from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, John M.
defendant appeals the sentences imposed following his pleas
of guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and
possession of methamphetamine.
J. Mitchell of Orsborn, Milani, Mitchell & Goedken,
L.L.P., Ottumwa, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
Nickerson appeals the sentences imposed following his guilty
pleas to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of
methamphetamine. He contends the district court abused its
discretion by failing to give reasons for rejecting probation
or for ordering his prison sentences to run consecutively. We
find the district court provided ample rationale for imposing
incarceration, but because the district court failed to offer
any reasons for consecutive sentences, we vacate that portion
of the order and remand for a new sentencing hearing.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
22, 2015, the State charged Nickerson with two counts of
possession of a firearm by a felon, a class "D"
felony, in violation of Iowa Code section 724.26(1) (2015),
and one count of possession of a controlled substance
(methamphetamine), third offense, a class "D"
felony, in violation of section 124.401(5). At a pretrial
conference on October 6, the parties reached a plea
agreement. The State agreed to dismiss one of the
firearm-possession counts, and Nickerson agreed to plead
guilty to the other firearm-possession count and an amended
count of possession of a controlled substance, second
offense, an aggravated misdemeanor. The parties acknowledged
sentencing would be "open, " but they agreed the
State would recommend concurrent terms of incarceration and
Nickerson would ask for probation at the sentencing hearing.
November 23, 2015 sentencing hearing, the State, consistent
with the plea agreement, asked the court to order
incarceration with the two sentences to run concurrently.
Nickerson, through counsel, requested the court suspend his
sentences and order him to be placed at a residential
correctional facility as part of his probation. Nickerson
also addressed the court personally. He expressed remorse but
also attributed his criminal behavior to his desire to
"help"-Nickerson claimed he had been planning to
sell guns and other items to get money for his family-and to
cope with a medical condition as he felt using
methamphetamine helped alleviate his symptoms of multiple
Nickerson's statement, the district court imposed a
period of incarceration not to exceed five years on the
firearm-possession count and a period of incarceration not to
exceed two years on the controlled-substance count, to be
served consecutively. Nickerson appeals his sentences.
Standard and Scope of Review
review a district court's sentencing decision for an
abuse of discretion. See State v. Hill, 878 N.W.2d
269, 272 (Iowa 2016). "A district court abuses its
discretion when it exercises its discretion on grounds
clearly untenable or to an extent clearly unreasonable."
Id. We consider a district court's reasoning
"untenable when it is not supported by substantial
evidence or when it is based on an erroneous application of
the law." See id.