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State v. Hill

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JODIE MARIE HILL, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey D. Farrell, Judge.

         Jodie Hill appeals the imposition of consecutive sentences following her guilty pleas. AFFIRMED.

          Thomas Hurd of Greenberg & Hurd, LLP, Des Moines, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Jodie Hill pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, third offense, with the habitual offender enhancement, and to third-degree theft. In a second case, Hill pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, third offense, without the habitual offender enhancement. At a combined sentencing hearing, Hill was sentenced to fifteen years in the first case. She was sentenced to five years in the second case, to run consecutive to the sentence in the first case, for a total period not to exceed twenty years. On appeal, she contends the district court violated Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.23(3)(d) by failing to state on the record the reasons for its decision to impose consecutive sentences. We affirm.

         We review Hill's sentencing challenge for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Thompson, 856 N.W.2d 915, 918 (Iowa 2014) ("We will reverse a decision of the district court when an abuse of discretion occurs or there is some defect in the sentencing procedure."). "The failure of the district court to adequately cite its reasons for a sentence on the record is ordinarily reversible error." State v. Thacker, 862 N.W.2d 402, 409 (Iowa 2015).

         Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.23(3)(d) requires, "The court shall state on the record its reasons for selecting the particular sentence." This applies to a district court's decision to impose consecutive sentences. See State v. Oliver, 588 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Iowa 1998). Our supreme court has reiterated the purpose of requiring the sentencing court to state its reasons for selecting a particular sentence on the record is to ensure "defendants are well aware of the consequences of their criminal actions" and, most importantly, to allow us "the opportunity to review the discretion of the sentencing court." State v. Hill, 878 N.W.2d 269, 273 (Iowa 2016) (quoting Thompson, 856 N.W.2d at 919). A "terse and succinct" statement may suffice "only when the reasons for the exercise of discretion are obvious in light of the statement and the record before the court." Thacker, 862 N.W.2d at 408. Furthermore, "courts should also explicitly state the reasons for imposing a consecutive sentence, although in doing so the court may rely on the same reasons for imposing a sentence of incarceration." Hill, 878 N.W.2d at 275. We may not infer the same reasons apply as part of an overall sentencing plan. Id.

         When pronouncing its sentence, the district court stated:

All right. I appreciate the statement that you made, and I've reviewed the case. I've had the case in front of me, really, for quite some time because we had quite a few hearings with regard to the first case because the case kept getting continued. I reviewed the presentence investigative report as well, so I'm familiar with that.
I talk to people a lot of the time about having a plan and thinking about a plan, and your plan was really good. I really like it. But when I consider what to do with someone, I have to think about what's the likelihood that they're going to follow through with that kind of plan or how they are going to do on probation. One of the things I know I look at, obviously, is the presentence investigation, because that tells me what their history is like. And you've reviewed the presentence investigation report. You know what your history is like. It's just not very good. I mean, you have a lot. You know, a long history of convictions of crimes, and that's why the presentence investigative report writer recommended prison.
Now, notwithstanding that, when you came up before the Court in [the first case], the State was willing to consider probation based upon you getting into treatment and showing effort toward your rehabilitation prior to that sentencing hearing. And that is really important to me on how people do during that time frame, because I think it's reflective of how people are going to do during probation. It's kind of a tryout for probation in a way, and you failed that. You didn't go to treatment. You committed another meth offense.
And that was very similar circumstances to which you had with regard to the first offense, the first offense where you were out at Fleet Farm and committed a theft. And then you're discovered with meth on you. And the second offense was at Hy-Vee and they didn't press charges against you so there's not theft issue there, but those are the circumstances in which the police were called to the store and they found meth on you. And those are the public protection issues that I think are notable. Not in the same sense where that's assault or things like that, but people have the right to protection from loss of their ...

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