from the Iowa District Court for Decatur County, Sherman W.
defendant challenges her written guilty plea based on the
district court's failure to advise her of potential
R. Stockdale, Windsor Heights, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sharon K. Hall, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
Hellberg signed a written guilty plea, admitting she operated
a vehicle without the owner's consent. She now seeks
reversal of her conviction because the plea form did not
include the immigration advisory required by Iowa Rule of
Criminal Procedure 2.8(2)(b). Because the record is silent on
Hellberg's immigration status and her guilty plea did not
substantially comply with the rule, we reverse and remand to
the district court for further proceedings.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
December 28, 2016, Hellberg took her mother's Ford F150
truck without her mother's permission. The mother
reported the missing truck to the Decatur County
Sheriff's Office. Officers recovered the truck from
Hellberg several days later. The State charged Hellberg with
first-degree theft, a class "C" felony, in
violation of Iowa Code sections 714.1(2) and 714.2(1) (2016).
pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle without the owner's
consent, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of Iowa Code
section 714.7. In exchange, the State agreed to recommend a
sentence of sixteen days imprisonment with credit for sixteen
days served, as well as a suspended fine of $625 with a
thirty-five percent surcharge. Hellberg agreed to pay other
applicable surcharges, court costs, restitution, and fees.
Hellberg entered a written plea. The written form informed
Hellberg that any challenge to the guilty plea must be made
by motion in arrest of judgment, but the form did not include
the appeal consequences arising from a failure to file a
motion in arrest of judgment. The form also made no mention
of possible immigration consequences that could result from a
guilty plea. The district court accepted the plea, sentenced
Hellberg to time served, suspended the fine, and ordered her
to pay other related costs.
now appeals, contending her written guilty plea was deficient
because the court did not advise her that a conviction could
result in adverse immigration consequences. The State filed a
motion to affirm Hellberg's conviction, arguing this
appeal is "frivolous" because nothing in the
minutes of evidence or her appellate brief suggests Hellberg
is not a United States citizen or that the immigration
advisory "would have affected her decision to plead
guilty." Our supreme court denied the State's motion
and, after full briefing, transferred the appeal to us.
Scope and Standards of Review
review Hellberg's challenge to her guilty plea for the
correction of errors at law. See State v. Meron, 675
N.W.2d 537, 540 (Iowa 2004). To determine whether her plea
satisfies Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.8(2)(b), we look
for substantial compliance. See State v. Weitzel, __
N.W.2d__, __, 2017 WL 6545937, at *7 (Iowa 2017) (noting
preference for strict compliance, but acknowledging caselaw
has excused technical violations).