Case Caption: Lee J. Rohn v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2011-0087Date: 11/21/2012Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In an appeal by a defendant who pled guilty to a charge for simple possession of a controlled substance as a first offender, but objected to the Superior Court judge's invocation of 20 V.I.C. § 378(a) to suspend her driver's license for two years, the Superior Court clearly erred when it applied that provision in the absence of a judgment. Applying the plain meaning of the applicable statutes, the Legislature did not intend for §378(a) to apply to defendants who receive §607(b)(1) probationary treatment. Section 378(c) requires a judge who invokes § 378(a) to forward the defendant's driver's license together with a copy of the judgment to the Commissioner of Police. While the Superior Court's order finding that the defendant had satisfactorily fulfilled the conditions of her probation constitutes a "judgment"-albeit one that dismisses all charges against her-§378 also states that the two-year period for suspending a license begins upon the date of "conviction." Section 607(b)(1) makes clear that a discharge or dismissal from probation shall not be deemed a conviction for any purpose, and it expressly mandates that probation be imposed without entering a judgment of guilty, even if the defendant wishes to enter a plea of guilty. Section 378 establishes a general license revocation scheme for all individuals convicted under the controlled substances law, and there is no clear evidence that the Legislature intended that general provision to supersede the more specific statute, §607, which prescribes a special procedure governing first-time offenders. Thus the mandatory license revocation provisions found in 20 V.I.C. §378 do not apply to individuals who qualify for probation without conviction under 19 V.I.C. § 607(b)(1). Accordingly, the April 20, 2011 opinion of the Superior Court is reversed, along with that portion of the December 6, 2011 judgment and sentence that revokes the defendant's driving privileges for two years

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion