from the Iowa District Court for Henry County, John M.
defendant challenges her conviction and sentence for arson in
the second degree.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Maria L. Ruhtenberg,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
direct appeal, Carmen Ledesma challenges her conviction and
sentence for arson in the second degree, in violation of Iowa
Code sections 712.1(1) and 712.3 (2017). On appeal, Ledesma
contends her guilty plea lacked a factual basis and her
conviction must be vacated. She also contends the district
court's order of restitution is not supported by the
evidence. We address each claim in turn.
first address the defendant's challenge to her guilty
plea. As a general rule, "[a] defendant's failure to
challenge the adequacy of a guilty plea proceeding by motion
in arrest of judgment shall preclude the defendant's
right to assert such challenge on appeal." Iowa R. Crim.
P. 2.24(3)(a). It is not disputed Ledesma failed to file a
motion in arrest of judgment. Thus, her direct challenge to
her guilty plea is barred.
acknowledges her direct challenge to her guilty plea is
barred, but she indirectly asserts her challenge within the
framework of a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
See State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 132-33 (Iowa
2006) (holding the failure to file a motion in arrest of
judgment "does not bar a challenge to a guilty plea if
the failure to file a motion in arrest of judgment resulted
from ineffective assistance of counsel"). Although a
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is frequently
categorized as an exception to error preservation rules, that
categorization is not entirely accurate. "Ineffective
assistance of counsel . . . is a stand-alone constitutional
claim attacking the performance of a criminal defendant's
counsel." State v. Johnson, 416 P.3d 443, 451
(Utah 2017). "While such a claim necessarily requires
the court to look at the substantive issue the defendant
argues his counsel should have raised, and whether the
substantive issue had any merit, the substantive issue is
only viewed through the lens of counsel's
performance." Id. Typically, this court, as a
court of error correction, would not address a claim not
presented to the district court or an error not preserved in
the district court. See Iowa Code § 602.5103(1)
(providing the court of appeals "constitutes a court for
correction of errors at law"); Meier v.
Senecaut, 641 N.W.2d 532, 537 (Iowa 2002) ("It is a
fundamental doctrine of appellate review that issues must
ordinarily be both raised and decided by the district court
before we will decide them on appeal."). However, the
Code specifically authorizes this court to address a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal from
criminal proceedings. See Iowa Code § 814.7(2)
("A party may, but is not required to, raise an
ineffective assistance claim on direct appeal from the
criminal proceedings if the party has reasonable grounds to
believe that the record is adequate to address the claim on
direct appeal."). Because the Code authorizes our review
of a constitutional claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel on direct appeal from a criminal proceeding, we
proceed to the merits.
person claiming that her trial attorney was ineffective,
depriving her of her Sixth Amendment right to counsel, must
show that (1) counsel failed to perform an essential duty,
and (2) prejudice resulted therefrom." Taylor v.
State, 352 N.W.2d 683, 684-85 (Iowa 1984) (altered for
readability). A defendant must prove these elements by a
preponderance of the evidence. See id. at 685.
"Where a factual basis for a charge does not exist, and
trial counsel allows the defendant to plead guilty anyway,
counsel has failed to perform an essential duty."
State v. Schminkey, 597 N.W.2d 785, 788
(Iowa 1999). Prejudice is inherent where the guilty plea is
not supported by a factual basis. See id.
court . . . shall not accept a plea of guilty without first
determining that the plea is made voluntarily and
intelligently and has a factual basis." Iowa R. Crim. P.
2.8(2)(b); accord State v. Ortiz, 789 N.W.2d 761,
767 (Iowa 2010). In determining whether a guilty plea has a
factual basis, "this jurisdiction has no requirement
that [the] trial court must in all cases wring from defendant
a detailed confession satisfying each element of the offense
charged." State v. Hansen, 221 N.W.2d 274, 276
(Iowa 1974). The court can find a factual basis by "(1)
inquiring of the defendant, (2) inquiring of the prosecutor,
and (3) examining the presentence report." State v.
Finney, 834 N.W.2d 46, 56 (Iowa 2013). In addition, the
district court may look to the minutes of evidence where the
minutes are acknowledged during the plea colloquy. See
id. at 57. The relevant inquiry is whether the record
before the district court supports a factual basis for each
element of the offense. See Rhoades v. State, 848
N.W.2d 22, 29 (Iowa 2014); State v. Amadeo, No.
11-1426, 2012 WL 2122262, at *3-4 (Iowa Ct. App. June 13,
2012) (collecting cases).
to the elements of the offense. The Code defines arson as
Causing a fire or explosion, or placing any burning or
combustible material, or any incendiary or explosive device
or material, in or near any property with the intent to
destroy or damage such property, or with the knowledge that
such property will probably be destroyed or damaged, is
arson, whether or not any such property is actually destroyed
or damaged. Provided, that where a person who owns said
property which the defendant intends to destroy or damage, or
which the defendant knowingly endangers, consented to the
defendant's acts, and where no insurer has been exposed
fraudulently to ...