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In re Detention of Martin

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 21, 2019

IN RE THE DETENTION OF ANDREW HENRY MARTIN, ANDREW HENRY MARTIN, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, DeDra L. Schroeder, Judge.

         Andrew Martin appeals a district court order adjudicating him a sexually violent predator and committing him to the custody of the department of human services for control.

          Jill Eimermann of State Public Defender's Office, Des Moines, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Andrew Martin appeals a district court order adjudicating him a sexually violent predator (SVP) and committing him to the custody of the department of human services for control. He contends (A) he was not convicted of a sexually violent offense and (B) he did not commit a recent overt act, both predicates for the adjudication.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         In 2012, Martin pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor based on possession of child pornography. See Iowa Code § 728.12(3) (2011). The district court sentenced him to a prison term not exceeding two years, suspended the term, and placed him on probation. The court also imposed a special sentence requiring supervision as if under parole for a period of ten years. See id. § 903B.2. His special sentence parole began in March 2014.

         In early 2015, an administrative parole judge revoked Martin's special parole based on events in late December 2014. Twenty-one months later, the State filed a petition to have Martin declared an SVP under Iowa Code chapter 229A (2016). The State alleged Martin "suffer[ed] from at least one mental abnormality" that "predispos[ed] him to commit sexually violent offenses to a degree constituting a menace to the health and safety of others." The State further alleged Martin was "presently confined . . . for a sexually violent offense" and had committed a "recent overt act."

         The district court found probable cause to believe Martin was an SVP. The court later denied his two motions to dismiss the proceedings. Following a bench trial, the court adjudicated Martin an SVP and ordered civil commitment. Martin appealed.

         II. Discussion

         A "sexually violent predator" is defined as "a person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses, if not confined in a secure facility." Id. § 229A.2(12). A "mental abnormality" is "a congenital or acquired condition affecting the emotional or volitional capacity of a person and predisposing that person to commit sexually violent offenses to a degree which would constitute a menace to the health and safety of others." Id. § 229A.2(6). A person is "likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence" if "the person more likely than not will engage in acts of a sexually violent nature." Id. § 229A.2(5). In assessing this factor, the statute makes a distinction between persons who are confined and "not confined." Id.; see also id. § 229A.4 (providing certain criteria to begin proceedings to commit "a person presently confined" and separate criteria to begin proceedings to commit "a person who has committed a recent overt act"); In re Det. of Wygle, 910 N.W.2d 599, 608 (Iowa 2018) ("Section 4 provides a two-track approach to SVP commitment."). Specifically, "[i]f a person is not confined at the time that a petition is filed, a person is 'likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence' only if the person commits a recent overt act." Iowa Code § 229A.2(5).

         After trial, the State filed a supplemental brief withdrawing "its reliance on" the "presently confined" option for commitment. The State sought a decision only under the "recent overt act" track. See Wygle, 910 N.W.2d at 619 ("[W]e conclude that a person who has completely discharged the sentence for the underlying sexual crime and is serving a special sentence under Iowa Code chapter 903B is not 'presently confined' for the purposes of Iowa Code section 229A.4(1).").[1]Under that track, the State may "file a petition alleging that a person is [an SVP] and stating sufficient facts to support such an allegation, if it appears that a person . . . committed a recent overt act" and "was convicted of a sexually violent offense and has been discharged after the completion of the sentence imposed for the offense."[2] See Iowa Code § 229A.4(2)(a).

         A. Sexually ...


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