BURDICK, Chief Justice.
Thomas Kelley appeals the Ada County district court's award of restitution entered under Idaho Code section 37-2732(k). The Idaho Court of Appeals vacated the restitution award on evidentiary grounds. We granted the State's timely petition for review, and we now affirm the district court's award of restitution.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In June 2013, the State charged Kelley with trafficking marijuana. He initially pleaded
In November 2014, the district court sentenced Kelley to eight years imprisonment, with a minimum one-year confinement followed by five years indeterminate. On February 6, 2015, the district court held a restitution hearing, where the State sought to recoup its prosecution costs under Idaho Code section 37-2732(k). To that end, the State submitted a written, but unsworn, statement as evidence of its prosecution costs. At the hearing, the district court granted Kelley's request for further time to review the State's evidence, and additional arguments were held on February 20, 2015 and March 5, 2015. The State initially requested $3,584.50 in restitution, which reflects 25.5 hours of work billed at $140 per hour, and 0.1 hours billed at $145 per hour. However, at the March 5, 2015 hearing, the State provided a "more precise accounting" and requested $7,328.50, which reflects 42.3 hours of work billed at $140 per hour, and 9.7 hours of work billed at $145 per hour. Kelley objected that the State's award would (1) violate due process; (2) punish him for exercising his Sixth Amendment rights to stand trial and present a defense; (3) violate equal protection; and (4) be unreasonable and excessive.
Although the district court rejected Kelley's constitutional arguments, it found the State's request excessive. The district court reasoned that the State's (1) increased request reflecting additional hours was not supported by evidence; and (2) requested hourly rate ($140/$145) was excessive. Ultimately, the district court concluded the State was entitled to $2,640, which reflects 35.2 hours of work billed at $75 per hour.
Kelley appealed, and the Court of Appeals vacated the award and remanded. On appeal, Kelley raised constitutional arguments and contended the district court abused its discretion by failing to consider his financial circumstances. The Court of Appeals, however, did not address those arguments. Instead, it held that insufficient evidence supported the award because it was based only on the State's unsworn representations. We granted the State's timely petition for review.
II. ISSUES ON APPEAL
1. Is Idaho Code section 37-2732(k) constitutional under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution?
2. Did the district court abuse its discretion by failing to consider Kelley's financial ability to repay the restitution award?
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
When addressing a petition for review, this Court will give "serious consideration to the views of the Court of Appeals, but directly reviews the decision of the lower court." State v. Schall, 157 Idaho 488, 491, 337 P.3d 647, 650 (2014).
This appeal brings to light Idaho Code section 37-2732(k). That statute permits the State to recoup its prosecution costs as restitution, providing as follows:
I.C. § 37-2732(k). The two main issues we address are whether: (A) section 37-2732(k) is constitutional under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution; and (B) the district court abused its discretion by failing to consider Kelley's financial ability to repay the restitution award.
A. Idaho Code section 37-2732(k) is constitutional under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Constitutional questions are reviewed de novo. State v. Draper, 151 Idaho 576, 598, 261 P.3d 853, 875 (2011). When a party challenges a statute on constitutional grounds, it "bears the burden of establishing that the statute is unconstitutional and must overcome a strong presumption of validity. Appellate courts are obligated to seek an interpretation of a statute that upholds its constitutionality." State v. Manzanares, 152 Idaho 410, 418, 272 P.3d 382, 390 (2012) (quoting State v. Korsen, 138 Idaho 706, 711, 69 P.3d 126, 131 (2003)).
Kelley's constitutional challenges arise exclusively under the U.S. Constitution, implicating the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Section 37-2732(k) does not violate Sixth Amendment rights to stand trial and present a defense.
