Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and reversed the judgment of the district court affirming the determination of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) that Appellant was required to register as a sex offender for life, holding that the DPS must accept an earlier court of appeals decision regarding the length of Appellant’s sex offender registration. In 2008, Appellant pled guilty to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. At his sentencing hearing, the district court informed Appellant that he was only required to register as a sex offender for ten years, when, in fact, Appellant was subject to lifetime registration. When Appellant was informed he was required to register for life, Appellant sought postconviction relief. In 2015, the court of appeals determined that Appellant was only required to register as a sex offender for ten years. The DPS declined to accept the court of appeals’ decision. On judicial review, the district court and court of appeals affirmed the DPS’s determination, concluding that they lacked the authority to determine the length of Appellant’s sex offender registration requirements. The Supreme Court remanded this case to the DPS, holding that the 2015 court of appeals’ decision had preclusive effect over the DPS’s determination. View "Barker v. Iowa Department of Public Safety" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of operating while intoxicated (OUI), second offense, holding that Defendant’s rights under Iowa Code 804.20 were not violated when a law enforcement officer denied Defendant’s request to call his wife until after sobriety testing occurred. Defendant was driving a motor vehicle when he was involved in an accident in the midst of a snowstorm. Because of the weather conditions, the law enforcement officer that responded to the scene transported Defendant to a protected location - the sally port of the nearby law enforcement center - for the completion of field sobriety testing. Before leaving the scene, Defendant asked to talk to his wife, but the request was denied. Defendant subsequently failed field sobriety tests. Defendant was later convicted of OUI. Defendant appealed, arguing that his rights were violated because he had been “restrained of his liberty” within the meaning of section 804.20 at the sally port. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s rights under section 804.20 were not violated when the officer refused to allow Defendant the opportunity to speak with his wife until after field sobriety testing had been completed at the sally port because the sally port was a location for testing, not a “place of detention” within the meaning of section 804.20. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to prison for a maximum of ten years for theft in the first degree, to be served consecutively with five years for theft in the second degree, holding that Defendant failed to preserve his due process claim for direct appeal and that this Court could not reach Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel due process claim on direct appeal for the reasons stated in State v. Gordon, __ N.W.2d __ (Iowa 2018), also decided today. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court violated his due process rights by using an Iowa Risk Revised assessment report (IRR) in sentencing. In the alternative, Defendant argued that the court abused its discretion by considering the IRR without understanding the contours of the IRR. Defendant further asserted an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The Supreme Court affirmed for the reasons set forth in Gordon. View "State v. Buesing" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals finding that there is no legislative authority supporting the use of the Iowa Risk Revised risk assessment tool (IRR) at sentencing and affirmed the decision of the district court, holding that the court’s use of the IRR in sentencing Defendant did not violate his due process rights. Defendant pled guilty to burglary in the second degree as part of a plea agreement. Defendant later violated the conditions of release and pled guilty to the additional charge of interference with official acts. The presentence investigation report stated that the interviewer completed an IRR, which recommended that Defendant be supervised at an intensive level. The district court sentenced Defendant to prison for an indeterminate term, not to exceed ten years plus ninety days in jail, to be served concurrently with the burglary sentence. The court of appeals vacated the sentence. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals and affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding (1) the court did not infringe on Defendant’s due process rights based on its use of the IRR at sentencing; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion by discussing an unproven or unprosecuted offense. View "State v. Guise" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals reversing Defendant’s sentence and affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that Defendant failed to preserve error on his due process claim and that the district court did not use an unproven or unprosecuted offense when it sentenced Defendant. Defendant pled guilty to third-degree sexual abuse. As part of the presentence investigation, Defendant underwent a psychosexual evaluation, resulting in a psychosexual assessment report. The district court ultimately sentenced Defendant to a prison term not to exceed ten years. The court of appeals reversed, holding the the legislature has not deemed sex offender risk assessment tools relevant in imposing prison sentences. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals and affirmed the district court’s sentence, holding (1) the district court did not violate Defendant’s due process rights by consideration of and reliance on the sex offender risk assessment tools in imposing its sentence; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by relying on an unproven or unprosecuted offense. View "State v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court ordering Defendant to pay restitution to the City of Davenport for damage to patrol vehicles after Defendant pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and eluding an officer, holding that a government entity may, under the right circumstances, be a victim under the Iowa criminal restitution statute, Iowa Code chapter 910, under this Court’s precedents. On appeal, Defendant conceded that the Davenport police vehicles incurred damage when police officers attempted to stop him during a high-speed chase but argued that damage to police cars from a chase of a fleeing suspect is not recoverable under Iowa’s restitution statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the causation standard in the Restatement (Third) of Torts, the damage to the police vehicles would be within the scope of liability in a negligence action against Defendant; (2) the firefighter’s rule has no application in this case; and (3) the express legislative adoption of limited restitution for emergency response costs in drunk driving cases under Iowa Code 910.1(4) does prevent a restitution to the City of Davenport in this case. View "State v. Shears" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed a $1900 fine-based restitution award ordered by the district court after Defendant pleaded guilty to theft of a student backpack as punitive and unsupported by substantial evidence, holding that the scope-of-liability analysis in sections 29 and 33 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Liability for Physical and Emotional Harm applies in criminal restitution determinations. The operator of a training course for commercial truck driver imposed a $1900 fine on its student for the loss of a study guide. Defendant stole a backpack from the student’s parked car that contained the study guide. The student did not pay the fine. The district court concluded that $1900 far exceeded the actual cost to print the guide but ordered Defendant to pay that amount in restitution to the victim. The Supreme Court reversed after adopting the scope-of-liability analysis in the Restatement (Third) of Torts for criminal restitution cases, holding that the district court erred by awarding the amount of $1900 without substantial evidentiary support. View "State v. Roache" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s application for postconviction relief (PCR), holding that Appellant’s requested remand for a new hearing was not available and that Appellant’s claim that his postconviction counsel was ineffective must be brought in a separate application for PCR. In his application for PCR Appellant sought to vacate his conviction based on newly discovered evidence. The district court denied the PCR application and rejected Appellant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court improperly dismissed his PCR application because his postconviction counsel failed to present physical evidence at the PCR hearing to support his claim. Therefore, Appellant asked that his PCR application be remanded to the district court for a new hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no error occurred, that the request made to remand the case failed, and that Appellant must raise his claim of ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel in a separate application for PCR. View "Goode v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals denying Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim on appeal, holding that the court erred in finding that Defendant waived his ineffective assistance claim by only including a cursory discussion of ineffective assistance in a footnote. Defendant was convicted of drug offenses. On appeal, the court of appeals held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions, and (2) Defendant failed to preserve error on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. On further review, the Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in rejecting Defendant’s ineffective assistance claim rather than preserving it for a postconviction relief proceeding. The Court then affirmed the judgment of the district court and instructed that Defendant could bring a separate postconviction relief action based on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held tha before May 11, 2017, Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) Motor Vehicle Enforcement (MVE) officers lacked authority to stop vehicles and issue speeding tickets or other traffic citations unrelated to operating authority, registration, size, weight, and load. In 2016, two motorists were separately cited by MVE officers for speeding in a construction zone. In declaratory order proceedings, the IDOT concluded that MVE officers possessed authority to stop vehicles and issue these citations. The district court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, prior to May 11, 2017, IDOT peace officers were conferred only limited authority by chapter 321 of the Iowa Code to enforce violations relating to operating authority, registration, size, weight, and load of motor vehicles and trailers. View "Rilea v. Iowa Department of Transportation" on Justia Law