from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Thomas G.
defendant challenges his sentence for theft.
R. McCartney of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Linda J. Hines, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., Mullins, J., and Blane, S.J.
Williams stole his neighbor's purse in December 2013. The
value of the property exceeded one thousand dollars. Williams
was charged with theft in the second degree, a class
"D" felony. See Iowa Code § 714.2(2)
negotiated a plea agreement with the State. Pursuant to the
plea agreement, if Williams paid restitution in full and
obtained a substance-abuse evaluation by the time of
sentencing, the State would reduce the charge to theft in the
third degree. See id. § 714.2(3).
parties appeared for sentencing on March 10, 2016. There,
Williams requested a one-week continuance to secure payment
from an employer for a job he had done and complete the
substance-abuse evaluation. The State resisted the
continuance, but the court ultimately continued the
sentencing until March 18. On March 18, Williams appeared
with $400 toward the restitution requirement but no
substance-abuse evaluation. He again asked for a continuance.
The sentencing hearing was continued until April 1. On April
1, Williams appeared, having partially completed the
substance-abuse evaluation but failing to provide a urine
sample and making no additional progress toward restitution.
Again he moved for a continuance. The court recessed for a
period of time to give Williams more time to see if he could
fully comply, but when no further progress was made, the
court denied his motion and sentenced Williams to a term not
to exceed five years in prison.
appeals. He argues the district court abused its discretion
in denying his motion to continue sentencing and in
sentencing him to prison for a period not to exceed five
years. See State v. Barnes, 791 N.W.2d 817, 827
(Iowa 2010) (stating sentencing orders are reviewed for abuse
of discretion); State v. Artzer, 609 N.W.2d 526, 529
(Iowa 2000) (stating appellate review of denial of motion to
continue is for abuse of discretion).
the decision whether to grant or deny a motion to continue is
within the discretion of a trial court. See Artzer,
609 N.W.2d at 530. We may reverse a denial of a continuance,
however, if "substantial justice will be more nearly
obtained" with the continuance. State v.
Ruesga, 619 N.W.2d 377, 384 (Iowa Ct. App. 2000). This
requires the moving party to show "good and compelling
cause." State v. Hardin, 569 N.W.2d 517, 521
(Iowa Ct. App. 1997).
argues good cause exists because the two continuances he was
granted were for but a short time, he had done work to secure
funds to pay his restitution, and he had done everything
short of provide a urine sample to get his substance-abuse
evaluation. This falls short of good cause. It is likely the
continuances were short because the requirements were easy.
That Williams was unable or unwilling to do what was
necessary demonstrates why the district court ultimately
denied his final motion to continue. Williams had substantial
opportunities to comply with the terms of the plea agreement.
He did not do so despite two continuances afforded him. The
district court did not abuse its discretion in denying his
third motion to continue.