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State of Idaho v. Raymond Gene Corbus

March 22, 2011


Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Elmore County. The Honorable Michael E. Wetherell, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Jones, Justice.

2011 Opinion No. 43

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The district court's restitution order is affirmed.

Raymond Gene Corbus appeals the district court's order of restitution. We affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On the night of May 7, 2006, police officers observed Corbus driving his vehicle at approximately 60 mph in a 35 mph zone. After Corbus drove past the officers, they entered their police vehicles and activated the overhead emergency lights. Corbus then accelerated and turned off the headlights on his vehicle. A chase ensued during which Corbus reached speeds in excess of 100 mph. When Corbus slowed to approximately 50 mph to make a turn, the passenger in his front seat jumped out of the vehicle and was knocked unconscious. Corbus continued driving another 300 yards before hitting a rock and coming to a stop. The passenger was transported to the hospital where he received medical treatment for the injuries he sustained after jumping from the vehicle.

Thereafter, Corbus was charged with felony eluding a peace officer, misdemeanor reckless driving, and misdemeanor driving without privileges. Corbus pleaded guilty to reckless driving at his arraignment and later entered a conditional plea of guilty*fn1 to eluding a peace officer pursuant to a plea agreement with the State. Among other things, the plea agreement provided that the State would dismiss the driving without privileges charge and would recommend restitution for the injuries that Corbus' passenger sustained. As part of Corbus' sentence, the district court ordered restitution in an amount to be determined at a restitution hearing. During the restitution proceedings, Corbus argued that he was not liable for restitution because his passenger's injuries were not a result of his criminal conduct but, rather, were a result of the passenger's independent choice to flee from the police to avoid being apprehended for violating his probation by consuming alcohol that evening. No evidence was submitted during the restitution proceedings regarding the passenger's motive for jumping from the vehicle. The district court ultimately ordered restitution in the amount of $18,203.67, finding a sufficient causal connection between Corbus' conduct and his passenger's injuries. The district court found that, [i]n the court's view, there is a sufficient causal connection between the conduct for which the defendant was convicted and the injuries [the victim] sustained. [The victim] was afraid because he was a passenger in the defendant's vehicle which he was driving at a high rate of speed with his headlights off on a road where other vehicles were located. It was not unreasonable for [the victim] to decide that he might be better off "bailing out" of the vehicle rather than risk more serious injuries in the event that the defendant wrecked the vehicle. There is no reason to believe that [the victim] would have left the defendant's vehicle, while it was moving, had the defendant not been engaged in criminal actions that constituted Felony Eluding and Reckless Driving.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's order of restitution, holding that, [a]lthough the prosecutor certainly could have done a better job of proving the passenger's status as a "victim" by presenting an affidavit from that individual explaining why he jumped from the vehicle, the facts before the district court were sufficient to support an inference that the passenger jumped from the car out of fear for his safety due to Corbus' criminal conduct of eluding.

State v. Corbus, No. 502, slip op., p. 3 (Ct. App. June 18, 2009).

Corbus then filed a petition for review with this Court. The petition for review was granted, but was stayed pending this Court's decision in State v. Lampien, 148 Idaho 367, 223 P.3d 750 (2009).*fn2 The Court issued its decision in Lampien on December 23, 2009, and this appeal was subsequently resumed.

II. Issue on Appeal

I. Whether the district court's conclusion that there is a causal connection between Corbus' criminal conduct and his passenger's injuries ...

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