Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Randal J. Nigg, Judge.
Justin Jentz appeals the district court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to the charges of operating a motor vehicle while barred, operating while revoked, and driving while suspended.
Gina L. Kramer of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary Triick and Kevin Cmelik, Assistant Attorney General, Ralph Potter, County Attorney, Mark Hostager, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and McDonald, JJ.
Justin Jentz appeals the district court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to the charges of operating a motor vehicle while barred, operating while revoked, and driving while suspended. The court did not abuse its discretion in denying Jentz's motion, considering his pleas were both voluntarily and intelligently made, with Jentz only showing signs of remorse after the district court announced its sentencing decision. Jentz also argues trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to dismiss based on speedy trial grounds. Because the delays were primarily due to Jentz's own actions, a motion to dismiss based on speedy trial grounds would not have succeeded, and thus no prejudice can be established. Therefore, we affirm.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
On June 5, 2011, a Dubuque County officer stopped a vehicle driven by Jentz after noticing a beer can perched on the front dash. Upon running his license, the officer determined Jentz was barred from driving and arrested him. Three charges arose from the incident. Operating while barred under Iowa Code section 321.561 (2011), an aggravated misdemeanor, and operating while revoked under Iowa Code section 321J.21, a serious misdemeanor, were brought under one case number. An operating while suspended count under Iowa Code section 321.218, a simple misdemeanor, was charged in a separate complaint.
Jentz was arraigned on June 14, 2011 for the indictable offenses. After several continuances, Jentz's absence from the state for six months, and six different trial dates, Jentz entered an Alford plea to all three charges on October 31, 2012. Once the court announced its sentencing decision, Jentz expressed some confusion about the proceedings, then stated: "I would like to withdraw my plea and go to trial and let a jury decide then. I wasn't even doing anything and before judgment [is] out I would like to withdraw my plea." The court denied the motion and issued a written order explaining its reasoning. Jentz now appeals, claiming the court abused its discretion in denying his motion and that counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to dismiss based on speedy trial grounds.
II. Motion to Withdraw Plea
Jentz claims the district court should have granted his motion to withdraw the plea because his motion was equivalent to a motion in arrest of judgment, and his plea was not voluntary and intelligent, as required by due process. We first note a motion to withdraw a guilty plea under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.8(2)(a), which is within the court's discretion to grant or deny, is not equivalent to a motion in arrest of judgment under rule 2.24(3)(a), which asserts a deficiency in the plea proceedings. Jentz clearly sought to withdraw his plea.
Moving to the merits of his claim, Jentz asserts the language of the written plea stated "I wish to submit to a finding of guilty" rather than that he was "pleading guilty, " as well as his expressed confusion about the nature of the plea proceeding after the court announced its sentence. He relies on State v. Sayre, 566 N.W.2d 193, 196 (Iowa 1997), in which our supreme court reversed the district court's denial of the defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea because the record was unclear whether the defendant actually pled guilty or was found guilty after stipulating to the minutes of testimony.
We review the grant or denial of a motion to withdraw a guilty plea for an abuse of discretion. State v. Speed, 573 N.W.2d 594, 596 (Iowa 1998). The court abuses its discretion only when it is exercised on grounds or for reasons clearly untenable or to an extent clearly unreasonable. Id. "The refusal to allow withdrawal will be upheld where a defendant, with full knowledge of the charge against him and of his rights and the consequences of a plea of guilty, enters such a plea understandably and without fear or persuasion." Id. (internal citations omitted). To ...