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State v. Montes

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 21, 2018

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

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Delaware County, Stephanie C. Rattenborg, District Associate Judge.

         The defendant appeals from his guilty plea and sentence.

          Sharon Hallstoos of Hallstoos Law Office, Dubuque, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         Charles Montes was charged with third-degree burglary, as a habitual offender, in violation of Iowa Code sections 713.1, 713.6A, 703.1, and 902.9 (2015). Montes submitted an Alford plea and was convicted. On appeal, Montes argues his counsel was ineffective for allowing him to plead guilty without a factual basis. Montes also argues the court improperly applied the habitual offender enhancement.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Christopher White, Montes's son-in-law, confessed to burglarizing the Fish Shack, a pet food store. White told law enforcement that Montes drove him to the site and was his lookout. White returned to Montes's vehicle with stolen cash, a cash box, and bank bags; White was covered in insulation residue after using a tire iron to gain access to the establishment through a boarded up window. Montes drove White to a remote location to hide the tire iron and empty cash box.

         Montes was charged in January 2017. In April 2017, he pled guilty to aiding and abetting a burglary. Later in April, Montes filed a pro se motion in arrest of judgment, claiming he received inadequate counsel at the plea hearing. He later filed a pro se motion for new counsel. The court held a hearing on both motions in May. At the hearing, Montes's only argument on the motion in arrest of judgment was that his plea was not voluntarily and intelligently made.

         The district court overruled Montes's motion in arrest of judgment, finding Montes failed to allege a defect in the proceeding and his plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily. At the same hearing, Montes was sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed fifteen years, with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years.

         II. Discussion.

         Montes argues the district court failed to comply with Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.8(2)(b) when it accepted his guilty plea without ensuring that it was voluntarily and intelligently made and was supported by a factual basis. A factual basis argument was not raised in the motion in arrest of judgement or at the hearing on the motion. Montes argues his counsel was ineffective by not raising that claim in the motion. The State argues Montes has waived any ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims for failure to brief the issue.[1]

         Ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims are reviewed de novo. State v. Wills, 696 N.W.2d 20, 22 (Iowa 2005). To determine whether counsel was ineffective for allowing Montes to plead guilty, we must determine whether there was an adequate factual basis for Montes's guilty plea to aiding and abetting burglary. "A factual basis can be discerned from four sources: (1) inquiry of the defendant, (2) inquiry of the prosecutor, (3) examination of the presentence report, and (4) minutes of evidence." State v. Ortiz, 789 N.W.2d 761, 768 (Iowa 2010). "[T]he record does not need to show the totality of evidence necessary to support a guilty conviction, but it need only demonstrate facts that support the offense." Id. To prove Montes aided and abetted, ...


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