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State v. Tatum

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 11, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHARLES P. TATUM, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark J. Smith (motion to suppress and plea), and Paul L. Macek (sentencing), Judges.

         The defendant appeals his guilty pleas and sentences.

          Lauren M. Phelps, Davenport, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         Charles Tatum appeals from his guilty pleas and the resulting sentences. On appeal, Tatum claims: (1) the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress; (2) there is not a factual basis to support his guilty plea for assaulting a peace officer; (3) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to his guilty plea for assaulting a peace officer; and (4) the district court abused its discretion when it sentenced him to incarceration rather than deferring judgment.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Based on two separate events that occurred in July 2016, Tatum was charged by trial information with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (marijuana) and failure to affix a drug tax stamp (FECR378714), and carrying weapons (AGCR378826).

         On September 14, Tatum was a passenger in a car stopped by law enforcement officers. When the officers reached the vehicle, they could smell the odor of burnt marijuana. The officers searched the vehicle and found a grinder with marijuana residue and a marijuana cigarette; both were within the reach of Tatum's seat in the car. The officers advised Tatum they were going to place him under arrest for the marijuana cigarette, and Tatum fled on foot. Officers Tyler Gratz and Matthew Lovelady chased him. According to Officer Lovelady's report:

After a short foot pursuit, with my left hand I was able to get hold of Tatum's shirt and pull him towards me at the same time Officer Gratz was able to get hold of Tatum's shirt. While doing this, Tatum swung his body around and with his left hand and with a closed fist, struck me on the left side of my forehead.

         After Tatum was taken to the jail, 3.7 grams of crack cocaine were found in his sock. Tatum was charged with possession of a controlled substance (crack cocaine); assault on a peace officer; interference with official acts; and possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), second offense (FECR380147).

         Tatum filed a motion to suppress, arguing the warrantless search of the vehicle was illegal because the owner/driver of the vehicle had told the officers they could not search. Tatum maintained that if the officers had not searched the vehicle, they would not have stated they were arresting him for the found marijuana, and none of the other charges would have followed.

         The State filed a resistance to the motion, arguing Tatum lacked standing to challenge the validity of the search because as a passenger he did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy. Alternatively, the State claimed that even if Tatum had standing to challenge the search, the officers had probable cause for the search based on the smell of burnt marijuana emanating from the vehicle.

         At the hearing on the motion, Tatum stipulated that he was a passenger in the vehicle that was searched. The court denied Tatum's motion to suppress, stating:

[B]ased on the stipulation that the defendant was a passenger in the motor vehicle, the Court finds that he does not have standing and there's no reason to produce evidence because of the lack of standing to object to the search of a motor vehicle in which he was a passenger, and State v. Halliburton[1] clearly says that, and, therefore, the Court overrules the motion for that reason.

         Tatum reached a plea agreement with the State, which involved all three of the foregoing cases. The agreement provided that Tatum would plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance (crack cocaine); assault on a peace officer; possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (marijuana); and carrying weapons. The State would dismiss the rest of the charges and would make no recommendation at sentencing.

         On January 18, 2017, the district court accepted Tatum's plea in open court. Regarding Tatum's plea for assaulting a peace officer, the following exchange took place between the court and Tatum:

THE COURT: You're also pleading guilty to Count 2, assault on persons engaged in certain occupations, in violation of Iowa Code Section 708.3A(3) [(2016)]. Under that section it reads that: A person who commits an assault, as defined in section 708.1, against a peace officer, jailer, correctional staff, member or employee of the board of parole, health care provider, employee of the Department of Human Services, employee of the Department of Revenue, or firefighter, whether paid or volunteer, who knows that the person against whom the assault is committed is a peace officer, jailer, correctional staff, member or employee of the board of parole, health care provider, employee of ...

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