First, Kelley argues section 37-2732(k) impermissibly chills Sixth Amendment rights to stand trial and present a defense by punishing defendants who exercise these rights. Kelly relies on United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570, 584-86, 88 S.Ct. 1209, 1217-19, 20 L.Ed.2d 138, 148-50 (1968), where the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a statute authorizing the death penalty only if the defendant stood trial and the "verdict of the jury shall so recommend." Thus, standing trial triggered the possibility of being sentenced to death. Id. The statute sought to limit "the death penalty to cases in which a jury recommends it...." Id. at 582, 88 S.Ct. at 1217, 20 L.Ed.2d at 147. The Government contended "because the [statute] thus operates `to mitigate the severity of punishment,' it is irrelevant that it `may have the incidental effect of inducing defendants not to contest in full measure.'" Id. The Court rejected that argument. Id. Instead, even though the statute's purpose was "entirely legitimate," the Court held that the statute "needlessly penalize[d] the assertion of a constitutional right." Id. at 583, 88 S.Ct. at 1217, 20 L.Ed.2d at 147-48. Because other means could have been used to achieve the statute's purpose,
Further, Jackson itself does not suggest section 37-2732(k) is unconstitutional. As the State explains, unlike Jackson, section 37-2732(k) is "not premised upon whether the defendant exercises his right to a jury trial. That costs may be more, and therefore the restitution award greater, if the defendant proceeds to trial does not mean the statute impermissibly chills the exercise of the right to a jury trial." The State finds support from other jurisdictions. Ohree v. Commonwealth, 26 Va.App. 299, 494 S.E.2d 484, 488 (1998) ("[T]he imposition of the cost of providing a jury does not impose an excessive or unnecessary burden upon the exercise of the right of a jury trial under the United States Constitution."); Commonwealth v. Hower, 267 Pa.Super. 182, 406 A.2d 754, 757 (1979) ("We acknowledge that the possibility that a convicted defendant may be required to pay the costs of prosecution may impose some burden on ... whether to go to trial.... Nevertheless, not every burden imposed by the state on a defendant's right to trial is constitutionally prohibited.").
Federal law lends further support to the State's position. The State cites us to United States v. Chavez, 627 F.2d 953, 955-57 (9th Cir. 1980), where the Ninth Circuit addressed the constitutionality of 26 U.S.C. § 7203, which provides that any person guilty of the relevant tax crime "shall be fined ... the costs of prosecution." The Chavez defendant argued section 7203 impermissibly chilled several constitutional rights, including his right to stand trial. Id. at 955. The Ninth Circuit in Chavez rejected that argument, instead holding that the statute furthered legitimate government ends of recovering prosecution costs and did not "needlessly encourage the waiver of constitutional rights." Id. at 957; accord United States v. Palmer, 809 F.2d 1504, 1507-08 (11th Cir. 1987) (holding that section 7203 achieved "legitimate governmental ends" of recovering prosecution costs without "needlessly chilling the exercise of constitutional rights").
Two more federal statutes like section 37-2732(k) include: (1) 28 U.S.C. § 1918(b), which provides that "[w]henever any conviction for any offense not capital is obtained in a district court, the court may order that the defendant pay the costs of prosecution"; and (2) 21 U.S.C. § 844(a), which provides that "upon conviction, a person who violates this subsection shall be fined the reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution of the offense...." Both statutes have been declared constitutional. E.g., United States v. Glover, 588 F.2d 876, 879 (2d Cir. 1978) (holding that section 1918(b) does "not impinge upon the right to stand trial but simply `depriv[es] a financially able defendant of available funds which, in fairness, should be remitted to the public coffers'" (citation omitted)); United States v. Escobar, Crim. No. 87-0074-M, 1987 WL 31141, *6 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 1987) (holding that section 844(a) did not impermissibly chill the defendant's right to stand trial because section 844(a) permits the government to recoup "the costs of investigating and prosecuting," which is a "clear and legitimate government interest").
Section 37-2732(k) does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's right to equal protection.
