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State v. Ostler

Supreme Court of Idaho

November 2, 2016

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
SCOTT LEWIS OSTLER, Defendant-Appellant.

         2016 Opinion No. 117

         Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bear Lake County. Hon. Stephen S. Dunn, District Judge.

         The district court's judgment of conviction is affirmed.

          Eric Fredericksen, Interim State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Jason Pintler argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Russell Spencer argued.

          HORTON, Justice.

         Scott Ostler was convicted of three counts of lewd conduct with a minor child under sixteen ("lewd conduct"), a violation of Idaho Code section 18-1508, and one count of sexual abuse of a child under the age of sixteen ("sexual abuse"), a violation of Idaho Code section 18-1506. This appeal relates only to a single count of lewd conduct. Ostler claims that the State violated his right to due process by adding an additional lewd conduct charge following a mistrial. The Court of Appeals vacated Ostler's conviction for the additional felony, agreeing that the State violated Ostler's right to due process. We granted the State's petition for review. We affirm the judgment of conviction.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Ostler molested two younger half-sisters on a number of occasions over the course of several years. On December 17, 2013, a jury found him guilty of two counts of lewd conduct and one count of sexual abuse. Ostler was born in May of 1988. The lewd conduct charges related to acts that occurred "on or about and between 2000 and 2008." Thus, Ostler was as young as eleven during the time frame in which the crimes were alleged to have been committed.

         Before sentencing Ostler, the district court sua sponte requested that the parties submit briefs regarding the court's subject matter jurisdiction over conduct occurring before Ostler turned fourteen. At the time, Idaho Code section 18-216 provided that a person could not be tried or convicted of an offense if they were less than fourteen years of age at the time of the alleged crime.[1] The district court set aside the verdict, required the State to amend its information to remove allegations of criminal conduct occurring before Ostler turned fourteen, and ordered a new trial. During a January 31, 2014, hearing, Ostler's attorney suggested to the district court that the State's charges may be "substantially different enough" to warrant a preliminary hearing, but the district court disagreed.

         Following the hearing, the State filed an amended information which charged Ostler with three counts[2] of lewd conduct and one count of sexual abuse. The amended information excluded any conduct that occurred prior to Ostler turning fourteen. Apart from the earlier suggestion that a new preliminary hearing might be warranted, Ostler did not object to the amendment nor did he object to being retried.

         After a second trial, the jury found Ostler guilty of all four counts. On June 4, 2014, the district court entered judgment and sentenced Ostler to concurrent unified sentences of ten years, with three years fixed, and retained jurisdiction. Ostler timely appealed.

         Before the Court of Appeals, Ostler argued that the State violated Ostler's right to due process when the State added the third lewd conduct charge following the mistrial. The Court of Appeals agreed and vacated Ostler's conviction for the additional charge. We granted the State's petition for review.

         II.STANDARD OF ...


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