from the District Court of Ward County, North Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Todd L. Cresap, Judge.
A. Miller, Assistant State's Attorney, Minot, N.D., for
plaintiff and appellee.
Russell J. Myhre, Valley City, N.D., for defendant and
1] Aaron Bruce appeals from a district court's amended
criminal judgment awarding restitution. We conclude the
district court did not abuse its discretion by amending the
criminal judgment awarding restitution in the amount of $7,
157.20. We affirm.
2] In December 2015, the State charged Bruce with unlawful
manufacturing, delivering, or possession with intent to
deliver heroin; manslaughter; tampering in a criminal
investigation; ingestion of a controlled substance; and theft
of property. The charges arose from an incident in July 2015.
In March 2017, pursuant to an agreement, the State amended
the manslaughter charge to negligent homicide, and dismissed
three of the charges. Bruce pled guilty to negligent homicide
and manufacturing, delivering, or possession with intent to
deliver heroin. The district court sentenced Bruce the same
day. The court left restitution open for 90 days.
3] On March 17, 2017, the State moved the district court for
restitution. In May 2017, the court held a restitution
hearing. The State requested $6, 165 for funeral expenses for
Aidan Vanderhoef, the victim of the negligent homicide
charge, $500 for a cell phone that was allegedly stolen from
Vanderhoef, and $492.20 for his father's transportation
costs to and from the court proceedings. The court ordered
Bruce to pay restitution in the amount of $7, 157.20. Bruce
appeals from the amended criminal judgment ordering him to
4] Bruce argues the district court abused its discretion in
ordering restitution for funeral expenses, a cell phone, and
transportation costs to and from the court proceedings for
Vanderhoef's father. Bruce also argues the district court
abused its discretion when ordering restitution without
considering his ability to pay.
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. "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."
State v. Carson, 2017 ND 196, ¶ 5, 900 N.W.2d
41 (citation omitted).
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." 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."
Carson, at ¶ 6 (citations omitted). "The
court shall fix the amount of restitution or reparation,
which may not exceed an amount the defendant can or will be
able to pay." N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-08(1). "The
district court may order restitution as part of a criminal
defendant's sentence after a hearing on the matter."