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State v. Leonhard

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 2, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LUCAS BENJAMIN LEONHARD, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Louisa County, Mary Ann Brown, Judge.

         Lucas Leonhard appeals his judgment and sentence entered after his guilty plea to eluding. AFFIRMED.

          Eric D. Tindal of Nidey Erdahl Tindal & Fisher, PLC, Williamsburg, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Jean C. Pettinger, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         Lucas Leonhard appeals his judgment and sentence entered after his guilty plea to eluding, in violation of Iowa Code section 321.279(3)(b) (2015), a class "D" felony. Leonhard filed a motion in arrest of judgment claiming his attorney did not provide him with "all the information on what [he] was truly pleading guilty to." When the trial court denied the motion and entered judgment, Leonhard appealed, claiming there was no factual basis for his guilty plea and the district court violated his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights when it failed to provide him with new counsel to assist him with his motion in arrest of judgment.

         We find Leonhard provided a sufficient factual basis for his plea during the plea colloquy and the court was under no obligation to provide new counsel after properly questioning Leonhard regarding his motion in arrest of judgment. We therefore affirm his conviction.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On November 10, 2015, Louisa County Sheriff's deputies, armed with the knowledge that Leonhard had a warrant out for his arrest and his driving privileges had been revoked, attempted to execute a traffic stop of the Nissan Maxima Leonhard was observed driving. Leonhard initially pulled the car over onto the shoulder of the highway as if he was going to stop, but then he accelerated away from the officers. A high-speed chase ensued with Leonhard speeding over one hundred twenty-seven miles per hour in a fifty-five miles per hour zone. Officers deployed stop sticks, and Leonhard's car became disabled after running over them. Once his car stopped, Leonhard was arrested and officers found methamphetamine and marijuana in the car. By amended trial information, Leonhard was charged with eluding as an habitual offender, a class "D" felony, in violation of Iowa Code sections 321.279(3)(b)[1] and 902.8. He was also charged with driving while under revocation, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.21, a serious misdemeanor. Leonhard pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of eluding without the habitual offender enhancement. The State agreed to dismiss the driving while under revocation charge. Both parties agreed to incarceration as part of the plea agreement.

         During the plea hearing, in discussing the factual basis of the charge, there was some confusion about whether the substance Leonhard possessed while eluding was methamphetamine or marijuana. The court asked, "And it was methamphetamine, wasn't it?" The prosecutor responded, "Yes, your honor." Leonhard was allowed to consult with his attorney. After having consulted with Leonard off the record, his attorney responded to the court's question: "I believe the factual basis that Mr. Leonhard is prepared to provide today, Your Honor, regarding the controlled substance is marijuana, not methamphetamine. I don't think that that changes the result because marijuana is still a controlled substance under 124.401. Did I state that accurately, Mr. Leonhard?" Leonhard responded, "Yeah." The prosecutor then agreed that if Leonhard was willing to stipulate to marijuana as the substance in his possession, the State would agree to that stipulation as a basis for Leonhard's plea. After Leonhard again consulted with his attorney off the record, the court asked him: "So the State would have to prove all those elements I talked about and the only change would be that the- during the time of this eluding, you had in your possession marijuana. Do you understand those elements?" Leonhard responded, "Yes, ma'am."

         The court asked Leonhard specifically about the elements of the crime: "And when you failed to stop, did you then exceed the speed limit by 25 miles per hour or more?" and "When you were doing this, did you have in your possession marijuana?" After Leonhard answered yes to both of the court's questions, the parties agreed these questions were a sufficient factual basis for Leonhard's plea.

         Leonhard did not claim to have any concerns regarding his plea or his ...


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