State v. Fanger

In State v. Fanger, 164 Vt. 48, 665 A.2d 36 (1995), the defendant was charged with unlawful trespass into an apartment he managed. He moved for dismissal of the information on the ground that the prosecution would be unable to make out a prima facie case against him pursuant to V.R.Cr.P. 12(d). At issue in Fanger was whether the State could show that the defendant knew he was not privileged to enter the apartment, an essential element of the crime charged. In support of his motion to dismiss, the defendant offered his own affidavit describing his version of what occurred when he entered the apartment. Based on the explanation offered in the defendant's affidavit that he entered to turn on the heat in other apartments and that he believed the tenancy had ended, the trial court ruled that the State failed to show that defendant knew he was not privileged to enter the apartment and dismissed the information. The State appealed. On appeal, this Court held that, while "normally, a prima-facie-case ruling is made solely on evidence offered by the State," the trial court should consider evidence provided by the defendant when assessing whether the State had admissible evidence on each element of the charged offense. Fanger, 164 Vt. at 52, 665 A.2d 37-38. The Court noted that V.R.Cr.P. 12(d)(2) permits the defendant to introduce affidavits or further evidence on his or her behalf. Id. at 52, 665 A.2d at 38. Therefore, we concluded that, "in view of this authorization, we believe the trial court must make its ruling based on all the evidence before it, whether produced by the State or the defendant." Id. The Court also concluded that a comparison of the defendant's explanation of his intent, considered in light of evidence from other witnesses that clearly disputed the defendant's claimed purpose for entry, gave rise to an inference that the defendant knew he did not have a license or privilege to enter. Id. at 53, 665 A.2d at 38. Therefore, the Court held, the case should not have been dismissed.