Submitted April 9, 2015
9th Circuit Court -- Nashua District Division.
Joseph A. Foster, attorney general ( Stacey R. Kaelin, assistant attorney general, on the brief), for the State.
Bookman & Al-Marayati, of Melrose, Massachusetts ( Ghazi D. Al-Marayati on the brief), for the defendant.
LYNN, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and HICKS, CONBOY, and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.
The defendant, Louise E. Pinault, appeals her conviction, following a bench trial before the Circuit Court ( Bamberger, J.), on one misdemeanor count of conduct after an accident, see RSA 264:25, I (2014), and the trial court's order that she pay restitution for property damage, see RSA 651:63, I (2007). We affirm in part and reverse in part.
The record supports the following facts. On August 27, 2013, the defendant was involved in two motor vehicle accidents in Hollis. She was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and with violating the " conduct after an accident" statute. See RSA 265-A:2, I(a) (2014); RSA 264:25, I. One witness saw a " big puff of dirt as if an impact had happened" on the side of the road and saw a gold sedan " careen back onto the roadway" and continue driving. The witness noticed some debris, which he later identified as broken mailboxes. That witness called 911 to report the first accident and gave the vehicle's license plate number. A second witness later saw a " silverish" sedan drive off the road and into a wooded area. This witness instructed another person to call 911 while the witness assisted the driver, whom he identified as the defendant. A police officer dispatched to both calls identified the defendant as the driver at the second accident and testified that the license plate number of the vehicle matched the plate number reported in the first 911 call. The officer later returned to the scene of the first accident and observed two damaged mailboxes and tire tracks leading off, and then back onto, the road.
Following a bench trial, during which the defendant represented herself, she was acquitted on the DUI charge, but was convicted on the conduct after an accident charge. As part of her sentence, she was ordered to pay $525 in restitution for the damage to the mailboxes. The defendant moved for reconsideration, arguing that the complaint alleging conduct after an accident was insufficient and that the restitution order was improper. The trial court denied the motion and this appeal followed.
The defendant first argues that the trial court improperly ordered restitution because the only offense for which she was convicted did not cause any economic loss. The defendant contends that the damage to the mailboxes was caused before she left the scene of the accident and therefore cannot be a direct result of her criminal act. The State argues that restitution is proper because the property damage resulted from the factual allegations that support the conduct covered by the conviction. The State contends that, because the accident and property damage are necessary elements of the conviction for conduct after an accident, the damage logically resulted from her criminal act. The State also argues that ordering restitution in this case ...