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State v. Comstock

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 11, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TASHA NICOLE COMSTOCK, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant appeals her conviction for third-degree theft on speedy-indictment grounds. REVERSED AND REMANDED FOR DISMISSAL.

          Andrew C. Abbott of Abbott Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         Tasha Nicole Comstock appeals her conviction for theft in the third degree on speedy-indictment grounds. Comstock contends the State violated Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.33(2)(a) by waiting 269 days after her initial appearance to file its trial information. Because we find Comstock was arrested when she appeared in court and waived a preliminary hearing and the State did not file its trial information within forty-five days of that appearance, we reverse Comstock's conviction and remand for dismissal of the trial information.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         On August 23, 2005, a sergeant with the Waverly Police Department filed a criminal complaint accusing Comstock of third-degree theft. The complaint alleged Comstock had presented four checks written on a closed bank account to a Waverly Wal-Mart in May 2005. A magistrate issued a summons ordering Comstock to appear and answer the theft charge, and Comstock did so on October 14. Comstock also applied for counsel and waived a preliminary hearing at her October 14 appearance. After Comstock signed an agreement providing she would not leave Iowa without the written consent of the court, would keep her attorney apprised of her whereabouts, and would personally appear in court for all required hearings, the court released her on her own recognizance without bond.

         Nearly nine months later, on July 10, 2006, the State filed a trial information charging Comstock with aggravated-misdemeanor theft, in violation of Iowa Code sections 714.1 and 714.2 (2005). Comstock failed to appear for her arraignment, and the court issued a warrant for her arrest on August 7, 2006. She was not arrested on the outstanding warrant until January 2015.

         On March 27, 2015, Comstock filed a motion to dismiss, alleging a speedy-indictment violation. In resistance, the State did not attempt to show good cause for the delay. Instead, the State cited State v. Mahan, 483 N.W.2d 1, 1-2 (Iowa 1992), in support of its contention Comstock had not been arrested before the State filed its trial information and, because no arrest occurred, the speedy-indictment rule had not been triggered. Adopting the State's rationale, the district court denied Comstock's motion to dismiss. On November 18, Comstock waived her right to a jury trial and agreed to a trial on the minutes of testimony. Following trial, the court found Comstock guilty.

         II. Scope and Standard of Review

         We review the district court's interpretation of rule 2.33(2)(a) for correction of legal error.[1] State v. Penn-Kennedy, 862 N.W.2d 384, 386 (Iowa 2015). If the fact-findings are supported by substantial evidence, we are bound by them. Id.

         III. ...


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