from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Latah County. John R. Stegner, District
order of dismissal entered by the District Court is reversed
and this case is remanded with instructions.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney
for Appellant. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.
Barker, Moscow, attorneys for Respondent. Andrea S. Hunter
Nature of the Case
appeal concerns the interpretation of Idaho Code section
37-2732. The State charged Daniel C. Amstad with violating
section 37-2732 for "being present at or on premises of
any place where he knows illegal controlled substances are
being manufactured or cultivated, or are being held . . .
." Amstad moved to dismiss on the basis that he was in a
vehicle, so his conduct did not fall within the statute. The
magistrate court granted the motion and dismissed the case.
The State appealed and the district court affirmed, holding
that "premises" and "place" under section
37-2732 do not include a parked vehicle. We reverse and
remand with instructions.
Factual and Procedural Background
January 20, 2017, an officer noticed a vehicle with foggy
windows in the parking lot near the Wallace Complex on the
campus of the University of Idaho. As the officer approached
the vehicle he smelled marijuana. The officer knocked on the
passenger door, which Amstad opened, revealing a baggie
containing what the officer believed to be marijuana on the
driver's lap. The State charged Amstad under Idaho Code
section 37-2732 with frequenting a place where drugs were
being held for use. On March 28, 2017, Amstad moved to
dismiss arguing that a person cannot "frequent" a
vehicle. The State responded and argued Amstad was at a
"place" where drugs were being used. The magistrate
court granted Amstad's motion and dismissed the case.
State appealed, asserting that the magistrate court erred by
holding that a parking lot belonging to the University of
Idaho was not a "premises of any place" under Idaho
Code section 37-2732(d). On December 1, 2017, the district
court issued its memorandum opinion on appeal. At the outset,
the district court challenged what it called the State's
attempt to reframe the issue to analyze a parking lot versus
a vehicle; instead, the district stated it would only analyze
the issue as it was presented to the magistrate court, i.e.,
"whether a person can be 'present at or on the
premises of any place' if they [sic] are in a
vehicle." The district court later held that it was
clear that the definitions of "premises" or
"place" do not include a car. The State timely
Issue on Appeal
the district court erred when it concluded that a vehicle is
not within the scope of Idaho Code section 37-2732(d).
Standard of Review
Court exercises free review over statutory interpretation
because it presents a question of law. State v.
Owens, 158 Idaho 1, 3, 343 P.3d 30, 32 (2015). On review
of a decision rendered by a district court in its
intermediate appellate capacity, the reviewing court
"directly review[s] the district court's decision to
determine whether it correctly decided the ...