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State v. Steenhoek

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 26, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RONALD SKYLER STEENHOEK, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Timothy J. Finn, Judge.

         The defendant appeals his conviction and sentence for theft in the second degree.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Brenda J. Gohr, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Katherine M. Krickbaum, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Ronald Steenhoek appeals his conviction and sentence for theft in the second degree in violation of Iowa Code sections 714.1 and 714.2(2) (2017). Steenhoek argues the district court erred by assessing financial obligations to him without first making a determination of his reasonable ability to pay and abused its discretion when it sentenced him to five years' imprisonment.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In May 2017, Steenhoek was charged with two counts of first-degree robbery. In September, the State filed an amended trial information charging Steenhoek with one count of theft in the second degree. Steenhoek plead guilty to the amended charge. Pursuant to a plea agreement, both sides were permitted to recommend sentences but Steenhoek was required to pay a fine of $750 plus surcharges, additional fines and fees, restitution, and court costs.

         In October, the district court accepted Steenhoek's guilty plea and sentenced him. After hearing from the State and from Steenhoek, the district court sentenced Steenhoek to a prison term not to exceed five years and imposed the minimum fine of $750 plus surcharges, court costs, and attorney fees. The court gave the following rationale for its sentence:

When I looked at the PSI before I came in, I frankly-every judge makes kind of an initial call in their mind what they think is appropriate. I looked at your fairly lengthy criminal record and I have to say that prison seemed to me to be a logical choice to make.
I looked at the nature of the crime here. It appeared to me that it was particularly violent, although there was no one injured apparently, but to pull somebody over in a road and rob them essentially. I guess that wasn't the charge you pled guilty to but theft in the second degree, particularly violent. Okay.
So that kind of shifted me towards thinking prison was the appropriate sentence here.
Then I heard your side of this and you make a good argument why that ...

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