United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION TO AMEND INFORMATION, OR TO DISMISS THE INFORMATION (ECF NO. 16)
John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
In this matter, by information, the Government has charged Defendant Justin S. Bent with operating a motor vehicle in Acadia National Park while intoxicated, with operating a motor vehicle without due care, and with the destruction or disturbance of trees, plants and other natural resources, in violation of 39 C.F.R. §§ 2.1, 4.22, and 4.23.
The matter is before the Court on the Government’s motion to amend the information, or alternatively to dismiss the information without prejudice in order to charge the felony of operating under the influence and causing serious bodily injury in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 13, assimilating 29-A M.R.S. § 2411, or alternatively to dismiss the information without prejudice to permit the Government to charge a felony by indictment. (Mot. to Amend or Dismiss Without Prejudice, ECF No. 16.) Defendant argues that the Government should be required to proceed as charged. (Def.’s Response, ECF No. 18.)
After consideration of the parties’ arguments, the Court grants the Government’s motion, and dismisses the information without prejudice.
Standard of Review
With leave of court, the Government may dismiss an indictment, information, or complaint prior to trial. Fed. R. Crim. P. 48(a). “Customarily Rule 48(a) dismissals are without prejudice and permit the government to reindict within the statute of limitations.” United States v. Raineri, 42 F.3d 36, 43 (1st Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 515 U.S. 1126 (1995).
The principal object of the ‘leave of court’ requirement is apparently to protect a defendant against prosecutorial harassment.... But the Rule has also been held to permit the court to deny a Government dismissal motion to which the defendant has consented if the motion is prompted by considerations clearly contrary to the public interest.
Rinaldi v. United States, 434 U.S. 22, 29 n.15 (1977) (per curiam) (citations omitted).
As the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained:
The concern of prosecutorial harassment speaks to the danger that a prosecutor will engage in a cycle of levying and dismissing charges against a particular defendant. The other concerns are harder to describe. Courts have equated a dismissal that is clearly contrary to the public interest with one in which the prosecutor appears motivated by bribery, animus towards the victim, or a desire to attend a social event rather than trial.
In re Richards, 213 F.3d 773, 787 (3d Cir. 2000). While the actual standards for the exercise of a court’s discretion under Rule 48(a) are unclear, “[a] court is generally required to grant a prosecutor’s Rule 48(a) motion to dismiss unless dismissal is ‘clearly contrary to manifest public interest.’” Id. at 787 (quoting United States v. Carrigan, 778 F.2d 1454, 1463 (10th Cir. 1985)); see also United States v. Martin, 287 F.3d 609, 623 (7th Cir. 2002) (“Since the judicial check on the prosecutorial power is a very limited one, a prosecutor’s motion to dismiss must be granted unless clearly contrary to manifest public interest.” (quotation marks omitted)). Courts have also held that “[t]he disposition of a government’s motion to dismiss an indictment should be decided by determining whether the prosecutor acted in good faith at the time he moved for dismissal.” United States v. Smith, 55 F.3d 157, 159 (4th Cir. 1995); United States v. Sprofera, 299 F.3d 725, 727 (8th Cir. 2002) (explaining that a finding that dismissal is contrary to manifest public interest is “determined by whether the prosecutor’s motion to dismiss was made in bad faith”); United States v. Goodson, 204 F.3d 508, 512 (4th Cir. 2000) (same).
When it seeks to dismiss a criminal action under Rule 48(a), the Government is entitled to a presumption of good faith, but a defendant may overcome the presumption by demonstrating that the dismissal is the product of bad faith or contrary to the public interest. See United States v. Matta, 937 F.2d 567, 568 (11th Cir. 1991); United States v. Wellborn, 849 F.2d 980, 983 (5th Cir. 1988); see also United States v. Greater Blouse, Skirt & Neckwear Contractors Ass’n, 228 F.Supp. 483, 486 (S.D.N.Y. 1964) (same, but noting that the Rule does not require the prosecutor to state the reasons for dismissal).
In support of its request, the Government maintains that relatively recently, it learned that a passenger in the vehicle operated by Plaintiff suffered serious bodily injury. According to the Government, the information regarding the seriousness of the injury was not evident from the investigation conducted by the National Park Service, and the Government became aware of the information through the victim’s medical ...