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State of Iowa v. David Neal Beenken

February 13, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DAVID NEAL BEENKEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wright County, Rustin T. Davenport, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mullins, J.

David Neal Beenken appeals from his conviction of second-degree theft by deception for collecting over $15,000 from an elderly man for business services he never performed. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

David Neal Beenken, the defendant, appeals his conviction for second-degree theft by deception. On appeal, Beenken contends his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective because the record does not establish a factual basis for an Alford plea to second-degree theft. Additionally, he argues trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in failing to file a motion to suppress in a timely manner. We affirm.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

This case first came to the State's attention when a family member of ninety-five-year-old Merle Poulson discovered Beenken had charged Poulson over $115,000 for home repairs on a residence with a total land and structure value of $64,800. These charges included $15,023 to install 672 feet of sewer liner in the spring of 2010.

Police officers obtained a search warrant to search Beenken's vehicles and home for business documents and invoices related to relevant business transactions with Poulson. Officers and two city employees used a sewer video camera to determine Beenken did not install sewer lining in Poulson's residence as he had indicated to Poulson prior to charging him over $15,000. Police then hired a plumbing technician to scope the sewer line, and confirmed Beenken had not installed the sewer lining. The State charged Beenken with first-degree theft, and the court issued a warrant for his arrest.

Pursuant to a plea agreement, Beenken entered an Alford plea to second-degree theft. At a lengthy sentencing hearing, Beenken presented testimony and entered exhibits to explain his actions. The judge sentenced Beenken to a suspended five-year prison term. Beenken now appeals his conviction.

II. Standard of Review

Appellate review for a lack-of-a-factual-basis challenge to a guilty plea is for correction of errors of law. State v. Martin, 778 N.W.2d 201, 202 (Iowa 2009). Where, as here, the defendant raises such a claim in an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel context, our review is de novo. Id.

We review Beenken's challenge to probable cause supporting the search warrant de novo. See State v. Gogg, 561 N.W.2d 360, 363 (Iowa 1997). Our task on review is to determine whether the issuing judge had a substantial basis for concluding probable cause existed. Id. We will address the merits of an ineffective-assistance claim on direct appeal where the record is adequate. Martin, 778 N.W.2d at 202. We find the record adequate to address both of the Beenken's ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims in this case.

III. Analysis

A. Factual Basis

The defendant argues the defense attorney provided ineffective assistance because the defendant's Alford plea to second-degree theft was without a factual basis.*fn1 "The district court may not accept a guilty plea without first determining that the plea has a factual basis. This requirement exists even where the plea is an Alford ...


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