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State v. Hanson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 18, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHRISTOPHER HANSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Karen A. Romano (plea) and Paul D. Scott (sentencing), Judges.

         A defendant appeals his indeterminate forty-five-year prison sentence following his guilty pleas to six current offenses and the revocation of his probation for six prior convictions.

          Jessica A. Millage of Flanagan Law Group, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli A. Huser, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         The district court sentenced Christopher Hanson to a prison term not to exceed forty-five years. Hanson raises two challenges related to his sentence. First, he claims his attorney should have asked to postpone the sentencing hearing after the State revealed Hanson's no-contact-order violations. Second, Hanson contends the district court-when revoking his probation for prior felony convictions-abused its discretion by not considering the possibility of imposing concurrent, rather than consecutive, sentences for those offenses.

         Because Hanson cannot show his attorney breached a duty by not seeking a continuance or that prejudice resulted, his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel fails. As for his second claim, because Hanson's direct appeal reaches only the new offenses, we lack jurisdiction to consider the sentence tied to the probation revocation.[1]

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Hanson and E.F. have a child in common and lived together. After Hanson assaulted E.F., she left their shared residence and moved in with her parents. Hanson did not "take the break up well" and threatened to kill E.F. at her parents' home in September 2015. Out of an abundance of caution, E.F. went to stay with her grandparents and was not at her parents' home during the following incident: Around 9 p.m., E.F.'s father was making sure their doors and windows were locked when he smelled cigarette smoke. Nobody in the family smoked. Checking for the source, the father found Hanson hiding in a bedroom closet in the basement. Hanson-armed with a large knife-pushed the father and ran out the door. Inside the closet, E.F.'s parents found a duffle bag stuffed with cash and jewelry belonging to E.F.'s mother.

         In connection with this incident, the State originally charged Hanson with first-degree burglary, a class "B" felony, in violation of Iowa Code sections 713.1 and 713.3 (2015). The court issued a no-contact order protecting E.F. and members of her family. The matter was set for trial in January 2017, and a jury was selected. But before the State presented evidence, it reached a plea agreement with Hanson. Hanson entered Alford pleas[2] to five offenses: (1) second-degree burglary, a class "C" felony, in violation of Iowa Code sections 713.1 and 713.5; (2) assault while participating in a felony, a class "D" felony, in violation of sections 708.1(2)(b) and 708.3; (3) first-degree harassment, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of section 708.7(1) and (2); (4) third-degree theft, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of sections 714.1 and 714.2(3); and (5) fourth-degree criminal mischief, a serious misdemeanor, in violation of sections 716.1 and 716.6. He also pleaded guilty to a sixth crime-suborning perjury, a class "D" felony, in violation of section 720.3.[3]

         The plea-taking court informed Hanson he could face up to twenty-five years in prison for the six counts. At the time of the plea hearing, Hanson was on probation and faced another thirty years in prison if his probation was revoked- for a maximum prison term of fifty-five years. Under the plea agreement, the parties planned to jointly recommend consecutive terms, which would be suspended; Hanson would be on probation for five years, and as a condition of his probation, he would receive treatment at Bridges of Iowa, a substance-abuse program. The plea order provided, "On any new criminal charge or violation of this order, established by a preponderance of evidence, the State is not bound by this agreement."

         At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor told the court Hanson "decided to throw this plea deal away" by violating the criminal protective order 296 times since the plea hearing. The prosecutor then shared the two options he had presented to Hanson: (1) the State could charge 296 counts of violating the no-contact order and ask for sentencing to be continued or (2) Hanson could admit repeatedly calling E.F. from the Polk County jail, knowing she was the protected party, thereby relieving the State of its obligation to recommend probation under the plea agreement. Under the second option, the State agreed to forego filing new charges. Hanson decided to acknowledge that he violated the no-contact order by calling E.F. on the telephone.

         The prosecutor recommended the six sentences run consecutively for a total period of incarceration not to exceed twenty-five years. The prosecutor noted Hanson was on probation for "six class 'D' felonies, five forgeries, and one theft, second." The prosecutor continued, "When the first time we had thirty years hanging around this defendant's neck at the time that he got out of jail, and what did he do? He continued to use drugs and continued to commit crimes. That sentence did not deter Mr. Hanson whatsoever." The State also asked the district court ...


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