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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-30186, Thursday, December 19, 2013, 10 a.m.
STATE OF HAWAI`I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. HERMAN DECOITE, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee.
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorney for Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee:
James S. Tabe, Deputy Public Defender
Attorneys for Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant:
Pamela Lundquist and Emlyn N. Higa, Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 10/28/13.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SRA, SSM, & RWP, JJ.
Petitioner, Herman Decoite, appeals from the ICA’s July 16, 2013 judgment that reversed the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit’s (family court) order dismissing one misdemeanor count of abuse of a family or household member (domestic abuse). On application for writ of certiorari to this court, Decoite asks us to decide whether domestic abuse under the abuse of a family or household member statute may be charged as a continuing offense and whether the ICA erred in considering certain exhibits proferred by the State.
This case arises out of several acts of domestic abuse that Decoite allegedly committed against his former girlfriend over a continuous period that began on February 1, 2005 and ended on June 1, 2007. Although the State alleged that Decoite abused his girlfriend on a weekly basis, the State only produced records of two specific incidents of domestic abuse that occurred on November 29, 2006 and March 13, 2007. The State brought charges against Decoite on April 3, 2009, placing these two incidents outside of the two-year statute of limitations. The State’s complaint alleged that the charge against Decoite was based on a continuous course of abuse that ended in June of 2007, a date that falls within the statute of limitations.
Before the family court, Decoite argued that domestic abuse cannot be charged as a continuing offense, and that the complaint against him was barred by the statute of limitations. The family court agreed and dismissed the State’s complaint without prejudice. The ICA reversed, holding that domestic abuse may be charged as a continuing offense because “physical abuse” may extend beyond discrete moments, and because the legislature specifically contemplated the continuing and repetitive nature of abuse.