from the Iowa District Court for Cedar County, Stuart P.
defendant challenges the sentence imposed upon his conviction
for animal neglect resulting in death.
J. Viner of Viner Law Firm, PC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
Worby pleaded guilty to animal neglect, resulting in death, a
serious misdemeanor, in violation of Iowa Code sections
717B.1 and 717B.3 (2017), after his dog died of bacterial
sepsis. The district court sentenced Worby to 180 days in
jail with 90 days suspended and imposed two special terms and
conditions of probation. First, the district court required
Worby to undergo a psychological evaluation and complete any
recommended treatment. Second, the district court prohibited
Worby from owning or possessing animals and from having
animals in his residence. In this appeal, Worby challenges
his sentence. He contends the district court abused its
discretion in denying his request for a deferred judgment,
imposed unlawful special terms and conditions of probation,
and denied him the right of allocution at sentencing.
first address Worby's contention the district court
should have granted his request for deferred judgment. Our
review of the district court's sentencing determination
is for an abuse of discretion. "An abuse of discretion
is found when the court exercises its discretion on grounds
clearly untenable or to an extent clearly unreasonable."
State v. Barnes, 791 N.W.2d 817, 827 (Iowa 2010);
accord State v. Craig, 562 N.W.2d 633, 634 (Iowa
cannot conclude the district court abused its discretion in
denying Worby's request for deferred judgment. The
district court recognized it had the discretion to select
among several statutorily-authorized sentences. The district
court considered relevant factors in selecting and imposing
sentence, and it did not consider any impermissible factors.
Here, the district court considered the facts and
circumstances of the offense and the defendant's
employment and mental-health history, among other things,
stating, "The fact that you were unemployed and
depressed does not make you the victim in this case. The
victim is this poor dog that starved to death lying in its
own excrement, starving day by day until it died." The
sentence imposed is authorized by statute. While the
defendant may wish the district court would have reached a
different result in considering the relevant sentencing
factors, mere disagreement with the court's sentencing
decision is not a ground for relief. See State v.
Sweat, No. 16-0437, 2017 WL 702366, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App.
Feb. 22, 2017).
next contends the district court's special terms and
conditions of probation are unlawful. The Code provides
probationers may be subject to any "reasonable
conditions which the court . . . may impose to promote
rehabilitation of the defendant or protection of the
community." Iowa Code § 907.6. A condition promotes
a defendant's rehabilitation or protects the community if
the condition "addresses some problem or need identified
with the defendant." State v. Valin, 724 N.W.2d
440, 446 (Iowa 2006). A condition is reasonable when it is
not arbitrary and there is a "reasonable nexus"
between the crime and the condition. See State v.
Lathrop, 781 N.W.2d 288, 299 (Iowa 2010) ("[A]
reasonable nexus must exist between any special condition of
probation and the crime for which it is imposed.");
State v. Hauck, No. 16-0858, 2017 WL 4049326, at *3
(Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 13, 2017).
special condition of probation requiring Worby to obtain a
mental-health evaluation is reasonable under the
circumstances presented. First, the legislature has signaled
the propriety of requiring psychological evaluations for
persons convicted of animal torture. See Iowa Code
§ 717B.3.A(3)(a)(1). While this case involves animal
neglect rather than torture, the close relationship between
the two offenses demonstrates the requirement is not
arbitrary as applied here. Second, there is a reasonable
nexus between the specific crime at issue in this case and
the special condition of probation. During the sentencing
hearing, Worby specifically stated his mental-health
condition was a contributing factor to the crime. He also
specifically stated he may need "more help" and
"counseling" to overcome his mental-health
condition. It was thus reasonable for the district court to
impose a special condition of probation facilitating
necessary mental-health treatment.
conclude the special condition of probation prohibiting Worby
from owning and possessing animals and from having animals in
his residence is a reasonable condition of probation. The
most relevant case is State v. Harrington, No.
15-1955, 2016 WL 3276947, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. June 15,
2016). In that case, the defendant pleaded guilty to animal
torture, and the district court imposed a special condition
of probation prohibiting him from having animals in his home
or in his care. See id. at *1. On appeal, the
defendant challenged the condition, and this court held the
condition was reasonable because it would provide for the
defendant's "rehabilitation while protecting the
community's interest in stopping animal abuse."
Id. at *3. Similarly, in this case, the special
condition advances the community's interest in preventing
animal neglect resulting in death. The condition is
particularly relevant here given the defendant stated his
mental-health condition, rather than his bad intent, caused
him to neglect his animal to the point the animal died.
Prohibiting the defendant from possessing animals or living
where animals are possessed thus serves as a reasonable
prophylactic measure against his future commission of
next contends the district court denied him the right of
allocution. More specifically, Worby contends the district
court had already reached a sentencing decision prior to the
defendant's allocution, which worked as an effective
denial of the right. It is not disputed the district court
must afford the defendant the right of allocution.
See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.23(3)(a), (d) (providing,
before the district court pronounces judgment, the defendant
must "be asked whether the defendant has any legal cause
to show why judgment should not be pronounced against the
defendant" and "be allowed to address the court . .
. to make a statement in mitigation of punishment"). The
district court need not invoke specific words to afford the
defendant the right of allocution. "[A]s long as the
district court provides the defendant with an opportunity to
speak regarding his punishment, the court is in compliance
with the rule." State v. Nosa, 738 N.W.2d 658,
660 (Iowa Ct. App. 2007); State v. Pierce, No.
17-0659, 2018 WL 347737, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 10, 2018).
the district court did not deny the defendant the right of
allocution. The ...