Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Nastoff case brief

State v. Nastoff case brief summary
862 P.2d 1089 (1993)

Defendant sought review of an order of the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District (Idaho), which denied his motion for acquittal on a charge of malicious injury to property.

The state's theory at trial was that defendant's operation of a chainsaw resulted in emission of carbon, which smoldered for two days before igniting the fire. Defendant challenged the order that withheld judgment on a jury's finding him guilty of felony malicious injury to property. The issue before the court was whether the intent to do a wrongful act that was required to establish malice for purposes of criminal liability under Idaho Code § 18-7001 must be an intent to injure or destroy property.

  • On appeal, the court answered the question affirmatively and reversed. 
  • The court found that by its plain language, § 18-7001 created culpability for malicious injury to property only where the defendant's conduct causing the injury was accompanied by an intent to injure property of another. 
  • The court noted that defendant may have been negligent in operating the chainsaw and that his negligence may have caused the fire. 
  • However, the court concluded that the legislature did not intend to punish merely negligent conduct.

The court reversed the denial of defendant's motion for acquittal on the charge against him of malicious injury to property.

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