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State v. Sifuentes

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 7, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
STEPHEN SIFUENTES, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica Wittig, Judge.

         A defendant appeals his sentence for stalking and extortion.

          Samuel A. Wooden of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sharon K. Hall, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Steven Sifuentes appeals his sentence for stalking, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.11(3)(c) (2017), and extortion, as a habitual offender in violation of Iowa Code section 711.4(1)(c) and 902.8. We find a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) was properly ordered and considered by the district court. We also find the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Sifuentes was charged with stalking, extortion, as a habitual offender, and invasion of privacy. He pleaded not guilty on March 2, 2017. A plea agreement was ultimately reached in which Sifuentes would serve five years imprisonment for extortion and two years for stalking. The State agreed to withdraw the habitual offender enhancement and dismiss the charge of invasion of privacy. The sentences would run consecutive to each other and consecutive with other Dubuque County charges. Sifuentes pleaded guilty on May 8.

         At the plea hearing, the district court conducted a full colloquy. The colloquy also encompassed charges of interference with official acts causing bodily injury and no-contact-order violations.[1] During the plea hearing, the district court stated, "I assume we'll order a PSI?" Trial counsel responded:

We're hoping that since he'd already had a PSI done in the Cerro Gordo case, that we could schedule [sentencing] in two weeks and then the victim would be available and hopefully they could just add these charges to his existing PSI.

         Another judge ordered the Cerro Gordo County PSI for use at a combined sentencing hearing. The PSI was obtained, and a copy was reviewed by the sentencing judge. The sentencing hearing took place June 12. The district court heard statements from the victim, prosecutor, defense counsel, and Sifuentes. The district court sentenced Sifuentes to two years in prison for stalking and five years in prison for extortion, to be served consecutively. The charges were also to run consecutively with a sentence resulting from the Cerro Gordo County convictions. Sifuentes now appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         If a sentence is within the statutory limits, we review a district court's sentencing decision for an abuse of discretion. State v. Seats, 865 N.W.2d 545, 552 (Iowa 2015). "Thus, our task on appeal is not to second-guess the decision made by the district court, but to determine if it was unreasonable or based on untenable grounds." Id. at 553. "In other words, the ...


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