petition for a writ of prohibition or mandamus challenging a
district court order denying a motion to dismiss a
felony-criminal charge. Petition denied.
J. Kohn, Public Defender, and Howard Brooks and Kenton G.
Eichacker, Deputy Public Defenders, Clark County, for
Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B.
Wolfson, District Attorney, Steven S. Owens, Chief Deputy
District Attorney, and Ryan J. MacDonald, Deputy District
Attorney, Clark County, for Real Party in Interest.
HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE and STIGLICH, JJ.
Double Jeopardy Clause protects a defendant from multiple
prosecutions for the same offense. This opinion addresses
whether a defendant's failure to comply with the terms of
a plea agreement with the State constitutes a waiver of that
protection. We hold that where a defendant pleads guilty to a
lesser charge pursuant to a plea agreement and fails to
comply with the terms of that agreement, he waives his right
to be protected from prosecution on a greater charge.
Accordingly, we deny the petition.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
9, 2016, the State charged petitioner Lonnie Sweat by way of
criminal complaint with battery constituting domestic
violence, a category C felony. Pursuant to negotiations with
real party in interest the State of Nevada, Sweat agreed to
plead guilty in justice court to one count of battery
constituting domestic violence, a misdemeanor, and in
district court to one count of battery constituting
substantial bodily harm, a felony. In exchange for his pleas,
the State agreed to drop the charge of battery constituting
domestic violence as a felony. Per the agreement, Sweat pleaded
guilty to the misdemeanor battery constituting domestic
violence and was immediately sentenced to time served. Sweat
also waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was bound
over to district court for entry of plea on the felony count
of battery causing substantial bodily harm.
his prior agreement with the State, Sweat refused to plead
guilty in the district court. As a result, the State filed an
amended information pursuant to NRS 173.035, reinstating the
original felony battery constituting domestic violence charge
that it had dropped pursuant to the terms of the plea
agreement. Sweat filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that his
misdemeanor conviction in the justice court barred
prosecution of the felony offense in the district court. The
district court denied Sweat's motion. The district court
held that plea agreements are subject to contract principles
and that Sweat violated the spirit of negotiations by
reneging on the plea agreement. The district court ordered
the State to place the misdemeanor matter back on the
calendar with the justice court to withdraw adjudication on
the misdemeanor charge.
now petitions this court for a writ of prohibition, alleging
that since he has already been convicted of misdemeanor
battery in the justice court, the Double Jeopardy Clause
protects him from prosecution for felony battery constituting
domestic violence in the district court. We
Sweat's petition should be entertained
of prohibition "arrests the proceedings of any tribunal,
corporation, board or person exercising judicial functions,
when such proceedings are without or in excess of the
jurisdiction of such tribunal, corporation, board or
person." NRS 34.320. The issuance of the writ is purely
discretionary, Smith v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court,
107 Nev. 674, 677, 818 P.2d 849, 851 (1991), and it will
generally not issue where the petitioner has a plain, speedy,
and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. NRS
34.330. A writ of prohibition is an appropriate vehicle to
address double jeopardy claims. See Glover v. Eighth
Judicial Dist. Court, 125 Nev. 691, 701, 220 P.3d 684,
692 (2009) ("A writ of prohibition will issue to
interdict retrial in violation of a defendant's
constitutional right not to be put in jeopardy twice for the
same offense.")- Furthermore, considering the petition
can be appropriate to clarify an important issue of law.
Smith v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 113 Nev. 1343,
1345, 950 P.2d 280, 281 (1997).
Sweat asserts that the district court erred by denying his
motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds. Sweat has
another remedy because he could raise the double jeopardy
issue on appeal from a judgment of conviction. See
NRS 177.015; NRS 177.045. However, that remedy is not
adequate to protect the right afforded by the Double Jeopardy
Clause-to not be placed twice in jeopardy. Furthermore,
Sweat's petition raises an important issue of law that
needs clarification- whether a defendant's conviction on
a lesser misdemeanor offense in the justice court, as part of
a plea agreement with the State, precludes prosecution on a