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State v. Pierce

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 6, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DANIEL BLAIN PIERCE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Greene County, Gary L. McMinimee, Judge.

         A defendant challenges his plea of guilty to theft in the first degree.

          Charles J. Kenville of Kenville Law Firm, P.C., Fort Dodge, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         Daniel Pierce wants to "take back" his plea of guilty to first-degree theft for stealing a Chevy Silverado pickup from the parking lot of the Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson. Pierce argues he should be allowed to plead anew because of two errors by defense counsel: (1) allowing Pierce to plead guilty when the record did not reveal his intent to permanently deprive the owner of the truck and (2) misadvising Pierce that he could be released on his own recognizance after entering his guilty plea in Greene County without realizing Polk County authorities had issued a warrant for his arrest. Because we find counsel performed with reasonable competence in regard to the factual-basis issue, we affirm. But we preserve Pierce's second claim for possible postconviction-relief proceedings.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Pierce was accused of a spree of vehicle thefts in a trial information filed by the Greene County Attorney. The information alleged one count of ongoing criminal conduct, a class "B" felony, and three counts of first-degree theft, class "C" felonies. According to the minutes of evidence, witnesses were expected to testify a Dodge Caravan was stolen from a Pleasant Hill residence on April 26, 2016, and recovered in the Wild Rose parking lot on May 1. The Silverado truck was reported missing from the same lot on May 1 and was recovered in a farm field outside of Dawson two days later. Also on May 3, a Rippey resident reported his Ford F-150 pickup missing; it was recovered by Baxter police on May 5.

         Pierce reached a plea bargain with the State on June 22, 2016. At the July 5 plea hearing, the county attorney offered the following summary of the agreement:

The defendant is to plead guilty to one count of theft second degree, a [class] "C" felony. I believe that will be Count III of the Information. I will dismiss the remaining charges pending against him . . . . I have agreed to go along with whatever sentencing recommendation may be contained in his presentence investigation report . . . I am asking that the sentence run concurrently with the sentence he receives in Jasper County on an operating motor vehicle without owner's consent charge. I will be asking that he be ordered to pay victim restitution to all victims, including the dismissed charges. Will be asking he be ordered to pay attorney fees and court costs. I will be recommending suspension of the minimum fine, and I will be agreeing to his release on his own recognizance after guilty plea proceedings here this morning.

         At that same hearing, Pierce admitted taking possession of the 2008 Chevy Silverado on May 1 in Jefferson. Pierce told the court the key was in the ignition when he "climbed into the truck, started it, and took off with it." Pierce acknowledged, when he took possession of the truck, he had the specific intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle. The district court accepted the guilty plea and informed Pierce of his right to file a motion in arrest of judgment.

         As soon as Pierce returned to the Greene County jail following the plea hearing, a jailer informed him "there was a warrant for [his] arrest in Polk County" and a detainer had been pending for "the whole month and a half" he had been in jail. When Pierce asked the jailer why he had not been notified earlier, she stated he "didn't ask."

         In response to learning about the detainer, Pierce filed a handwritten motion in arrest of judgment on July 22, 2016. He expressed his desire to "take back his former plea of guilty, " alleging "the major reason" he entered the guilty plea was because he "would be released on OR [own recognizance] when in fact the county attorney knew Polk County would file theft [first] charges ...


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