review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Kevin A.
Parker, District Associate Judge.
appeals from the judgment and sentence for the crime of
making a false report and from revocation of probation.
DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT
JUDGMENT AND SENTENCE AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender (until withdrawal), and
Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, Doug Eichholz, County Attorney, and Bobbier
A. Cranston, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
appeal, we primarily consider whether the district court
properly assessed court costs and court-appointed attorney
fees in the prosecution of a multicount trial information
when one of the counts resulted in a conviction based on a
plea of guilty and the other counts were dismissed. On our
review, we explain and modify our rule relating to the
equitable apportionment of fees and court costs in criminal
cases and conclude the district court properly assessed all
of the court costs in the case against the defendant. We also
hold that the amount of court-appointed attorney fees
assessed against the defendant must be determined before the
sentencing court determines the reasonable amount the
defendant is able to pay. Accordingly, we vacate the decision
of the court of appeals, affirm the judgment and sentence of
the district court in part, reverse in part, and remand for
resentencing on restitution for court-appointed attorney
Background Facts and Proceedings.
McMurry was charged by a trial information filed on June 24,
2016, with the crimes of false report of an incendiary
explosive device in violation of Iowa Code section 712.7
(2016), threats to place an incendiary or explosive device in
violation of section 712.8, and harassment in violation of
section 708.7(1) and (2). The charges stemmed from an
incident on June 14, 2016, while McMurry was serving a term
of probation imposed by a deferred judgment for the crimes of
child endangerment and interference with official acts. On
August 24, 2016, the State dismissed the harassment charge,
and the case subsequently proceeded to trial on the false
report and threats crimes.
day of trial, McMurry reached a plea agreement with the
State. The agreement required McMurry to enter into an
Alford plea of guilty to the false report charge,
and the State would dismiss the threats charge. The plea
agreement did not cover payment of court costs. The district
court subsequently accepted the guilty plea. McMurry also
stipulated to the violation of his probation.
appeared in court on October 3, 2016, for sentencing on the
crime of making a false report and for a hearing on the
revocation of probation. The district court sentenced him to
a five-year indeterminate term of incarceration for the crime
of false report and imposed a two-year indeterminate term of
incarceration for the crimes of child endangerment and
interference after revoking the deferred judgment. It ordered
the two sentences to run consecutively. The district court
then suspended the terms of incarceration and placed him on
probation. One term of probation required McMurry to reside
at the Fort Des Moines Residential Facility. The court also
ordered McMurry to pay restitution, including court costs and
court-appointed attorney fees. The provision in the
sentencing order relating to restitution provided for the
payment of "court costs in the amount" to be
determined "(clerk to assess)." The provision
relating to attorney fees included a finding by the
sentencing court that McMurry had "the reasonable
ability to pay" the fees and costs, but the amount of
fees was left open for a later determination.
days following sentencing, the clerk of court issued a docket
report. The report assessed court costs totaling $220,
consisting of the trial information filing and docketing fee
of $100 and three separate court reporter fees of $40 for the
arraignment and bond review hearing, guilty plea hearing, and
appealed from the judgment and sentence, and raised four
claims of error. First, he claimed his trial counsel was
ineffective for allowing him to enter a plea of guilty to
child endangerment without a factual basis. Second, he
claimed the district court erred in ordering him to complete
the Fort Des Moines Residential Facility program as a term of
probation. Third, he claimed the district court imposed an
illegal sentence by ordering him to pay costs associated with
counts of the trial information that were dismissed by the
State. Finally, he claimed the district court erred in
assessing court-appointed attorney fees before the amount of
the fees was known.
transferred the case to the court of appeals. The court of
appeals affirmed the judgment and sentence of the district
court. It held that a factual basis supported the plea of
guilty to child endangerment and that the district court did
not abuse its discretion when imposing the terms of
probation. It also held that the court costs assessed to
McMurry were attributed to the count of conviction and
declined to address the attorney-fee claim without a final
determination of the total fees. McMurry sought, and we
granted, further review.
further review, we vacate the decision of the court of
appeals, but consider only two of the issues raised. We
consider whether the district court imposed an illegal
sentence by failing to assess court costs proportionately
between the count that resulted in the conviction and the two
counts dismissed. We also consider whether the district court
erred in assessing attorney fees before the amount had been
determined. We otherwise agree with the court of appeals
decision and summarily hold that the district court did not
err in finding a factual basis to support McMurry's plea
of guilty to the crime of child endangerment and did not
abuse its discretion in ordering placement at the Fort Des
Moines Residential Facility as a term of probation.
the issues considered on further review, we conclude the
district court did not err in ordering McMurry to pay court
costs, but erred in finding he had the ability to pay
attorney fees before the amount had been determined.
Therefore, we vacate the decision of the court of appeals,
reverse the sentence ...