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State v. Shears

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 6, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
DARRYL B. SHEARS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mary E. Howes, Judge.

         A defendant appeals an order requiring him to pay restitution. AFFIRMED.

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

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli A. Huser, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., McDonald, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]


         In this appeal of a restitution order, we are asked to resolve whether it is foreseeable that police officers would end a high-speed chase of the van driven by Darryl Shears by hitting his van with their police vehicles. Because we find such actions foreseeable, we affirm the restitution order.

         On February 11, 2016, the City of Davenport filed a restitution claim for $7093.88 for damages to the police vehicles sustained during the officers' efforts to stop the van Shears was driving. In April 2016, the State and Shears entered into a plea agreement, and Shears agreed to plead guilty to a lesser-included eluding charge and second-degree criminal mischief as charged.[1]

         At the April 8, 2016 plea hearing, Shears admitted to intentionally damaging other people's property in excess of $1000 and failing to stop when signaled to do so by a uniformed officer in a marked patrol car using flashing lights and sirens while exceeding twenty-five miles per hour. The court deferred acceptance of the pleas pending receipt of a presentence investigation report and set sentencing for May 19, 2016. But before the hearing, Shears filed a motion in arrest of judgment on May 4, asking the court to set aside his pleas and claiming he was not aware "of the potential consequence [of] restitution for both counts." After the May hearing on his motion, the court found Shears had "buyer's remorse" and denied relief.

         On July 26, 2016, the court sentenced Shears to five-year and two-year consecutive, indeterminate terms of incarceration. The court also required "a victim restitution hearing be held within the next [thirty] days." At that August 24 hearing, Shears did not challenge the dollar amount of restitution, only whether he was responsible for paying it. The court's September 16, 2016 restitution order required Shears to pay "$7093.88 for damage to Davenport Police Squad Cars. The squad cars were damaged when the police were chasing [Shears] by car for his eluding and criminal mischief crimes, which he later" pled to and was sentenced on.

         Shears filed a pro se notice of appeal on September 28, 2016. On February 1, 2017, the supreme court's order noted Shears had timely appealed the September 16, 2016 restitution order and granted Shears a delayed appeal from the July 26, 2016 sentencing order, combining the appeals under the same docket number.

         In this restitution proceeding, if we find no error of law, we are bound by the district court's factual findings if they are supported by substantial evidence. See State v. Bonstetter, 637 N.W.2d 161, 165 (Iowa 2001). Restitution connotes "compensating the victim for loss, " and it "forces the offender to answer directly for the consequences of his or her actions." Id. The rationale for a restitution order under Iowa criminal law "is similar to the rationale of tort under civil law." Id. Iowa law requires restitution to be ordered in all criminal cases in which the defendant pleads guilty. See Iowa Code § 910.2 (2015).

         "Any damages that are causally related to the criminal activities may be included in the restitution order." Bonstetter, 637 N.W.2d at 168. Thus, in calculating the amount of restitution, the court "must find a causal connection between the established criminal act and the injuries to the victim" by a preponderance of the evidence. Id.; State v. Holmberg, 449 N.W.2d 276, 377 (Iowa 1989) (noting the same restitution requirements).

         On appeal and citing to cases from Wisconsin, Shears argues his "act of eluding itself did not cause the damage" to the police vehicles. "Instead, it was the actions of the Davenport police" "in carrying out their attempts to stop him" that caused the "damage to the police vehicles." See State v. Haase, 716 N.W.2d 526, 527, 530 (Wisc. Ct. App. 2006) (denying restitution where officer drove squad car into field during pursuit, officer stopped car without incident to pursue defendant on foot, and officer's car subsequently burst into flames); State v. Storlie, 647 N.W.2d 926, 929 (Wisc. Ct. App. 2002) (denying restitution for the cost of destroyed "stop sticks" utilized to end high-speed chase ...

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