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State v. Hedgcock

Court of Appeals of Utah

May 31, 2019

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Lee Evan Hedgcock, Appellant.

          Third District Court, West Jordan Department The Honorable L. Douglas Hogan No. 161400207

          Andrea J. Garland, Attorney for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Jonathan S. Bauer, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge David N. Mortensen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Ryan M. Harris concurred.

          OPINION

          MORTENSEN, JUDGE.

         ¶1 Instead of paying $701 per month in child support for the relevant five years (totaling $51, 883 with interest) as stipulated and adopted in a divorce decree, Defendant Lee Evan Hedgcock paid $780 total. He was charged with and pled no contest to a single count of criminal nonsupport. Hedgcock now challenges the district court's restitution determination. Because we agree that the district court did not make separate findings as to complete restitution and court-ordered restitution as required by statute and precedent, we vacate the restitution determination and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Further, Hedgcock challenges the district court's refusal to reduce complete restitution by amounts Hedgcock claims he would not have owed had he filed a petition to modify the divorce decree in the intervening years. We affirm the district court on this point of law.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Following his divorce, Hedgcock was ordered to pay $701 per month in child support (Decree). The child support amount was based on an imputed wage that was allegedly more than Hedgcock's actual wage. Hedgcock, however, stipulated to the higher imputed wage and child support amount. The Decree provided that "[t]he current Child Support amount shall remain in effect unless modified by [the Office of Recovery Services (ORS)]" and that "each party to this action may request that [ORS] review the Court's child support order for this action to determine whether a modification of the Court ordered child support be pursued." ORS was also joined as a party to the divorce action to clarify and determine Hedgcock's child support obligations moving forward. Although ORS appeared, it did not seek to modify the child support as ordered in the Decree.

         ¶3 In December 2014, Hedgcock moved the divorce court to "address the issue of his child support." A commissioner declined to set a hearing on the motion but outlined the correct procedure for pursuing an adjustment of child support in a minute entry. The minute entry noted that Hedgcock could seek an adjustment by filing a petition to modify and a financial declaration pursuant to rules 101 and 106 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. Hedgcock did not object to the minute entry and never filed a petition to modify.

         ¶4 In January 2016, Hedgcock was charged with criminal nonsupport based on an alleged total arrearage, with interest, of $61, 310. In other words, from the time the Decree was entered in 2011, to the time he was charged in January 2016 (Charged Period), Hedgcock paid a total of $780 in child support-rather than the $701 per month ordered in the Decree.

         ¶5 At a preliminary hearing, Hedgcock argued that the total arrearage for the Charged Period was incorrect because ORS should have modified the child support amount when it was joined as a party. But a representative for ORS testified that despite being joined as a party, it typically "would not . . . modify a child support order unless [it had] a written request from one of the parties to do so." And although ORS received written requests from Hedgcock, "the determination was made . . . not to proceed with a modification review because [Hedgcock's] circumstances had not changed from the date that the initial order had been stipulated to." Hedgcock did not petition the divorce court to review ORS's determination.

         ¶6 The State filed a motion in limine seeking to exclude from trial-among other things-evidence that Hedgcock disagreed with the amount of child support ordered in the Decree. The district court granted the motion, concluding that Hedgcock's "disagreement with the amount of child support he has been ordered to pay is not a relevant issue in this case, and therefore any argument regarding this matter is inadmissible." The court further explained that the Decree is a final order and the only way that Hedgcock's arguments would be relevant is if he had filed a petition to modify in the divorce proceeding. But the court noted, "[T]hat's not what's happened. That's not the facts that are before this court. The facts before this court are there's an order for $701, and that's the existing order [the State is] claiming criminal nonsupport on."

         ¶7 Hedgcock pled no contest to a single count of criminal nonsupport in return for the State's recommendation of no jail time and a 402 reduction "upon successful completion of payment of restitution."[1] At sentencing, Hedgcock requested a restitution hearing, "not necessarily to question the amounts . . . but because he would like the Court to consider some of the same things . . . discussed when arguing the motion in limine as toward restitution." The court responded that the criminal proceeding was "not the appropriate place" to challenge the Decree. And because there was no pending petition to modify the Decree, the court clarified that the only permissible arguments at the restitution hearing would be to establish the amounts that Hedgcock already paid against the existing arrearage. After a brief recess, Hedgcock entered his no-contest plea, [2] and requested to be sentenced immediately without a pre-sentencing report (PSR) or review of his financial declaration.

         ¶8 The district court held a restitution hearing in December 2016. At the outset, Hedgcock renewed his objection to the amount owed during the Charged Period. The court responded that, absent a pending petition to modify the Decree, Hedgcock's past-due child support obligation was a fixed amount and "there's no possibility this order is going to be anything different than what it is." Hedgcock then submitted to the court that the parties had reached a stipulation on the amount of arrearage based on the operative Decree-which was determined to be $51, 833. The court asked the parties if there was anything else that needed to be taken care of at the hearing, and Hedgcock's counsel replied, "I don't believe so." Specifically, Hedgcock did not ask the district court to ...


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