review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Peter B.
Newell, District Associate Judge.
State requests further review of a court of appeals decision
vacating defendant's guilty pleas.
A. Kuehner of Eggert, Erb, Mulcahy & Kuehner, P.L.L.C.,
Charles City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, Kevin Cmelik, Thomas E. Bakke,
and Jean C. Pettinger (until withdrawal), Assistant Attorneys
General, and Rachel Ginbey, County Attorney, for appellee.
defendant appealed from the judgment and sentences entered on
his guilty pleas to domestic abuse assault, possession of
methamphetamine, carrying weapons, and operating while
intoxicated. The defendant challenged the adequacy of his
guilty plea colloquy, arguing the district court did not
advise him about the statutory thirty-five percent criminal
penalty surcharges. He claimed the district court's
failure to disclose the surcharges invalidated his guilty
pleas. We transferred the case to our court of appeals. The
court of appeals held the district court did not
substantially comply with Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure
2.8(2)(b)(2) during the guilty plea colloquy because
it omitted information regarding the statutory thirty-five
percent surcharges. Based on the district court's
noncompliance, the court of appeals reversed.
State applied for further review, which we granted. On
further review, we hold the district court did not
substantially comply with rule 2.8(2)(b)(2) because
it failed to inform the defendant about the mandatory
thirty-five percent criminal penalty surcharges. Because of
the district court's noncompliance, the defendant is
entitled to withdraw his pleas. Therefore, we affirm the
decision of the court of appeals and remand the case to the
district court for further proceedings.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
March 11, 2016, the State filed a five-count trial
information charging Jason Gene Weitzel with various crimes.
In count I, the State charged him with domestic abuse assault
impeding the normal breathing or circulation of blood
resulting in bodily injury, a class "D" felony in
violation of Iowa Code sections 708.2A(1) and (5) (2015). In
count II, the State charged him with threat of terrorism, a
class "D" felony in violation of sections 708A.1
and .5. Count III charged him with possession of
methamphetamine (second offense), an aggravated misdemeanor
in violation of section 124.401(5). Count IV charged him with
carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor in violation of
section 724.4(1). Lastly, count V charged him with operating
while intoxicated (first offense), a serious misdemeanor in
violation of section 321J.2. On April 12, the State amended
the trial information to amend count II to intimidation with
a dangerous weapon, a class "D" felony in violation
of section 708.6.
agreed to plead guilty to four of the five charges. At the
plea hearing, the district court informed Weitzel of the
minimum and maximum fines applicable to each offense and
determined he understood the fines. However, the court
neither informed Weitzel of the mandatory thirty-five percent
criminal surcharge penalty applicable to each offense
pursuant to Iowa Code section 911.1 nor determined whether
Weitzel understood he would be subject to the section 911.1
surcharges. The court did inform Weitzel of the $100 domestic
abuse surcharge it was required to assess on count I and the
$125 law-enforcement-initiative surcharge it was required to
assess on count III. Additionally, the court did inform
Weitzel about the $10 drug abuse resistance education (DARE)
surcharge on count III but omitted this information on count
V.Weitzel acknowledged he understood he would
be subject to the disclosed surcharges. He entered guilty
pleas to counts I, III, IV, and V. In exchange for his plea,
the State dismissed count II.
written order following the sentencing hearing, the court
imposed on count I an indeterminate term not to exceed five
years and a fine of $750, plus the statutory thirty-five
percent surcharge and the $100 domestic abuse surcharge. For
count III, the court imposed an indeterminate term not to
exceed two years and a fine of $625, plus the statutory
thirty-five percent surcharge and the $125
law-enforcement-initiative surcharge. On count IV, the court
imposed an indeterminate term not to exceed two years and a
fine of $625, plus the statutory thirty-five percent
surcharge. Lastly, on count V, the court imposed a two-day
sentence in the county jail and a fine of $1250, plus the
statutory thirty-five percent surcharge and the $10 DARE
surcharge. The district court ordered Weitzel to serve the
sentences on counts I, III, and IV consecutively and the
two-day jail term on count V concurrently. The district court
also fully suspended the fines for three of the four counts,
specifically counts I, III, and IV.
