Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of second-degree murder. On appeal, Defendant claimed, among other things, that he was forced to use a peremptory strike to disqualify a potential juror who should have been disqualified for cause, and therefore, reversal was required even though the potential juror was not seated and there was no specific showing of prejudice. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the actual prejudice test of State v. Neuendorf, 509 N.W.2d 743 (Iowa 1993), rather than the automatic prejudice test of State v. Mootz, 808 N.W.2 207 (Iowa 2012), controlled in this case; and (2) consequently, Defendant could not succeed in this appeal. View "State v. Jonas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained after an officer stopped his vehicle for being on a county access road after hours. The district court determined that Defendant violated Iowa Code 350.5 by entering the county access area after hours, regardless of whether there was a sign posted to identify the county access area or the park hours. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant’s vehicle when it was on the county access road after hours because, without a proper posting of the closing time, the officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant; and (2) therefore, the district court should have suppressed any drug evidence found in Defendant’s vehicle. View "State v. Scheffert" on Justia Law

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Defendant was not entitled to an automatic new trial after the district court, over Defendant’s objection, required a standby interpreter for his jury trial. Defendant requested, and was provided, an interpreter for all of his pretrial hearings. Defendant sought to waive the interpreter for his jury trial, however. The district court nevertheless ordered a standby interpreter to sit in the gallery translating through a wireless earpiece Defendant could remove at his option. Defendant waived the jury and, after a bench trial, was convicted of selling cocaine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant had a right to waive the interpreter, but the district court did not abuse its discretion by ordering a standby interpreter over Defendant’s objection; and (2) the record was inadequate to review Defendant’s claim that his counsel was ineffective in waiving the jury. View "State v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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A “criminal case” as used in Iowa’s recently enacted expungement law, Iowa Code 901C.2, refers to a single numbered legal proceeding. In 2011, Defendant was charged with several aggravated misdemeanors in a single trial information. At the same time, he was separately charged by criminal complaint with a single misdemeanor. Defendant pleaded guilty to a lesser included offense of one count of the trial information, and all other charges, including the simple misdemeanor criminal complaint, were dismissed. In 2016, Defendant sought expungement of the record of the dismissed simple misdemeanor complaint. The magistrate and district court denied relief, concluding that the misdemeanor and the offense to which Defendant had pled guilty in the trial information comprised a single criminal case within the meaning of section 901C.2(1)(a)(1) because they were factually related. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s judgment denying expungement, holding that Defendant was entitled to expungement of the record of the dismissed simple misdemeanor complaint. View "State v. Clemens" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was required to register as a sex offender under Iowa Code 692A.103(1) upon his conviction of lascivious conduct with a minor and release on bond, notwithstanding this appeal. Defendant argued that he had no obligation to register after posting an appeal bond to stay execution of the underlying criminal judgment and before he began serving any prison sentence or was placed on probation. The district court concluded that Defendant was required to register as of the date he was sentenced to prison for the sex offense and was released on the appeal bond. Defendant’s conviction was later affirmed on appeal. Now Defendant faced new criminal charges for violating chapter 692A’s sex offender residency restrictions before his conviction was affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding (1) the stay of execution on Defendant’s criminal judgment did not delay the automatic administrative registration requirement for convicted sex offenders; and (2) Defendant’s release on the appeal bond constituted a “release from incarceration” within the meaning of section 692A.103(1). View "Maxwell v. Iowa Department of Public Safety" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Under the circumstances of this case, Defendant was denied procedural protections for determining his status as an habitual offender at trial, and Defendant did not need to preserve error by filing a motion in arrest of judgment. After a bench trial, Defendant was convicted of indecent exposure and sentenced as a habitual offender. Defendant also pled guilty to indecent exposure. On appeal, the State conceded that the plea colloquy was insufficient. However, contrary to Defendant’s arguments, the State argued that the stipulation relating to Defendant’s prior convictions was sufficient. The court of appeals concluded that Defendant failed to preserve error on his claim that the stipulation concerning his prior convictions was deficient and that Defendant was required to challenge the sufficiency of the proceedings either by filing a motion in arrest of judgment or by another means. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and reversed the judgment and sentences of the district court, holding (1) requirements of the enhanced-penalty hearing were not followed by the district court; and (2) the error preservation rule established in State v. Harrington, 893 N.W.2d 36 (Iowa 2017) was not in existence at the time. View "State v. Steiger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) may not forfeit earned time an inmate accrued before his refusal of or removal from the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP). For more than a decade, the IDOC policy stopped only the ongoing accrual of earned time for inmates upon a refusal or removal from SOTP without forfeiting previously accrued earned time. This interpretation was upheld by the Supreme Court in Holm v. State, 767 U.W.2d 409 (Iowa 2009). In 2016, the IDOC changed its policy to additionally forfeit all previously accrued earned time upon a refusal or removal from SOTP and applied that change retroactively. The district court concluded that the new IDOC policy interpretation and application to a certain inmate whose release was delayed by more than three years due to the new policy was contrary to Holm and violated the state and federal Ex Post Facto Clauses. The Supreme Court applied stare decisis and the interpretation fixed in Holm and affirmed. View "State v. Iowa District Court for Jones County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court decided not to abandon the automobile exception to the search warrant requirement under Iowa Const. art. I, 8 despite technological advances enabling police to obtain warrants from the scene of a traffic stop. Defendant was convicted of possession with intent to deliver. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the warrantless search of his vehicle violated the Iowa Constitution because police can now obtain warrants electronically from the side of the road. The Supreme Court elected to retain the automobile exception, consistent with precedent, federal caselaw, and the overwhelming majority of other states. The court thus affirmed Defendant’s conviction. View "State v. Storm" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court abandoned the exclusive use of absolute disparity as a test for jury representativeness under the Sixth Amendment and permitted absolute disparity, comparative disparity, and standard deviation analyses to be used. Defendant, a black man, was convicted by an all-white jury of one count of harassment in the first degree. On appeal, Defendant argued that the racial composition of the jury pool violated his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury. The Supreme Court conditionally affirmed Defendant’s conviction and remanded the case for development of the record on the Sixth Amendment challenge, holding that the district court erred as a matter of law in concluding that the absolute disparity test must be used in deciding whether the jury pool was drawn from a fair cross-section of the community. View "State v. Plain" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declined Defendant’s invitation to overturn State v. Comried, 693 N.W. 2d 773 (Iowa 2005), which interpreted the operating while intoxicated (OWI) statute to ban driving a motor vehicle with any detective amount of a prohibited drug in one’s body, regardless of whether the ability to drive was impaired. Defendant, who was charged with OWI after a drug screen detected a non impairing metabolite of marijuana in his urine, moved to dismiss the OWI charge, arguing that Comried is no longer good law. The district court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss and convicted him. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction and reaffirmed Comried based on the plain meaning of the statutory text, holding that Defendant’s conviction must be upheld because Comried remained good law. View "State v. Childs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law