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State v. Hughlette

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JODY LYNN HUGHLETTE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Richard G. Blane II, Judge.

         A defendant appeals her conviction.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Shellie L. Knipfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ. Blane, S.J. takes no part.

          VOGEL, Judge.

         Jody Hughlette appeals her conviction for possessing a taxable substance without affixing a tax stamp, in violation of Iowa Code section 453B.1, .3, and .12 (2014). Specifically, Hughlette claims the State was required to prove she knew the weight of the methamphetamine she possessed was seven grams or more. Because we conclude the statute does not contain such a requirement, we affirm her conviction.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On the evening of September 5, 2014, an officer with the Des Moines Police Department (DMPD) was dispatched to East 14th Street and Dean Avenue on reports of a fight involving a weapon. The officer encountered a group of people, which included Hughlette, in a parking lot approximately one block away. After talking with the group, the officer decided to arrest some of the individuals, including Hughlette, for disorderly conduct. The officer then requested a female officer be sent to the scene to assist in searching the individuals for contraband. When the female officer arrived and searched Hughlette, she discovered a clear plastic bag containing methamphetamine tucked into her bra. The bag contained 23.78 grams of methamphetamine, [1] and it did not have a tax stamp on it.

          On October 10, 2014, the State charged Hughlette with one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(b)(7) and one count of possessing a taxable substance without affixing a tax stamp, in violation of Iowa Code section 453B.1, .3, and .12. At trial, Hughlette argued the State was required to prove she knew the weight of methamphetamine she possessed was seven or more grams. The district court determined the statute did not contain such a requirement and rejected Hughlette's argument. On September 2, 2015, the jury found Hughlette guilty of possession of a controlled substance-a lesser-included offense of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver-and guilty of possessing a taxable substance without affixing a tax stamp. Hughlette appeals the tax-stamp conviction.

         II. Standard of Review

         As the question raised on appeal is one of statutory interpretation, we review it for correction of errors at law. See State v. Hagen, 840 N.W.2d 140, 144 (Iowa 2013) ("Questions of statutory interpretation . . . are reviewed for correction of errors at law.").

         III. Statutory Requirements

         Hughlette argues the tax-stamp statute contains a knowledge element that applies to the weight of the taxable substance as well as the nature of the substance itself. The State responds that the knowledge requirement only applies to the nature of the ...


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