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State v. Weeks

Court of Appeals of Idaho

March 17, 2016

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
JESSE JAY WEEKS, Defendant-Appellant

         2016 Opinion No. 22

         Editorial Note:

         This decision is not final until exception of the 21 day petition for rehearing period. Pursuant to rule 118 of the Idaho Appellate Rules.

          Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Fred M. Gibler, District Judge.

          Judgment of conviction, affirmed.

         Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Brian R. Dickerson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

         Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Mark W. Olson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.


         HUSKEY, Judge

         Jesse Jay Weeks appeals from his judgment of conviction for burglary. Weeks alleges the district court did not properly instruct the jury on the elements of theft by disposing of stolen property. Weeks further argues because there was insufficient evidence for a probable cause finding, the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the information. Finally, he contends there was insufficient evidence at trial to support the conviction. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.



         The evidence presented at trial is as follows. Weeks lived part-time in a camp trailer outside a residence where his cousin lived with several roommates. Weeks' cousin testified that his roommates did not know Weeks was living on the premises or that he had access to the residence. Weeks also testified and the following facts were presented to the jury. Weeks went to the residence when none of the residents were home to retrieve laundry he had left in his cousin's room. Weeks was under the influence of prescription drugs, and while he was in the house he found and took an iPad 2 that belonged to one of the roommates. Weeks took the iPad 2 to a pawnshop and first attempted to obtain a loan on the device, but instead sold the iPad 2 to the pawnshop for $185. The owner of the iPad 2 reported the theft, and law enforcement identified Weeks as the person who sold the device to the pawnshop.

         Weeks was charged with burglary for entering the pawnshop with the intent to commit the crime of theft by disposing of stolen property.[1] Weeks sought to dismiss this charge at the preliminary hearing on the grounds that he could not be guilty of having stolen the iPad 2 and also guilty of disposing of the stolen property. The magistrate denied the motion and determined there was probable cause to support the burglary charge because Weeks entered the pawnshop with the intent to dispose of the stolen device in order to receive money. Weeks renewed this argument in a motion to dismiss before the district court and argued Idaho Criminal Jury Instruction 547 requires the State to prove the property was stolen by another, not stolen by the accused. The district court denied the motion and a subsequent motion for reconsideration, holding ICJI 547 was inconsistent with Idaho Code § 18-2403(4). The district court denied the motions based on its determination that I.C. § 18-2403(4) does not require a finding that the stolen property be stolen " by another" and that substantial evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing to support a probable cause finding that Weeks committed the burglary. Weeks argued the statute was ambiguous due to the inconsistency with ICJI 547. The district court determined I.C. § 18-2403(4) was unambiguous and that the court need not look at the legislative history of the 2001 amendment that eliminated the " by another" requirement for the disposition of stolen property offense. Over the objection of Weeks, at the conclusion of the trial, the district court provided the jury an instruction consistent with the language of I.C. § 18-2403(4). Weeks appeals the district court's jury instruction and the denial of his motion to dismiss, and challenges the sufficiency of the State's evidence.



         A. The Jury Instruction

         Throughout the case and on appeal, Weeks has vigorously argued that he could not be found guilty of burglary by entering the pawnshop with the intent to commit the crime of theft by disposing of stolen property. This assertion is grounded in an inconsistency between the language of I.C. § 18-2403(4) and ICJI 547. He argues the district court erred by improperly instructing the jury as to the State's burden to prove he intended to commit the crime of theft by disposing of stolen property.

          Whether the jury has been properly instructed is a question of law over which we exercise free review. State v. Severson, 147 Idaho 694, 710, 215 P.3d 414, 430 (2009). When reviewing jury instructions, we ask whether the instructions as a whole, and not individually, fairly and accurately reflect applicable law. State v. Bowman, 124 Idaho 936, 942, 866 P.2d 193, 199 (Ct.App. 1993).

          A trial court presiding over a criminal case must instruct the jury on all matters of law necessary for the jury's information. I.C. § 19-2132. In other words, a trial court must deliver instructions on the rules of law that are " material to the determination of the defendant's guilt or innocence." State v. Mack, 132 Idaho 480, 483, 974 P.2d 1109, 1112 (Ct.App. 1999). This necessarily includes instructions on the " nature and elements of the crime charged and the essential legal principles applicable to the evidence that has been admitted." State v. Gain, 140 Idaho 170, 172, 90 P.3d 920, 922 (Ct.App. 2004). Each party is entitled to request the delivery of specific instructions. However, such instructions will only be given if they are " correct and pertinent." I.C. § 19-2132. A proposed instruction is not " correct and pertinent" if it is: (1) an erroneous statement of the law; (2) adequately covered by other instructions; or (3) " not supported by the facts of the case." Severson, 147 Idaho at 710-11, 215 P.3d at 430-31 (quoting State v. Olsen, 103 Idaho 278, 285, 647 P.2d 734, 741 (1982)). Ordinarily the language employed by the legislature in defining a crime is deemed to be best suited for that purpose, and error cannot be predicated on its use in jury instructions. State v. Zichko, 129 Idaho 259, 264, 923 P.2d 966, 971 (1996).

         At issue in this case is a conflict between the language of a pattern jury instruction approved by the Idaho Supreme Court and I.C. § 18-2403(4). This Court has stated, " [t]he pattern ICJI instructions are presumptively correct. The Idaho Supreme Court approved the pattern jury instructions and has recommended that the trial courts use the instructions unless a different instruction would more adequately, accurately, or clearly state the law." State v. Reid, 151 Idaho 80, 85, 253 P.3d 754, 759 (Ct.App. 2011). In the Introduction and General Directions for Use of ICJI, the jury instruction committee, with the approval of the Supreme Court, instructs trial courts that " as the law in any respect becomes more refined or is ...

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