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State v. Gomez

Court of Appeals of Idaho

March 17, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
HARLEY GOMEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

         2017 Opinion No. 21 Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Melissa Moody, District Judge.

         Order denying motion to dismiss, reversed and case remanded.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Brian R. Dickson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; John C. McKinney, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GRATTON, Chief Judge

         Harley Gomez appeals from the district court's order denying his motion to dismiss. We reverse the order and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Gomez pled guilty to felony grand theft, Idaho Code §§ 18-2403(1), 18-2407(1)(b). The district court withheld judgment and placed Gomez on probation for five years. One of the terms of Gomez's probation was that he "shall be a law-abiding citizen and shall commit no misdemeanors or felonies."

         During the probationary period, Gomez pled guilty to misdemeanor disturbing the peace, I.C. § 18-6409, in another county. The prosecutor was not advised of the disturbing the peace conviction and, therefore, did not file a probation violation charge in the present case. After the probationary period expired, Gomez filed a motion to dismiss the withheld judgment, pursuant to I.C. § 19-2604(1), stating: "The probationary period has expired, and the terms and conditions of probation imposed by the Court have been fulfilled." The State objected, pointing out Gomez's misdemeanor conviction. The district court denied Gomez's motion to dismiss "[f]or the reasons set forth in the State's objection." Gomez timely appeals.

         II.

         ANALYSIS

         Gomez asserts the district court did not properly apply the plain language of I.C. § 19-2604(1). This Court exercises free review over the application and construction of statutes. State v. Reyes, 139 Idaho 502, 505, 80 P.3d 1103, 1106 (Ct. App. 2003). Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, this Court must give effect to the statute as written, without engaging in statutory construction. State v. Burnight, 132 Idaho 654, 659, 978 P.2d 214, 219 (1999); State v. Escobar, 134 Idaho 387, 389, 3 P.3d 65, 67 (Ct. App. 2000). The language of the statute is to be given its plain, obvious, and rational meaning. Burnight, 132 Idaho at 659, 978 P.2d at 219. If the language is clear and unambiguous, there is no occasion for the court to resort to legislative history or rules of statutory interpretation. Escobar, 134 Idaho at 389, 3 P.3d at 67. When this Court must engage in statutory construction because an ambiguity exists, it has the duty to ascertain the legislative intent and give effect to that intent. State v. Beard, 135 Idaho 641, 646, 22 P.3d 116, 121 (Ct. App. 2001). To ascertain such intent, not only must the literal words of the statute be examined, but also the context of those words, the public policy behind the statute, and its legislative history. Id. It is incumbent upon a court to give an ambiguous statute an interpretation which will not render it a nullity. Id. Constructions of an ambiguous statute that would lead to an absurd result ...


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