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State v. Carpenter

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ELLIS CHARLES CARPENTER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark R. Fowler, District Associate Judge.

         Ellis Carpenter appeals after pleading guilty to domestic abuse assault. AFFIRMED.

          Thomas J. O'Flaherty of O'Flaherty Law Firm, Bettendorf, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         Ellis Carpenter appeals the judgment and sentence entered after he pled guilty to domestic abuse assault, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.2A(3) (2017). Carpenter argues his counsel was ineffective by permitting him to plead guilty without a factual basis. We reject Carpenter's arguments and affirm the district courts judgment and sentence.

         The original trial information charged Carpenter with domestic abuse assault with the intent to inflict a serious injury, second offense, in violation of section 708.2A(3)(b), and as a habitual offender pursuant to sections 902.8 and 902.9. Subsequently, an amended and substituted trial information was filed omitting the reference to "with intent to inflict a serious injury," and instead referred to the offense as "Domestic Abuse Assault Second Offense (Aggravated Misdemeanor)." Also, the habitual offender sentencing enhancement was dropped. Carpenter entered a written guilty plea to the amended charge of domestic abuse assault second offense, an aggravated misdemeanor, and the court entered an order accepting the plea. In a subsequent sentencing order, the court again accepted Carpenter's plea, convicted him of the crime of second-offense domestic abuse assault in violation of sections 708.1 and 708.2A(3)(a), [1]and sentenced him pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement.

         The standard of review for guilty pleas resulting from counsel's ineffective assistance is de novo. See State v. Utter, 803 N.W.2d 647, 651 (Iowa 2011), overruled on other grounds by Schmidt v. State, 909 N.W.2d 778, 789 (Iowa 2018). "As with all ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims, [the defendant] must establish . . . counsel failed to perform an essential duty and prejudice resulted from such failure." Id. at 652 (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984)). Generally, we preserve claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for postconviction-relief proceedings to allow the record to be developed. See State v. Gomez Garcia, 904 N.W.2d 172, 186 (Iowa 2017); State v. Virgil, 895 N.W.2d 873, 879 (Iowa 2017). However, we may resolve the claim on direct appeal if the record before us is adequate. See Virgil, 895 N.W.2d at 879. Here, we conclude the record is adequate for review.

         Courts are required to determine whether a factual basis exists before accepting a plea. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.8(2)(b).

On a claim that a plea bargain is invalid because of a lack of accuracy on the factual-basis issue, the entire record before the district court may be examined. . . . Recourse to the entire record is appropriate because . . . the relevant inquiry . . . involves an examination of whether counsel performed poorly by allowing [the defendant] to plead guilty to a crime for which there was no objective factual basis in the record.

State v. Finney, 834 N.W.2d 46, 62 (Iowa 2013). "If an attorney allows a defendant to plead guilty to an offense for which there is no factual basis and to waive the right to file a motion in arrest of judgment, the attorney breaches an essential duty." State v. Philo, 697 N.W.2d 481, 485 (Iowa 2005). When this occurs, prejudice is inherent. See State v. Schminkey, 597 N.W.2d 785, 788 (Iowa 1999).

         Domestic abuse assault is an assault, as defined in section 708.1, which is domestic abuse as defined in section 236.2(2)(a), (b), (c), or (d). See Iowa Code § 708.2A(1). As relevant here, a person commits an assault when, without justification, the person does "[a]ny act which is intended to cause pain or injury to, or which is intended to result in physical contact which will be insulting or offensive to another, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act." Id. § 708.1(2)(a). "Domestic abuse," as is applicable to the offense of domestic abuse assault in this case, is an assault as defined in section 708.1 between household members who resided together at the time of the assault. Id. § 236.2(2)(a). Relevant here, "household members" is defined as "persons cohabitating." Id. § 236.2(4)(a). Sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same living quarters is one factor used to determine whether parties were cohabitating within the meaning of the domestic abuse statute. Virgil, 895 N.W.2d at 880 (citing State v. Kellogg, 542 N.W.2d 514, 518 (Iowa 1996)).

         Carpenter claims his counsel was ineffective by allowing him to plead guilty to domestic abuse assault without a factual basis because there is no clear evidence in the record showing that the assault occurred between household members residing together at the time of the assault. We disagree. In an affidavit attached to the original complaint, a police officer states "The defendant and the victim are in an intimate relationship together." The complaint form states the relationship is between "family/household members who have lived together within the last year." In the field case report attached to the trial information, the officer's narrative states that Ellis and the woman he assaulted were "in an intimate relationship[2] with each other and she stays with him in his camps around the city of Davenport." The minutes of evidence state that at the time of the incident, "[t]he pair were in an intimate relationship and living together." In his written guilty plea, Carpenter admitted there is a factual basis for the charge and that he "had intentional offensive contact with another, who ...


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