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State v. Miller

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 21, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CRAIG LEE MILLER, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Randy V. Hefner, Judge.

         A defendant appeals his conviction for second-degree burglary.

          Emily K. DeRonde of DeRonde Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Johnston, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Craig Miller appeals his conviction for second-degree burglary. We find the district court did not abuse its discretion or consider improper factors in its sentence. We preserve Miller's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for potential postconviction proceedings. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Miller had been employed at Edgewater, a care center for the elderly, but lost his job. On August 28, 2015, Miller burglarized his former employer. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Miller agreed to plead guilty to one count of second-degree burglary, in violation of Iowa Code sections 703.1, 703.2, 713.1, and 713.5 (2015). In return the State agreed to recommend a suspended sentence and probation in lieu of prison. The plea agreement was not conditioned on the district court's acceptance.

         Miller claims his trial counsel advised him the court had agreed to be bound to the sentencing recommendations of the plea agreement. At the plea hearing it was made apparent the district court was not bound by the sentencing recommendations in the plea agreement:

THE COURT: Do you understand, Mr. Miller, that any plea agreements or sentencing recommendations made to the Court at the time of your sentencing are not binding on the Court and that the Court is free to impose any sentence it feels is appropriate at the time of sentencing? In other words, while the parties may both be recommending probation to the sentencing Judge, the sentencing Judge does not have to follow that agreement and could impose a prison term if he or she thinks it's appropriate. Do you understand that?
MR. GRAVES: Did you understand that, sir?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: So, in other words, there are no guarantees as to what your sentence is going to ...

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