50 P.3d 439 (Idaho 2002), 27824, State v. Maidwell

Docket Nº:27824.
Citation:50 P.3d 439, 137 Idaho 424
Opinion Judge:EISMANN, Justice.
Party Name:STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Frank MAIDWELL, Defendant-Respondent.
Attorney:Hon. Alan G. Lance, Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, argued. Wiebe & Fouser, Canyon County Public Defender, Caldwell, for respondent. Alexander B. Briggs, Deputy Public Defender, argued.
Judge Panel:EISMANN,
Case Date:May 31, 2002
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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Page 439

50 P.3d 439 (Idaho 2002)

137 Idaho 424

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Frank MAIDWELL, Defendant-Respondent.

No. 27824.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise.

May 31, 2002.

        Rehearing Denied July 19, 2002.

        Hon. Alan G. Lance, Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, argued.

        Wiebe & Fouser, Canyon County Public Defender, Caldwell, for respondent. Alexander B. Briggs, Deputy Public Defender, argued.

        EISMANN, Justice.

        This is an appeal challenging the dismissal of a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of wildlife on the ground that the statute of limitations had run. We reverse and remand this case for further proceedings.

Page 440

        I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

        In 1996, the defendant Frank Maidwell obtained a permit to hunt for antlerless elk, which is defined as either a cow elk or a bull elk with antlers less than six inches in length. On November 3, 1996, an officer from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game contacted Maidwell after receiving information that Maidwell had killed a fully-antlered bull elk. Maidwell told the officer that he had killed an elk on October 26, 1996, but had discarded the antlers. Maidwell showed the officer some of the meat in Maidwell's freezer. According to the officer, an elk with antlers less than six inches in length would be a calf about six months of age. The meat he observed in Maidwell's freezer appeared to come from a much larger elk. On November 4, 1996, the officer and Maidwell visited a meat packing plant, where the officer examined the legs of the elk killed by Maidwell. The officer seized bones from the leg of the elk and sent them to the United States Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab for testing. Approximately six months later, on May 3, 1997, the Department received back a lab report stating that the bones belonged to a bull elk that was between two and four years of age.

        In January 1998, the officer received information that Maidwell was still in possession of the antlers from the bull elk shot in October 1996. On January 23, 1998, pursuant to a search warrant, the officer searched Maidwell's garage and discovered a rack of elk antlers consisting of six points on one side and seven on the other. The officer seized the antlers.

        On December 17, 1998, the State charged Maidwell with the misdemeanor offense of unlawful possession of parts of wildlife in violation of Idaho Code § 36-502. He was summonsed into court, and initially represented himself. The case was set for a pretrial conference and a jury trial, but the trial was vacated when Maidwell failed to appear at the pretrial conference. He apparently failed to appear because of a medical condition. After the hearings on several pretrial motions, Maidwell requested and was appointed counsel.

         On June 9, 1999, Maidwell moved to dismiss the charge against him on the ground that prosecution for that charge was barred by the two-year statute of limitations provided in Idaho Code § 36-1406. That motion was heard on August 5, 1999. The magistrate judge found that Maidwell illegally took a bull elk on October 26, 1996, that within the following two years the State obtained sufficient information to charge Maidwell, and that the statute of limitations ran on October 26, 1998, without any charges being filed. Based upon this Court's decision in State v. Barnes, 124 Idaho 379, 859 P.2d 1387 (1993), the magistrate therefore dismissed the complaint. The State timely appealed the dismissal to the district court, which affirmed. The State again appealed, and the Court of Appeals initially heard the appeal. After concluding that this case could not be distinguished from State v. Barnes, the Court of Appeals also affirmed the dismissal. We then granted the State's petition for review. In cases that come before this Court on a petition for review of a Court of Appeals decision, this Court gives serious consideration to the views of the Court of Appeals, but directly reviews the decisions of the trial court. Humberger v. Humberger, 134 Idaho 39, 995 P.2d 809 (2000).

        II. ANALYSIS

         In 1990, the defendant in State v. Barnes, 124 Idaho 379, 859 P.2d 1387 (1993), was found in possession of a pickup truck that had been stolen in 1983. He may have been in possession of it since then, and in 1987 he had admitted to his sister that the pickup was "hot." In 1991 the State charged the defendant with grand theft by possession of stolen property.

        The defendant moved to dismiss the charge on the grounds that it was barred by the three-year statute...

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