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State v. Vonhofsteder

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILHELM VONHOFSTEDER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Edward A. Jacobson, Judge.

         Wilhelm VonHofsteder appeals his guilty pleas to three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and the sentences imposed. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Bradley M. Bender, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          MULLINS, Judge.

         Wilhelm VonHofsteder appeals his guilty pleas to three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and the sentences imposed. He contends, because his guilty pleas lacked a factual basis, his attorney rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion in arrest of judgment to challenge the pleas.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         This is VonHofsteder's second appellate challenge to his guilty pleas. In his first appeal, a panel of this court explained the procedural history of this matter as follows:

On November 2, 2015, Wilhelm VonHofsteder was charged in a twelve-count trial information with third-degree sexual abuse, indecent contact with a child, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, exhibition of obscene material to a minor, and eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor (possession of a visual medium depicting a minor child engaged in a prohibited sexual act). Pursuant to a plea agreement, VonHofsteder agreed to plead guilty to an amended charge of lascivious acts with a child (count 1) and three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor (counts 5, 6, 7). . . .
At a plea hearing, the prosecutor went over the terms of the written plea agreement and those terms were confirmed by the defendant and defense counsel, including that written pleas concerning the three sexual exploitation counts would be filed. VonHofsteder pled guilty to the charge of lascivious acts with a child. The court specifically found VonHofsteder's plea to the amended charge of lascivious acts with a child was made "voluntarily and intelligently and has a factual basis." Following that guilty plea hearing, VonHofsteder submitted his written guilty pleas to three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. A sentencing hearing was held, and the district court imposed consecutive sentences for a period not to exceed eleven years in prison.

State v. VonHofsteder, No. 16-0730, 2017 WL 1400895, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 19, 2017). VonHofsteder appealed, contending his "plea counsel provided ineffective assistance" concerning the sexual-exploitation-of-a-minor charges "in failing to ensure the district court . . . discharged its duty to ensure VonHofsteder's written pleas were made voluntarily and had factual bases" and in failing to file a motion in arrest of judgment to challenge the pleas on the same grounds. Id. at *1-2; see Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.8(2)(b).

         This court concluded the record failed "to show that the trial court made the required determinations that a factual basis existed for the written pleas or that the written pleas were voluntarily and intelligently entered" or accepted by the court and, as such, "it would be premature for us to determine if a factual basis existed for the pleas." VonHofsteder, 2017 WL 1400895, at *4. VonHofsteder's conviction was vacated and the case was remanded "for a determination of whether a factual basis existed for the written pleas and if they were freely and voluntarily entered." Id. The district court was directed that if it "determines there is a factual basis for the pleas and the pleas were voluntarily and intelligently entered, the court shall determine if the pleas should be accepted" and, if so, "the defendant shall be resentenced" but, if not, "the pleas shall be set aside and shall proceed as if no guilty plea[s] [were] tendered." Id.

         Procedendo issued on May 24, 2017. Without holding a hearing, on June 9, the district court entered judgment and sentence. In its written order, the court noted its careful review of the matter, including, but not limited to, the contents of VonHofsteder's written waiver of rights and guilty pleas, the plea agreement, and the contents of the minutes of evidence and its attachments. The court determined VonHofsteder's pleas to be "voluntarily and intelligently made, " ...


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