from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor
(motion to suppress) and Mark D. Cleve (trial/sentencing),
Akers appeals his conviction for possession of a firearm as a
felon. REVERSED AND REMANDED FOR DISMISSAL.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Bradley M. Bender,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Tabor, J., takes no part.
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
a bench trial, the district court found Michael Akers guilty
of possession of a firearm as a felon. See Iowa Code
§ 724.26(1) (2015). On appeal, Akers argues (1) the
evidence was insufficient to support the charge and (2) the
district court should have granted his motion to suppress
evidence. We find the first issue dispositive, making it
unnecessary to address the second issue.
Iowa Code section 724.26(1) states:
A person who is convicted of a felony in a state or federal
court, or who is adjudicated delinquent on the basis of
conduct that would constitute a felony if committed by an
adult, and who knowingly has under the person's dominion
and control or possession, receives, or transports or causes
to be transported a firearm or offensive weapon is guilty of
a class "D" felony.
district court stated, this provision required the State to
"prove by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt . . . the
defendant knowingly had . . . in his possession a firearm,
and secondly, that at that time the defendant had previously
been convicted of a felony in the State of Illinois."
appeal, Akers only challenges the second element. He argues
"the evidence submitted does not support a finding that
he was [a] felon as defined by Iowa Code section
724.25(1)." See id. §§ 724.25(1),
.26(1); see also Iowa Crim. J. Inst. 2400.7 &
cmt. Our review of the district court's findings
following a bench trial is for substantial evidence. See
State v. McFadden, 320 N.W.2d 608, 614 (Iowa 1982).
used in section 724.26, the word 'felony' means any
offense punishable in the jurisdiction where it occurred by
imprisonment for a term exceeding one year . . . ." Iowa
Code § 724.25(1). To prove the prior felony, the State
offered a certified record of documents associated with a
2010 Illinois charge of "criminal damage to property,
" "said damage being in excess of $300, but not in
excess of $10, 000." Although one of the documents
identified the Illinois statute on which the charge was
grounded, the most that can be gleaned about the penalty from
this statute is that the crime is a misdemeanor "if the
damage to property does not exceed $300" and a
"Class 4 felon[y] if the damage to property exceeds $300
but does not exceed $10, 000." See 720 Ill.
Comp. Stat. 5/21-1(1)(a), (2) (2010). None of the documents,
including the sentencing order, made reference to the penalty
statute associated with the charge. Cf. State v.
Sanborn, 564 N.W.2d 813, 816 (Iowa 1997) ("Nowhere
in the exhibit, however, are the penalty provisions
without deciding the value made the crime a class 4 felony
rather than a misdemeanor, the Illinois legislature's
characterization of the charge is not dispositive of whether
Akers was a felon. See State v. Olsen, 848 N.W.2d
363, 369 (Iowa 2014) ("[T]he fact that another state may
label a crime a 'felony' is not
determinative."). As noted, the State was required to
prove the Illinois crime was punishable by a term of
imprisonment exceeding one year. See Sanborn, 564
N.W.2d at 816 ("Where the predicate felony underlying
prosecution for a violation of section 724.26 occurs in
another state, that state's punishment must satisfy the
State attempts to circumvent the omission of the Illinois
penalty statute by asking us to take judicial notice of that
statute. In the State's view, the law was
"sufficiently pled . . . by plain designation" to
warrant this procedure. See Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.415.
To the contrary, the State did ...