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State v. Coniconde

Court of Appeals of Idaho

October 8, 2019

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL WATSON CONICONDE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Lansing L. Haynes, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction and concurrent, unified sentences of five years, with two years determinate, for felony fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer in violation of and felony placing obstructions on railroad tracks, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Andrea W. Reynolds, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          HUSKEY, JUDGE

         Michael Watson Coniconde appeals from the district court's judgment of conviction. Coniconde asserts the district court erred in ordering his driver's license suspension commence upon release from incarceration because Idaho Code § 49-1404(3) mandates that driver's license suspensions for felony eluding offenses begin upon judgment of conviction. The State argues that I.C. § 49-1404(3) is silent as to when the period for suspension begins, but I.C. § 49-326A requires driver's license suspensions commence upon release from incarceration. We affirm the district court's judgment of conviction.

         Idaho Code § 49-1404(3) is silent on whether the driver's license suspension begins to run from the date of the judgment of conviction or the date of release from incarceration. We conclude that the date upon which the period of suspension begins is discretionary with the district court. Because the district court acted within its discretion when it ordered Coniconde's driver's license suspension commence upon release from incarceration, we affirm.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Pursuant to an Idaho Criminal Rule 11 plea agreement, Coniconde pleaded guilty to fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer in violation of I.C. § 49-1404(2) and placing obstructions on railroad tracks in violation of I.C. § 18-6009, both felonies. The plea agreement did not include any terms related to the length or period of commencement of the driver's license suspension. The district court imposed concurrent, unified sentences of five years, with two years determinate, for each charge. The district court suspended Coniconde's driver's license for three years and ordered it commence upon his release from incarceration, for the felony eluding charge.

         Coniconde filed a timely notice of appeal contesting the driver's license suspension and a motion for reconsideration of sentence, pursuant to Idaho Criminal Rule 35, asking the district court to shorten the length of the suspension and order it to begin upon his conviction for the eluding offense. Pursuant to I.C.R. 35, the district court found that Coniconde's behavior during incarceration warranted a reduction in the duration of the driver's license suspension from three years to eighteen months. The district court indicated that I.C. § 49-1404 provided judicial discretion to determine when a suspension should begin. Based on circumstances surrounding the offenses and Coniconde's driving history, the district court found that Coniconde demonstrated a disregard for public safety that warranted commencing the driver's license suspension upon Coniconde's release from incarceration, rather than from the judgment of conviction. The district court further stated that to allow Coniconde to serve the driver's license suspension while incarcerated would act neither as punishment nor deterrence, as Coniconde cannot drive while incarcerated.[1] Therefore, the district court denied Coniconde's request to modify the date for the driver's license suspension to begin.

         II.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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 ...


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