cause further injury, to a hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is desirable."

         Although the driver must comply with both sets of duties, AS 28.35.060(b) and (c) create different penalties for a defendant's failure to perform each duty. Under AS 28.35.060(b), a driver who fails to provide identifying information is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to 1 year's imprisonment. Under AS 28.35.060(c), a driver who fails to render reasonable assistance to an injured person is guilty of a felony and faces up to 10 years' imprisonment.

         Why we reverse Bass's conviction

         In the current case, Bass was indicted under the felony provision of AS 28.35.060. That is, he was charged with failing to remain at the scene until he had rendered reasonable ...


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