ST PETER —
Fischer said Tuesday she was made aware of Schneider’s situation by election auditors. It was her intention from the beginning to offer Schneider a way to keep the charge from being on her criminal record.
The law, the way Fischer interprets it, doesn’t give prosecutors any discretion for filing charges, she said. But it doesn’t place any restriction on how she decides to resolve a case, either.
“That’s what we used here was prosecutorial discretion in resolving cases,” Fischer said. “It’s the resolution we intended.”
Fischer also pointed out as the county attorney she could have been charged with a misdemeanor and forced out of office if she didn’t file charges, according to 201.275.
Questions of intent
The statute that was cited for Schneider’s case was 204C.14(b). That statute says “No individual shall intentionally vote more than once at the same election.”
Schneider’s case drew statewide attention, which prompted some attorneys to question whether she should have been charged when her actions weren’t intentional. Sandland’s report said he told her he didn’t believe her actions were intentional, according to the criminal complaint.
The word “intentional” has two interpretations when it is applied to criminal law, Fischer said. She said the statute used to charge Schneider could be interpreted as a “general intent” crime.
Using an assault as an example, Fischer said someone can show “general intent” to assault someone simply by taking a swing. That person doesn’t have to have any intention of causing harm to be charged with a crime. Sandland’s investigation showed Schneider intended to vote even though she didn’t intend to cast an illegal vote, Fischer said.
Specific intent is more restrictive. Crimes that require specific intent require prosecutors to show that someone did something with the intention of committing a crime. Either way, there was enough probable cause to meet the requirements for charging someone, Fischer said.