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State v. Dolan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAMES DAVID DOLAN, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark R. Lawson, Judge.

         A domestic-abuse defendant challenges his 180-day jail sentence. AFFIRMED.

          Dennis D. Jasper, Bettendorf, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         James Dolan appeals his jail sentence for domestic-abuse assault while displaying a dangerous weapon. The district court imposed a one-year term, suspending all but 180 days. Dolan asserts the court relied on improper factors and abused its discretion in deciding on the sentence. Because the record contradicts Dolan's assertions, we affirm his sentence.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Dolan's former girlfriend summarized the facts of the assault in her victim impact statement:

I thought the night of March 5th, 2016, would be a night to hang out with . . . friends. James turned this evening into a nightmare that I can never forget. The threat he made against my life was traumatic. I had never felt so unsafe. I was driving and had seen James'[s] car parked on the side of the road. I noticed he had pulled up behind me and blocked me in the driveway, so there was no way I could back out. I was trapped. He quickly got out of his car, and in my rearview mirror I noticed his daughter . . . was in the back seat. He forcefully opened my car door, and he was holding a knife. He said to me, "This is how easy it is for me to find you and hurt you."

         The State charged Dolan with domestic-abuse assault with a dangerous weapon, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.2A(2)(c) (2016). He was convicted of that aggravated misdemeanor following a bench trial.

         The presentence investigation (PSI) report recommended probation.[1] The defense endorsed that recommendation at the sentencing hearing. The State suggested Dolan serve 240 days in jail with all but thirty days suspended.

         In discussing the sentence with Dolan, the district court listed "several troubling things" about the case, namely, Dolan's criminal record, his use of a knife during the assault, the purposeful nature of his contact with the victim, [2] his decision to commit the assault while his seven-year-old daughter waited in his car, and his efforts "to get two of the State's witnesses to not come in and testify."

         The district court rejected the sentencing options urged by the PSI ...


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