Articles 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

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The administration of a warrantless breath test to Defendant violated Iowa Const. art. I, 8 because the State failed to prove that Defendant voluntarily consented to the warrantless breath test and failed to prove that the breath test was justified by an exception to the warrant requirement. Defendant was convicted of operating a motorboat while under the influence. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress all evidence after an officer seized the boat he was operating, including the results of a blood test he submitted to. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the law enforcement officer’s seizure of the boat Defendant was operating was constitutional because the officer had a reasonable, articulable suspicion Defendant was committing a crime; but (2) Defendant did not effectively consent to the warrantless breath test, and therefore, the admission of the breath test results violated article I, section 8. View "State v. Pettijohn" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory review on a discovery dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court ordering counsel for Defendant to provide notice to the State before serving any subpoenas duces tecum on third parties and finding that there was no statutory or constitutional authority to support Defendant’s position that he had a right to issue ex parte subpoenas duces tecum. Defendant, who was charged with child endangerment, resisted the State’s motion regulate discovery and request that the district court enter an order prohibiting Defendant from issuing ex parte subpoenas duces tecum. The district court granted the State’s motion and issued a protective order stating that Defendant was prohibited from issuing any subpoena except under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court grant of the motion to regulate discovery, holding (1) the proper procedure for Defendant to use if he seeks to issues an ex parte subpoena duces tecum is to file a motion setting forth the basis for the request; and (2) there is no corresponding constitutional violation under the state or federal Constitutions. View "State v. Russell" on Justia Law

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The district court did not abuse its discretion in commencing a criminal trial on June 26 and then postponing the presentation of evidence to July 7, eight days after the June 29 expiration of the speedy trial deadline due to the unavailability of medical experts. Defendant was charged with attempted murder and other offenses. Jury selection was reset for June 26. Eleven days later, on July 7, the State called four witnesses, including a medical expert. The jury found Defendant guilty of the lesser included offenses of assault with intent to inflict serious injury, criminal trespass, and willful injury causing serious injury. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentence, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the court’s use of a start-and-stop procedure to avoid the speedy trial deadline should be analyzed under the same standards as a straightforward extension of the speedy trial deadline, the trial court acted within its discretion; and (2) Defendant’s other issues on appeal were without merit. View "State v. McNeal" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of two lottery-related offenses - fraudulently passing or redeeming, or attempting to pass or redeem, a lottery ticket; and influencing or attempting to influence the winning of a prize through fraud, deception, or tampering with lottery equipment or materials. Defendant moved to dismiss both charges as untimely. The district court denied the motion, concluding (1) the fraudulent passing and tampering charges were continuing offenses under Iowa Code 802.7; and (2) the one-year fraud extension of the statute of limitations provided in Iowa Code 802.5 applied to the charges. On appeal, Defendant claimed that his prosecution on both charges was barred by the three-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the fraudulent passing charge was not a continuing offense, and any “passing” alternative must have been completed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations; and (2) because the State did not show that it pursued its investigation with due diligence, the State was not entitled to a one-year fraud extension on the tampering charge, and therefore, the tampering charge should have been dismissed. View "State v. Tipton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Iowa Const. art. I, section 17 does not categorically prohibit a district court form sentencing a juvenile offender to a minimum term of incarceration without the possibility of parole, provided that the court only imposes the sentence after a complete and careful consideration of the relevant mitigating factors of youth. Defendant, who was a juvenile at the time of his offense, was resentenced to a minimum term of incarceration of seventeen and one-half years for sexual abuse in the second degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that any minimum term of incarceration without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed the sentence. The Supreme Court remanded for resentencing, holding that, while the Iowa Constitution does not require abandonment of the practice at issue, the district court abused its discretion in this case by imposing a sentence of incarceration without parole eligibility. View "State v. Roby" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to attempted murder and burglary in the second degree for a crime he committed when he was a juvenile. Following a resentencing hearing, the district court sentenced Defendant to a term of incarceration of twenty-five years for attempted murder, with seventy percent of the sentence to be served prior to parole eligibility. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court failed properly to apply the relevant sentencing factors in sentencing him to a period of incarceration without eligibility for parole. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing consistent with the sentencing factors as explained in State v. Roby, __ N.W.2d __ (Iowa 2017), also filed today, holding that the district court abused its discretion in imposing a minimum period of incarceration without eligibility for parole where the court (1) misapplied the relevant factors identified and explained in Roby; and (2) failed to consider some of the relevant factors and gave improper weight to factors beyond those described in Roby. View "State v. Majors" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law