from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest
Judicial District, the Honorable Paul W. Jacobson, Judge.
K. Madden, Assistant State's Attorney, Williston, N.D.,
for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.
L. Nehring, Williston, N.D., for defendant and appellant;
submitted on brief.
1] Mearlyse Carson appeals a restitution order entered
following her guilty plea and conviction for possession of
stolen property. The district court ordered her to pay
restitution in the amount of $8, 072.84, which included
restitution for other items stolen or damaged during a
burglary for which she was not convicted. We reverse and
2] Carson was arrested while in possession of several items
stolen during a residential burglary two days before her
arrest. The items stolen during the burglary included four
rifles, ammunition, tools, two vehicles, and an enclosed
trailer. The vehicles and trailer were found the next day.
The trailer suffered extensive damage. Law enforcement
officers found Carson in possession of a reportedly-stolen
truck that she alleged she had borrowed from her
ex-boyfriend. At the time, she was transferring rifles,
ammunition, and tools from the truck to another vehicle. Law
enforcement searched the second vehicle and found the four
rifles, ammunition, and tools that had been stolen during the
burglary. The items found in Carson's possession were
returned to the victim and no claim of restitution was made
related to those items or their condition. Several other
stolen items were never recovered.
3] The State charged Carson with theft of property, alleging
an unauthorized taking of property under N.D.C.C. §
12.1-23-02(1) or possession of stolen property under N.D.C.C.
§ 12.1-23-02(3). The items alleged in the six counts
were four rifles, ammunition, and "DeWalt tools, a mag
lit [sic], and bolt cutter(s)." She pled guilty to each
of the six counts. The factual basis provided in support of
her guilty plea included Carson's acknowledgment that she
possessed the charged items and that they had been taken from
the burglary victim's residence. Carson did not admit to
participation in the burglary or taking the property. The
State sought restitution, and after an evidentiary hearing,
the district court ordered Carson to pay restitution in the
amount of $8, 072.84 for damages resulting from the burglary,
including the cost to replace other stolen items not
recovered and repair damage to the trailer. The district
court's order concluded "the record and the
inferences that may be drawn from it" established a
causal relationship between Carson's criminal conduct and
the following damages:
Items in Denali, Trailer, or Ford Explorer, or his
home/driveway (jack stands, floor jack, lawn chair
with canopy, stun gun, garage door remotes, tool kit,
brake controller, Denali registration and owner's
manual, nebulizer pump and accessories, tie down
straps, T-wrench and flat bar, back-up camera kit,
trailer hitch lock, Savage bolt action rifle w/scope,
Fees paid to retrieve Denali from City impound
Keys and remotes for Denali
Key and remote for 2002 Ford Explorer
Re-key household locks
Lawn chairs left on the scene
Damage to trailer
4] Carson appeals, asserting she should not have been
required to pay restitution resulting from the burglary when
she had been convicted only of possessing stolen property.
5] When reviewing a restitution order, we look to whether the
district court acted "within the limits set by statute,
" which is a standard similar to our abuse of discretion
standard. State v. Gill, 2004 ND 137, ¶ 5, 681
N.W.2d 832. "A district court abuses its discretion if
it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable
manner, if its decision is not the product of a rational
mental process leading to a reasoned determination, or if it
misinterprets or misapplies the law." Id.
6] In analyzing whether to order restitution, N.D.C.C. §
12.1-32-08(1)(a) requires the district court to consider the
"reasonable damages sustained by the victim." These
damages "are limited to those directly related to the
criminal offense and expenses actually incurred as a direct
result of the defendant's criminal action."
Id. This Court has interpreted "directly
related" and "direct result" in this section
as requiring "an immediate and intimate causal
connection between the criminal conduct and the damages or
expenses for which restitution is ordered." State v.
Pippin, 496 N.W.2d 50, 52 - 53 (N.D. 1993).
7] In Pippin, the State charged Joan Pippin with
possession of stolen property and charged her former husband
with multiple counts of burglary. Id. at 51. Both
pled guilty, and the district court ordered each of them to
pay restitution for the damages incurred by the burglary
victims. Id. at 52. Pippin appealed, arguing the
victims' damages were not "directly related" to
her crime of possession of stolen property and "their
expenses were not a 'direct result' of her commission
of that crime." Id. This Court agreed, stating,
"In pleading guilty, Joan admitted only that she
possessed certain items of property... and no other property.
There is ...