Court: gas station assault and rape were not a “single criminal episode”

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A Utah man recently lost his appeal of his aggravated sexual assault convictions. The man’s convictions stem from an interaction he had with his live-in girlfriend one summer after a heavy day of drinking.

The couple reportedly spent the day and evening drinking vodka and then got into the shower together at their home. The man’s girlfriend left the shower because she said he was acting strangely, and testified that he followed her into the bedroom and forced her to have intercourse with him. The girlfriend said that she continued to resist him until he finally stopped.

The girlfriend testified that after forced to have intercourse she was distraught so she went to the kitchen to have a drink to calm herself down. She eventually decided that she would go to a local gas station for cigarettes and her boyfriend joined her.

She said that he knocked her down and started hitting her en route to the gas station, and that his happened again after they bought cigarettes. The gas station attendant allegedly saw the second incident and called police.

Police officers arrested the boyfriend and observed physical wounds on the girlfriend. She told officers that he had beat her but did not inform them about the sexual assault.

The girlfriend’s father convinced her to get a rape kit done later in the evening of the assault. Evidence from the rape kit indicated that she had a torn labia and redness on the roof of her mouth.

These events led authorities to charge the man with misdemeanor assault and violation of a no contact order for allegedly choking the girlfriend at the gas station. The violation of the no contact order arose from a phone call he made to the girlfriend shortly after he was arrested. The boyfriend pleaded guilty to these charges.

A second prosecution ensued for the forced sexual encounter and resulted in aggravated sexual assault charges. In his appeal, the boyfriend contended that these charges were barred because they resulted from the same criminal episode as his gas station attack. Utah generally requires offenses arising out of the same criminal episode to be tried together.

The Utah Court of Appeals denied the man’s appeal because it found that the prosecutor did not know about the sexual assault at the time the boyfriend was arraigned on the gas station charges. The court further found that the gas station assault and the sexual assault were not a single criminal episode because they did not share a single criminal objective.

Source: State v. Selzer, 2013 WL 49708, 725 Utah Adv. Rep. 36, Jan. 4, 2013

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