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State v. Steffen

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CURT DOUGLAS STEFFEN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Mark T. Hostager, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant challenges his conviction for second-offense operating while intoxicated.

          Sharon D. Hallstoos, Dubuque, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas E. Bakke, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         Before the jury even convicted Curt Steffen of operating while intoxicated (OWI), the district court secured his waiver of a second trial to prove he had been previously convicted of OWI. Steffen stipulated he had an OWI conviction from 2010. Now, after judgment on his second offense, Steffen challenges the adequacy of the court's colloquy, which did not mention the prior OWI conviction was only valid for enhancement purposes if Steffen had been represented by counsel or knowingly waived the right to counsel. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.19(9). Steffen also alleges the colloquy did not adequately advise him of the applicable penalties for OWI, second offense.

         Because the colloquy did not comply with the requirements clarified in State v. Harrington, 893 N.W.2d 36 (Iowa 2017), State v. Brewster, 907 N.W.2d 489 (Iowa 2018), and State v. Smith, 924 N.W.2d 846 (Iowa 2019), we reverse the judgment entered on the OWI, second offense, and remand for further proceedings.

         We begin by examining error preservation. Steffen did not file a motion in arrest of judgment to challenge the stipulation as required to preserve error. See Harrington, 893 N.W.2d at 42-43. But we excuse that omission because the district court did not discuss the necessity of filing a motion in arrest of judgment or the consequences of failing to do so. See Smith, 924 N.W.2d at 851. Accordingly, Steffen may raise his objections to the enhancement colloquy without alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.

         We review the district court's compliance with rule 2.19(9) for errors at law. State v. Kukowski, 704 N.W.2d 687, 690-91 (Iowa 2005).

         Harrington outlined the four-part stipulation colloquy necessary to ensure an offender's admission to being a recidivist is knowing and voluntary. 893 N.W.2d at 45-46. First, the court must inform the offender of the nature of the enhanced charge and, if admitted, that it will result in heightened consequences. Id. at 45; see Brewster, 907 N.W.2d at 494 (applying Harrington to "proceedings in which repeat-OWI-offender enhancements are at issue"). The court must inform the offender that the prior conviction is "only valid if obtained when the offender was represented by counsel or knowingly and voluntarily waived the right to counsel." Harrington, 893 N.W.2d at 45 (citing Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.19(9)). As a part of this process, the court must also make sure a factual basis exists to support the offender's admission to the prior conviction. Id.

         Second, the court must inform the offender of the maximum possible punishment, including any mandatory minimum, carried by the enhanced offense. Id. at 46. For example, in Brewster, the supreme court found the colloquy inadequate, in part, because it failed to notify Brewster that admitting his prior conviction exposed him to a maximum indeterminate sentence of two years of incarceration and a mandatory minimum term of seven days in jail. 907 N.W.2d at 494.

         Third, the court must inform the offender of the trial rights enumerated in Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.8(2)(b)(4). Harrington, 893 N.W.2d at 46. And fourth, the court must inform the offender that if he admits to the prior conviction, no trial will take place on the issue of identity. Id. "The court must also inform the offender that the State is not required to prove the prior convictions were entered with counsel if the offender does not first raise the claim." Id.

         Steffen asserts the court did not comply with Harrington because he was not informed "for the prior conviction to qualify under Rule 2.19(9) [it] must have been entered with the assistance of counsel or following a valid waiver of counsel." We agree the colloquy failed to advise Steffen "the prior OWI conviction could be a basis for enhancing the classification of the crime and the sentence only if he was represented by or ...


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