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State v. Chapman

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
CHAD RICHARD CHAPMAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

         Chad Chapman appeals following his guilty plea to child endangerment. AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal) and Martha J. Lucey, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.


         The State originally charged Chad Chapman with two counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a child under the age of twelve. In time, the State amended the charge to child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor. See Iowa Code § 726.6(1), (7) (2017). Chapman entered an Alford plea[1] to the charge based on the same minutes of testimony supporting the original charges. The district court adjudged Chapman guilty and filed a sentencing order that included the following dispositions: a special sentence committing Chapman to department of corrections custody for ten years, a "law enforcement initiative surcharge (if applicable)," restitution of fees and costs, and placement on the sex offender registry.

         On appeal, Chapman argues the district court erred in (1) imposing the special sentence and law-enforcement-initiative surcharge; (2) ordering restitution of court costs "without first determining his reasonable ability to pay such costs"; and (3) determining his offense was sexually motivated, a predicate to placement on the sex offender registry.[2]

         The State concedes error on the first point and agrees we must "vacate those parts of Chapman's sentence." See id. §§ 903B.2 (authorizing special sentence only for "[a] person convicted of a misdemeanor or a class 'D' felony offense under chapter 709, section 726.2, or section 728.12"), 911.3 (authorizing surcharge only for criminal violations under "a. Chapter 124, 155A, 453B, 713, 714, 715A, or 716" and "b. Section 719.7, 719.8, 725.1, 725.2, or 725.3").

         Turning to the second issue, the supreme court recently addressed the timing of restitution orders and ability-to-pay determinations. See State v. Albright, 925 N.W.2d 144, 160-62 (Iowa 2019). The court stated, "Until the court issues the final restitution order, the court is not required to consider the offender's reasonable ability to pay . . . . Once the court has all the items of restitution before it, then and only then shall the court make an assessment as to the offender's reasonable ability to pay." Id. Based on Albright, we vacate the order for payment of court costs pending completion of a final restitution order. See id. at 162-63.

         That leaves us with the third issue-Chapman's placement on the sex offender registry. Iowa Code section 692A. 126(1)(v) requires a person convicted "on or after July 1, 2009," of "[a]ny indictable offense in violation of chapter 726 if the offense was committed against a minor or otherwise involves a minor" to register as a sex offender "[i]f a judge or jury makes a determination, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [the] conviction [was] sexually motivated." "Sexually motivated" "means that one of the purposes for commission of a crime is the purpose of sexual gratification of the perpetrator of the crime." Iowa Code § 229A.2(10); see also id. § 692A. 101 (29) (adopting same definition). The district court found "beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense committed was sexually motivated within the meaning of [Iowa Code] [s]ection 692A. 126." Chapman argues the "finding is not supported by substantial evidence."

         We agree our review is for substantial evidence. That standard flows from the definition of "sexually motivated," which, as noted, requires a judge or jury determination of sexual motivation by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, on par with findings supporting commission of the underlying offense. See id. § 692A.126(1)(v); State v. Grandberry, 619 N.W.2d 399, 401 (Iowa 2000) ("[W]hen a challenge is made to a criminal sentence on the basis that the court improperly considered unproven criminal activity, the issue presented is simply one of the sufficiency of the record to establish the matters relied on." (citing State v. Longo, 608 N.W.2d 471, 474 (Iowa 2000))); State v. Rodriguez, No. 15-1002, 2016 WL 4051696, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. July 27, 2018) (reviewing "sexually motivated" finding for substantial evidence). The standard requires us to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State. See State v. Trane, 934 N.W.2d 447, 455 (Iowa 2019). At the same time, "[e]vidence raising only 'suspicion, speculation, or conjecture is not substantial.'" State v. Huser, 894 N.W.2d 472, 490 (Iowa 2017) (citation omitted).

         The State attempts to support the district court's finding of sexual motivation by pointing to the minutes of testimony which, as noted, contained information pertaining to the original sex abuse charges. In the State's view, State v. Gonzalez, 582 N.W.2d 515, 517 (Iowa 1998), allowed the court to rely on those minutes not just to find a factual basis for the underlying crime but also to make required findings at sentencing. We disagree.

         In Gonzalez, the court stated the "minutes of testimony attached to a trial information do not necessarily provide facts that may be relied upon and considered by a sentencing court." 582 N.W.2d at 517 (emphasis added). The court continued, "The sentencing court should only consider those facts contained in the minutes that are admitted to or otherwise established as true." Id. (citation omitted). And, the court stated, "Where portions of the minutes are not necessary to establish a factual basis for a plea, they are deemed ...

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