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Iowa Supreme Court: New expungement statute applies to plea agreement dismissals if dismissed charge


In State v. John Doe, a defendant pled guilty to a variety of charges, including harassment, pursuant to plea agreement. As part of that plea agreement, the State dismissed a domestic assault that was factually related to the harassment but separately filed under a simple misdemeanor docket number.

The Defendant moved to expunge the record of the prosecution of the dismissed “case” arguing that it met all of the requirements of a newly enacted expungement statute in Iowa Code § 901C.2, which requires that all of the charges in the “case” also be dismissed to qualify for expungement.

The State argued that the plea agreement required guilty pleas to harassment and other factually related charges and therefore the simple misdemeanor dismissal should not be expunged. In other words, it was “factually related” to the charges to which defendant had agreed to plead guilty.

The defendant argued that there were no other charges in the “case” which contained just the dismissed domestic assault count because he was charged separately in the simple misdemeanor case which had a different case number.

The Iowa Supreme Court pointed out that the State had not identified any harm to the public in concealing a simple misdemeanor filed separately from a factually related yet separately filed and pled indictable offense, stating that simple misdemeanors are the least serious of all criminal offenses. It suggested that separate filings already give the misimpression that the defendant was involved in multiple unrelated criminal acts when the State purportedly intends for the multiple filings to be “factually related.” It cited to a fairness doctrine and suggested the State had been inconsistent in its arguments, another reason to reject the State’s reasoning.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for OWI (DUI) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Anamosa, Vinton, Waterloo, or anywhere else in Linn, Johnson, Jones, Benton, Black Hawk, or other Iowa counties, please contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC, 319-389-1889, http://www.daclawfirm.com, for a free ½ hour initial consultation today. Remember that a blog is not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established by reading a blog or sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet.


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