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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 10, 2017

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and Ben Rowe, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Attorneys 2:

Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; and Steven D. Bagby, Assistant Public Defender, Blountville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Janice Darlene Helbert.

Judge(s): WOODALL

Defendant, Janice Darlene Helbert, was issued a Uniform Citation of Complaint for the offenses of driving under the influence and following too closely. The citation included the officer's narrative of the facts underlying the offenses. The officer also prepared an affidavit of complaint, which he signed under oath before a notary public. Three days later, the affidavit of complaint was signed by a deputy clerk. Over one year later, Defendant waived her right to a preliminary hearing and agreed to have her case bound over to the grand jury. The grand jury subsequently returned a presentment against Defendant for the misdemeanor offenses above, as well as one count of felony reckless endangerment. Subsequent to the presentment, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the two misdemeanor counts as time barred, arguing that the affidavit of complaint was void because the officer did not make the oath in the presence of an authorized official capable of making a probable cause determination. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charges. The State sought and was granted an interlocutory appeal of the trial court's decision. On appeal, the State contends that the fact that the affidavit of complaint was sworn before a notary public rather than a qualified judicial officer was a “technical defect” that should not render it void. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.