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State v. Clemons

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 22, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
QUINTIN D. CLEMONS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark J. Smith and Paul L. Macek, Judges.

         Quintin Clemons appeals after pleading guilty, challenging the factual basis for his felony-eluding conviction.

          Mark C. Smith, Appellate Defender, and Shellie L. Knipfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl Soich, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE

         Quintin Clemons appeals following his guilty plea to operating without owner's consent, felony eluding, and trafficking in stolen weapons. Clemons claims his trial counsel was ineffective in permitting him to plead guilty to felony eluding when the record did not support a factual basis for the charge. Because Clemons specifically denied an element of that offense at the plea hearing, the State did not establish a factual basis for the plea, and Clemons's trial counsel was therefore ineffective in permitting him to plead guilty. We therefore vacate his sentences and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On July 6, 2016, Clemons was driving in excess of the posted speed limit on a city street in Davenport. As soon as police officers gave pursuit of Clemons, he sped away. At one point, Clemons was traveling ninety miles per hour in a twenty-five-miles-per-hour zone. Clemons lost control of his car, crashed it, and fled the scene. While investigating the abandoned car, officers located an Illinois ID card belonging to Clemons, live ammunition, a .45 caliber pistol, and marijuana. Security camera video shows Clemons fleeing the scene.

         The State charged Clemons with first-degree theft, felony eluding, trafficking in stolen weapons, carrying weapons, felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of marijuana. Pursuant to a written plea agreement, Clemons pled guilty to operating without owner's consent, felony eluding, and trafficking in stolen weapons. The State agreed to dismiss the remaining charges.

         On January 18, 2017, the district court held a hearing on the plea. The court accepted Clemson's written plea of operating without owner's consent. During the plea colloquy for the felony-eluding charge, and after explaining the elements of the offense, the court asked Clemons what he had done to commit the crime of felony eluding. After an off-the-record discussion with his plea counsel, Clemons responded that he "was drinking, riding around; and there wasn't a marked squad car, it was unmarked; I guess [the police officer] hit his lights, and I proceeded to speed off." The court asked if he knew it was a police officer, and Clemons responded, "Yes." When asked if the officer turned on his siren, Clemons said, "No sir. I just seen the lights." Clemons admitted he knew it was a squad car, that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time, and that he exceed the speed limit by twenty-five miles per hour or more. The prosecutor was asked for any other factual basis. The prosecutor stated he had watched the squad car video and it indicated the officer did turn on his siren and lights. The court asked Clemons if he had any objection to the factual statement by the prosecutor, and Clemons responded, "No objections." The court found a factual basis for Clemons's plea, found Clemons entered the plea knowingly and voluntarily, and accepted Clemons's guilty plea to felony eluding.

         The district court sentenced Clemons to a term not to exceed two years in prison on the operating-without-consent charge and terms of no more than five years on the eluding and trafficking charges. The court ordered Clemons to serve the eluding and trafficking sentences consecutively to each other and concurrently to the operating-without-consent sentence.

         On appeal, Clemons claims his plea counsel was ineffective by allowing him to plead guilty to felony eluding when no factual basis existed in the record to support the conviction.

         II. ...


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