30, Weitzel appealed the judgment and sentences. He sought to
vacate his convictions on the ground the plea hearing was
inadequate. Weitzel argued the district court did not
adequately advise him of the thirty-five percent surcharges
pursuant to section 911.1. He also contended the court
misinformed him that the maximum fine for count V was $1500
when it was actually $1250, failed to explain the fines could
be cumulative, and failed to disclose the $100 domestic abuse
surcharge on count I.
transferred the case to our court of appeals. The court of
appeals focused on error preservation and the surcharge
issues. It found the district court did not substantially
comply with Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure
2.8(2)(d), which requires the district court to
inform a defendant of both the necessity of filing a motion
in arrest of judgment to challenge any defects in the guilty
plea colloquy and the consequences of failing to file the
motion. Therefore, because the district court did not fully
advise Weitzel about the motion in arrest of judgment, the
court of appeals held Weitzel could challenge his pleas on
the surcharge issue, the court of appeals concluded the
district court's failure to inform Weitzel of the
thirty-five percent criminal penalty surcharges meant it did
not substantially comply with rule 2.8(2)(b)(2). The
court of appeals further held the proper remedy was to vacate
Weitzel's pleas and convictions, and remand the matter
for further proceedings.
State filed an application for further review, and we granted
it. The State explicitly states it does not contest the
ruling of the court of appeals that Weitzel may challenge his
pleas on direct appeal because of the district court's
failure to inform him of the need to file a motion in arrest
of judgment to challenge any defects in the plea proceeding.
As for the second issue, the State argues the district court
substantially complied with rule 2.8(2)(b)(2)
because it informed Weitzel of the maximum possible terms of
incarceration, the maximum possible fines, and other matters
listed in rule 2.8(2)(b).
reviewing an application for further review, we retain
discretion to review all the issues raised on appeal or in
the application for further review, or only a portion
thereof. Gits Mfg. Co. v. Frank, 855 N.W.2d 195, 197
(Iowa 2014). In exercising this discretion, we agree with the
court of appeals and the State's position in its
application for further review that Weitzel properly brought
a direct appeal of his pleas despite his counsel's
failure to file a motion in arrest of judgment. Accordingly,
we will let the court of appeals decision on this issue stand
as the final decision in this case. The only issue we will
address is the dispositive issue as to whether the
court's failure to inform Weitzel about the statutory
thirty-five percent surcharge applicable to each offense
invalidates his pleas.
Scope of Review.
review challenges to plea proceedings for correction of
errors at law. State v. Meron, 675 N.W.2d 537, 540
Discussion and Analysis.
Difference Between an Appeal Under the Rubric of Ineffective
Assistance of Counsel and a Direct Appeal of a Guilty
court rules require the court to inform a defendant at the
time of his or her plea that in order for the defendant to
challenge the plea, the defendant must file a motion in
arrest of judgment. Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.8(2)(d). If
the defendant fails to file a motion in arrest of judgment
after the court has informed the defendant of his or her
obligation to do so, he or she cannot directly appeal from
the guilty plea. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 132
(Iowa 2006); accord Iowa R. Crim. P.
2.24(3)(a). However, if the guilty plea resulted
from ineffective assistance of counsel, the defendant can
challenge the plea under the rubric of ineffective assistance
of counsel. Straw, 709 N.W.2d at 133.
challenging a plea under the rubric of ineffective assistance
of counsel, the defendant satisfies the prejudice prong if he
or she can show "there is a reasonable probability that,
but for counsel's errors, he or she would not have
pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to
trial." Id. at 138. This usually requires the
defendant to bring a postconviction-relief action to meet his
or her burden of proving prejudice. Id.
other hand, when the court does not fully advise the
defendant of his or her right to file a motion in arrest of
judgment, the defendant may file a direct appeal challenging
his or her guilty plea. State v. Fisher, 877 N.W.2d
676, 680-81 (Iowa 2016). The State acknowledges the district
court did not properly inform Weitzel of his obligation to
file a motion in arrest of judgment to challenge his guilty
pleas. Thus, we will review the plea proceeding as a direct
Due Process and Rule-Based Claims Challenging Guilty Pleas on
we address the merits of Weitzel's case, we first clarify
the analysis used by the court of appeals in differentiating
between a due process challenge and a rule-based claim. The
line dividing these two types of claims is not always clear.
