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State of Iowa v. Joshua John Paarmann

February 13, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JOSHUA JOHN PAARMANN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Paul L. Macek, Judge.

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

Joshua Paarmann challenges his conviction for felony escape under Iowa Code section 719.4(1) (2009). AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

Joshua Paarmann challenges his conviction for felony escape under Iowa Code section 719.4(1) (2009), alleging he should have been prosecuted instead under the absence-from-custody provision at Iowa Code section 719.4(3). Because substantial evidence backs the district court's determination that Paarmann intentionally left a facility to which he was committed by reason of his previous burglary conviction, we affirm his class "D" felony escape conviction.

In May 2008, Paarmann was convicted of forgery and burglary in the second degree*fn1 and sentenced to the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC placed him at the Davenport Work Release Center in December 2009. On December 30, 2009, nineteen-year-old Paarmann departed the work release center without permission. He left through a fire exit in the facility's dining hall. A staff person was located in the area of the dining room but was not situated near the exit. The door was equipped with a crash bar but not an alarm. When Paarmann did not return to the facility, the DOC placed him on "escape status." He was arrested on January 5, 2010.

On January 26, 2010, the State prepared a trial information, charging him with felony escape in violation of section 719.4(1) (2009). On April 19, 2010, Paarmann waived his right to a jury trial and stipulated to the facts set out in the previous paragraph. Defense counsel urged the district court to find Paarmann was not guilty of felony escape because the door was not guarded. The defense argued the facts instead fit the serious misdemeanor described in section 719.4(3). The district court issued its verdict on April 30, 2010, finding Paarmann guilty of felony escape. On May 19, 2010, the court sentenced him to an indeterminate five-year term to run consecutive to his current sentence. Paarmann appealed that same day.

On appeal, Paarmann reiterates his belief that his offense fell under section 719.4(3) and not 719.4(1). Our review of the sufficiency and statutory interpretation issues is for errors at law. See State v. Jorgensen, 758 N.W.2d 830, 834 (Iowa 2008).

The best place to start is the language of the statutes. The felony escape statute provides, in pertinent part:

A person convicted of a felony . . . who intentionally escapes . . . from a detention facility, community-based correctional facility, or institution to which the person has been committed by reason of the conviction . . . commits a class "D" felony.

Iowa Code § 719.4(1).

The absence-from-custody provision states, in pertinent part:

A person who has been committed to an institution under the control of the Iowa department of corrections, to a community-based correctional facility . . . who knowingly and voluntarily is absent from a place where the person is required to be, commits a serious misdemeanor.

Iowa Code § 719.4(3).

In State v. Burtlow, 299 N.W.2d 665, 669 (Iowa 1980), our supreme court discussed the difference ...


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