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State v. Colvin

Court of Appeals of Idaho

July 26, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
THOMAS CRUZ COLVIN, Defendant-Appellant.

         2017 Opinion No. 40

         Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bannock County. Hon. David C. Nye, District Judge.

         Order denying motion to dismiss, affirmed.

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

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kale D. Gans, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GRATTON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Thomas Cruz Colvin appeals from the district court's order denying his motion to dismiss.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Colvin was issued a citation for misdemeanor domestic battery, Idaho Code § 18-918(3)(b). The police report noted the victim, his girlfriend at the time, had blood on her clothes, face, and arms, and her eye was swollen shut. The State filed a motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charge, which was granted. The State subsequently filed a new complaint charging Colvin with felony domestic battery, I.C. § 18-918(2)(a), alleging he inflicted traumatic injury upon the victim.

         Colvin moved to dismiss the felony charge, asserting it was barred by I.C. § 19-3506 because it was for the same offense as the previously dismissed charge. The State argued that felony and misdemeanor domestic violence charges are not the same offense and that I.C. § 19-3506 only bars the State from filing repeat misdemeanors, as opposed to felonies, arising from the same events. The district court concluded the charges for misdemeanor and felony domestic battery are the same offense when applying the test as set forth in Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299 (1932), but denied Colvin's motion to dismiss based on its holding that I.C. § 19-3506 only bars prosecution for the same offense if the subsequent charge is a misdemeanor.

         Colvin entered a conditional guilty plea, in which he reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss. The district court imposed a withheld judgment for a probation term of four years. Colvin timely appeals.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The statute at issue in this case is I.C. § 19-3506, which states: "An order for the dismissal of the action, as provided in this chapter, is a bar to any other prosecution for the same offense, if it is a misdemeanor; but it is not a bar if the offense is a felony." I.C. § 19-3506 (emphasis added). The first issue is whether the misdemeanor domestic battery charge is for the same offense as the subsequent felony domestic battery charge for the purpose of applying I.C. § 19-3506. Colvin argues both charges are the same offense while the State asserts they are not. The second issue is whether "it" (italicized above) refers to the action that was dismissed or the newly filed action. In order for Colvin's subsequent charge for felony domestic battery to be barred pursuant to the statute, he must show that the charges were for the same offense and that this Court must conclude on the second issue that the statute bars subsequent felony charges when the original charge is a misdemeanor.

         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 ...


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