Second, Kelley argues section 37-2732(k) violates the Fourteenth Amendment's right to equal protection by impermissibly burdening defendants with debts they cannot repay. Equal protection inquiries require a "three-step analysis: the reviewing court must first, identify the classification that is being challenged; second, determine the standard under which the classification will be judicially reviewed; and third, decide whether the appropriate standard has been satisfied." In re Bermudes, 141 Idaho 157, 160, 106 P.3d 1123, 1126 (2005).
We note first that Kelley does not clearly identify what particular classification is at issue. For that reason, the district court rejected Kelley's equal protection argument and noted that Kelley "has not identified a discriminatory classification at issue." Cf. McLean v. Maverik Country Stores, Inc., 142 Idaho 810, 813, 135 P.3d 756, 759 (2006) ("The first step in an equal protection analysis is to identify the classification at issue."). Even so, because Kelley argues "burden[ing] an individual with a debt he cannot repay" violates equal protection, the State appears to assume indigence is the classification at issue. Kelley relies primarily on two U.S. Supreme Court cases to make the argument. The first is James v. Strange, 407 U.S. 128, 136-42, 92 S.Ct. 2027, 2032-35, 32 L.Ed.2d 600, 607-11 (1972), where the Court found equal protection violations by statutorily stripping defendants of debtor exemptions merely because the defendants owed public defender reimbursements. The second is Rinaldi v. Yeager, 384 U.S. 305, 306-10, 86 S.Ct. 1497, 1498-1500, 16 L.Ed.2d 577, 578-81 (1966), where the Court found equal protection violations by statutorily requiring indigent defendants to pay for the costs of providing transcripts on appeal only if they were confined in state institutions. As Rinaldi explained:
Id. at 309, 86 S.Ct. at 1499-1500, 16 L.Ed.2d at 580-81.
Kelley's equal protection argument is unavailing. Unlike James and Rinaldi, section 37-2732(k) does not distinguish among defendants on any ground. Section 37-2732(k), by its plain terms, treats equally all defendants who are convicted. We hold that section 37-2732(k) does not violate Kelley's right to equal protection of the law.
B. The district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to consider Kelley's financial ability to repay the restitution award.
By its plain terms, restitution under section 37-2732(k) is discretionary, as it states that "the court may order restitution[.]" To determine whether the district court abused its discretion, we evaluate whether the district court: (1) correctly perceived the issue as one of discretion; (2) acted within the outer boundaries of its discretion and consistently with relevant legal standards; and (3) reached its decision by an exercise of reason. Swallow v. Emergency Med. of Idaho, P.A., 138 Idaho 589, 592, 67 P.3d 68, 71 (2003).
Kelley asserts that the district court abused its discretion by failing to consider his financial ability to repay the restitution award. As Kelley elaborates, the district court "did not engage in any discussion as to how [Kelley's] economic position affected the amount [the district court] ordered, if at all." Kelley maintains that he argued "his regular occupation was that of a bar tender, [sic] with no prospects for future employment, and that he would be incarcerated due to this
We are not persuaded. This Court has previously recognized that the general restitution statute, Idaho Code section 19-5304, can be instructive when awarding restitution under section 37-2732(k). See State v. Gomez, 153 Idaho 253, 258, 281 P.3d 90, 95 (2012). Specifically, section 19-5304(7) provides several factors for consideration, which may be relevant when awarding restitution under section 37-2732(k), depending on the particular case. See State v. Harer, 160 Idaho 98, 101, 369 P.3d 316, 319 (Ct. App. 2016). Section 19-5304(7) provides:
Here, the district court recognized that, based on Kelley's financial circumstances arguments, section 19-5304(7) was relevant. Indeed, in its written order, the district court quoted section 19-5304(7) in full and even underlined its instruction that the "
Consequently, we conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding restitution despite Kelley's financial circumstances.
We affirm the district court's award of restitution under Idaho Code section 37-2732(k).
Justices, EISMANN, W. JONES, HORTON and J. JONES, PRO TEM concur.