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State v. Basnet

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

June 19, 2013

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SUSHIL BASNET, Defendant-Appellant

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAII REPORTS AND PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE FAMILY COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (FC-CRIMINAL NO. 11-1-1675)

Steven T. Barta for Defendant-Appellant.

James M. Anderson, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, City and County of Honolulu for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Foley, Presiding J., Leonard and Ginoza, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Defendant-Appellant Sushil Basnet (Basnet) appeals from the September 23, 2011 Judgment entered in the Family Court of the First Circuit[1] (circuit family court) convicting Basnet on one count of Abuse of Family or Household Members in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 709-906(1) (Supp. 2012).

On appeal, Basnet contends the circuit family court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the complaint because (1) his arraignment proceeding failed to comply with the requirements of the Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure (HRPP), and (2) the complaint insufficiently alleged the essential elements of the offense.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 9, 2011, Plaintiff-Appellee State of Hawai'i (State) charged Basnet with "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly physically abus[ing the complaining witness (Wife)], a family or household member, " in violation of HRS § 709-906(1) . The complaint's caption stated: "IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT[, ] HONOLULU DIVISION[, ] STATE OF HAWAII."

On June 21, 2011, Basnet appeared before the Honorable Darryl Y.C. Choy for an arraignment and plea hearing. The pretrial order from that hearing indicates Basnet waived reading of the charge and entered a plea of not guilty. The pre-trial order also stated: "Jury trial demanded, case committed to [c]ircuit [family] [c]ourt." The record indicates this was the only arraignment proceeding conducted in this case.

The circuit family court held a calendar call on September 20, 2011, during which the State made an oral motion to amend the complaint's caption to state that the complaint was filed in the circuit family court. Basnet objected, and two days later, the circuit family court heard argument on the State's motion. The State argued the complaint's heading reflected a typographical error. Basnet responded by orally moving to dismiss the case. Basnet first argued the circuit family court lacked jurisdiction because his arraignment failed to comply with the HRPP's requirements.[2] Basnet also argued the complaint was deficient because it failed to define the terms "physical abuse" and "family or household member." The circuit family court concluded it had jurisdiction, and it granted the State's oral motion to amend the complaint's caption.

At the conclusion of the trial, a jury found Basnet guilty as charged. The circuit family court entered its judgment of conviction against Basnet on September 23, 2011. Basnet filed a timely notice of appeal on October 18, 2011.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Interpretation Of Court Rules


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