|Roman v. Carroll
|Safford Animal Hospital v. Blain
|State ex rel. William Montgomery v. Brain
|The special action considers whether a person who uses a dangerous instrument in committing an animal cruelty offense may be sentenced as a dangerous offender. The facts in the underlying case are as follows. A witness in an apartment complex heard a dog crying and observed Shundog Hu using a rod to hit a dog that was inside a pet enclosure. Hu was charged with both intentionally or knowingly subjecting an animal to cruel mistreatment, a felony, and under the "dangerous offense" laws because the animal cruelty "involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a pole and/or rod, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, in violation of A.R.S. §§ 13-105 and 13-704." Hu moved to dismiss the dangerous offense allegation stating that, as a matter of law, "a dangerous offense cannot be committed against an animal." Hu contended that the legislature's inclusion of the phrase "on another person" in the statutory definition for "dangerous offense" evinces this intent. The State, on the other hand, argued that sentencing enhancement is based on the use of the dangerous instrument rather than the target of the instrument. The superior court granted Hu's motion and the State petitioned for this special action. This court accepted jurisdiction because " the State has no adequate remedy on appeal and the petition presents a legal issue of statewide importance." This court first examined the statutory definition for a "dangerous" felony offense: "an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.” The State's contention is that the "or" in the definition is disjunctive and, thus, the phrase "on another person" only applies to the second independent clause. Hu counters that such an interpretation would cover harm to anything and lead to absurd results. This court first noted that the statutory definitions are silent as to whether they only apply to humans. Applying principles of secondary interpretation and sensible construction, the court held that legislature's purpose in drafting the dangerous offense definition and the related statutes was to enhance crimes to “dangerous offenses” to protect human life. The State cannot charge a crime as a dangerous offense unless the target is against another person. In reaching this conclusion, the court contemplated extreme examples involving felony damage to vegetation as well as comparison to a recent decision in Texas where a deadly weapon finding was limited to human victims only.
|State v. Spreitz