from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Paul R.
defendant contends the sentencing court abused its discretion
in sending him to prison for an aggravated-misdemeanor
Nicholas J. Einwalter, Des Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
pleading guilty to assault with intent to inflict serious
injury, Dustin Kern received an indeterminate two-year prison
term. On appeal, he contends the district court abused its
discretion in denying his bid for probation. Because the
reasons given by the district court reveal a proper exercise
of discretion, we affirm the sentence.
told police "some confrontational discussions via
Facebook" spurred his assault on another young man in
April 2016. Kern arrived at an apartment in Adel where he
found several people, including his victim, Z.D. In his
statement to police, Kern recalled telling Z.D. he was not
afraid to "whoop his ass." Kern proceeded to hold
down Z.D. while punching him repeatedly in the face. Z.D.
suffered a black eye, swollen shut, as well as multiple cuts
State charged Kern with willful injury, a class "D"
felony, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(2) (2016).
The State reduced the charge to assault with intent to
inflict serious injury, an aggravated misdemeanor, in
violation of section 708.2(1), in exchange for Kern's
plea of guilty. Under the plea agreement, Kern was free to
argue for what he considered an appropriate sentence and the
State, "at worst, " would make a recommendation
consistent with the presentence investigation (PSI) report.
report recommended incarceration, noting Kern's history
of "assaultive behaviors combined with substance
abuse." According to the PSI, Kern committed burglary
and assault while displaying a weapon in 2001, serving time
in prison for those convictions until 2005. Kern had another
assault conviction in 2014 and a conviction for possession of
drug paraphernalia in 2015. The PSI report pointed to
Kern's "history of unsuccessful community
supervision and his apparent propensity for violence, "
concluding "it appears the defendant cannot be safely
managed in the community."
sentencing hearing, the State asked the district court to
impose a term of imprisonment not to exceed two years.
Defense counsel told the court his client's conduct
"was fueled by his drug addiction" and asked the
court to structure a probationary sentence, which could
provide Kern "an opportunity to get the help that he
greatly needs." Counsel believed Kern was
"well-suited for that form of supervision, despite the
stumbles that he's had in the past." In his
allocution, Kern, who was thirty-three years old, admitted
making "a lot of bad choices" in his life and said
he was ready "to start going down a different road,
because the one [he'd] been on was pretty bumpy."
Kern told the court he recently made two "good
choices" by getting married and starting a family.
considering the statements of counsel and the PSI report, the
district court noted Kern's unsuccessful probation in
April 2014 and his drug paraphernalia conviction just two
months before this assault. The court then gave the following
reasons for imposing a prison sentence: "Based upon the
circumstances and the violent offense, the defendant's
prior criminal history, the need for protection of the public
from further offenses, and all of the circumstances as stated
in the [PSI] report, the court does not find that probation
is appropriate in this case."
appeals his sentence, alleging the district court acted
unreasonably in choosing a term of confinement over
review Kern's sentence for correction of errors at law
and will not reverse unless we find an abuse of discretion or
a defect in the sentencing procedure. See State v.
Formaro, 638 N.W.2d 720, 724 (Iowa 2002). We entertain a
presumption in favor of the sentence chosen by the district
court, so long as it is within the limits of the statute.
See id. A district court abuses its discretion when
it chooses the sentencing option "on grounds clearly
untenable or to an extent clearly unreasonable."
State v. Hill, 878 N.W.2d 269, 272 (Iowa 2016). The
grounds are untenable when they are "not supported by