In a number of cases, a defendant may bring a hybrid due
process and rule-based claim, arguing that his or her guilty
plea was not entered voluntarily because the district court
failed to substantially comply with rule 2.8(2)(b).
court of appeals erroneously reasoned State v.
Finney, 834 N.W.2d 46 (Iowa 2013), distinguished between
a due process challenge and a challenge to the adequacy of a
plea proceeding. Finney emphasized the difference
between a due-process challenge to a plea and a claim based
on the lack of a factual basis. Finney, 834 N.W.2d
at 61- 62 (distinguishing between delving into the
defendant's subjective state of mind for a due process
voluntariness claim and examining whether there was an
objective factual basis in the record). We noted that
similarly in State v. Rodriguez, 804 N.W.2d 8444,
853 (Iowa 2011), the defendant "had not challenged the
sufficiency of the plea colloquy, which would
have raised a due process voluntariness issue, but only
the factual basis for the plea." Finney, 834
N.W.2d at 60 (emphasis added).
bifurcation in all circumstances between due process and
rule-based claims would defy our caselaw. In fact, the
procedural safeguards of rule 2.8(2)(b) facilitate
the process of more accurately evaluating the voluntariness
of a defendant's plea. See State v. Loye, 670
N.W.2d 141, 151 (Iowa 2003) ("Rule 2.8(2)(b)
codifies [the] due process mandate."). In State v.
Sisco, 169 N.W. 542 (Iowa 1969), we laid out four basic
requirements before the district court could enter a
conviction on the basis of a plea: the defendant must (1)
understand the charge, (2) be aware of the penal consequences
of the plea, (3) enter the plea voluntarily, and (4) the
district court must determine whether a factual basis exists
for the plea. Sisco, 169 N.W.2d at 547-48 (Iowa
1969); accord Finney, 834 N.W.2d at 56.
rule-based claim, as the court of appeals coined it, that the
colloquy was defective because the district court violated
rule 2.8(2)(b)(2) by failing to inform him of the
thirty-five percent surcharges, is another way of saying the
district court failed to adequately address the penal
consequences of his plea. Noncompliance with this second
requirement of Sisco implicates the third
requirement of Sisco involving voluntariness.
See Finney, 834 N.W.2d at 57 ("Compliance with
the remaining Sisco requirement, voluntariness, was
only implicated to the extent it was affected by . . .
noncompliance with the first two Sisco
court of appeals opined because the claims are separate and
distinct, a defendant may voluntarily, knowingly, and
intelligently plead guilty even though the colloquy does not
substantially comply with rule 2.8(2)(b). The court
of appeals provided, as an example, the district court's
failure to advise a defendant of the minimum and maximum
prison sentences would have no effect on the voluntary nature
of the guilty plea when the defendant's counsel had
advised the defendant of the sentences off the record prior
to the proceeding. However, a rule-based claim necessarily
entails due process concerns when the district court does not
meet the substantial compliance test, even if the defendant
knew about the relevant matters listed in rule
2.8(2)(b). See Loye, 670 N.W.2d at 153-54.
Loye, even though the defendant's attorney
advised the defendant about the punishments that could be
imposed, we vacated the defendant's convictions and
allowed her to plead anew because the district court did not
fulfill its obligation of confirming she understood the
nature of the charges or the maximum possible punishments.
Id. Thus, we presumed the defendant's plea was
not voluntary because the district court did not
substantially comply with the rules. Id. At first
glance, it appears the defendant in Loye brought a
rule-based claim, but her claim necessarily entailed due
process concerns strictly based on the district court's
noncompliance, even if she, in actuality, knew about the
punishments prior to the plea hearing.
the court of appeals reasoned, the district court may fully
comply with rule 2.8(2)(b) but nevertheless fail to
comport with due process. The court of appeals illustrated a
scenario in which the defendant was under the influence of
medications that hampered his or her ability to understand
the proceedings. We agree a defendant may have a viable due
process challenge without alleging violations of rule
2.8(2)(b). See Stovall v. State, 340 N.W.2d
265, 266-67 (Iowa 1983). We note rule 2.8(2)(b)
embodies procedural safeguards that attempt to ensure the
defendant enters his or her guilty plea knowingly and
intelligently-it does not guarantee ...