from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Bradley
J. Harris, Judge.
inmate appeals the court's denial of his application for
J. Smith of Mack, Hansen, Gadd, Armstrong & Brown P.C.,
Storm Lake, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
Aguilar-Garcia appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief, asserting two
deficiencies in the representation he received from his
attorney. Aguilar-Garcia argues (1) counsel did not
sufficiently investigate his defense or prepare for a
possible trial and (2) counsel misadvised him concerning the
immigration consequences of his plea. Because Aguilar-Garcia
fails to establish the performance of his counsel fell below
professional norms, we affirm the court's denial of
Facts and Prior Proceedings
State charged Aguilar-Garcia with four counts of sexual abuse
in the second degree, class "B" felonies, for
allegedly performing sex acts on a child under the age of
twelve. See Iowa Code §§ 709.1, 709.3(2)
(2011). On the day trial was set to begin in April 2012,
Aguilar-Garcia entered an Alford plea to one count
of sexual abuse in the second degree. As part of the plea
agreement, the State agreed to drop the three remaining
counts. The district court sentenced him to twenty-five years
in prison with a mandatory seventy-percent minimum.
Aguilar-Garcia did not directly appeal his conviction and
August 29, 2013, Aguilar-Garcia filed a pro se application
for postconviction relief (PCR). On June 29, 2016,
Aguilar-Garcia filed a recast petition, alleging his trial
counsel provided ineffective assistance by not giving him the
correct information regarding possible immigration
consequences and by not being prepared for trial.
district court held a PCR trial on July 13, 2016, at which
Aguilar-Garcia and his counsel both testified. Aguilar-Garcia
told the court his attorney "should have talked with my
witnesses and investigated this case more."
Aguilar-Garcia also testified he believed from speaking with
his attorney that he would be deported shortly after he
entered his guilty plea and would not have to serve the
mandatory minimum of seventeen years. Attorney Tomas
Rodriguez contradicted Aguilar-Garcia on both points,
testifying he was ready to proceed to trial and did not give
his client any guarantees concerning how long he would serve
in prison before being deported.
hearing the testimony and reviewing the criminal case file,
the PCR court denied Aguilar-Garcia's application. On the
question of trial preparation, the district court noted
counsel had deposed the alleged victim and medical experts
and counsel had reviewed all of the police reports. The court
also credited counsel's testimony that he spoke with the
witnesses identified by Aguilar-Garcia, who were sisters of
the alleged victim, but that they had no direct knowledge of
the alleged incidents and could only speak to his general
character. The court did not accept the claim counsel was
unprepared. On the claim regarding immigration consequences,
the PCR court found counsel did not misadvise Aguilar-Garcia
concerning the amount of time he would spend in prison before
now appeals the denial of his PCR application.