Carlson v. State

In Carlson v. State, 676 P.2d 603 (Alaska App. 1984), the defendant caused a multi-vehicle accident. Carlson first struck a motorcycle, then swerved and struck another vehicle. The driver of the motorcycle was injured severely enough that his leg later had to be amputated; all of the passengers in the other vehicle suffered serious injuries. The state troopers investigated the accident and issued Carlson a citation for negligent driving. Carlson later entered a plea of no contest to negligent driving; that same day, the Anchorage District Attorney's office received a copy of the police report, which indicated the extent of the motorcyclist's injury. Based on the motorcyclist's injury, Carlson was indicted for second-degree assault. Carlson then asked the trial court to dismiss this charge, unsuccessfully arguing that his conviction for negligent driving barred a subsequent prosecution for second-degree assault. On appeal, the Court rejected Carlson's double jeopardy argument and affirmed the assault conviction. (76 P.2d at 606.) The Court acknowledged in Carlson that if assault and negligent driving were the same offense under the facts and circumstances of that case, then double jeopardy would be triggered. But the Court found that we did not have to reach that analysis because we were "satisfied that negligent driving is not an 'offense' as that word is used in state and federal double jeopardy constitutional provisions." The Court reached this decision because the statute prohibiting negligent driving labels it an "infraction" and because the legislature had stated that an infraction was not a criminal offense. Consequently, The Court found no double jeopardy violation and affirmed the assault conviction.