State v. Allen, No. 64796

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMcCORMICK; All Justices concur except UHLENHOPP; UHLENHOPP
Citation304 N.W.2d 203
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellant, v. Michael David ALLEN, Cross-Appellant.
Decision Date15 April 1981
Docket NumberNo. 64796

Page 203

304 N.W.2d 203
STATE of Iowa, Appellant,
v.
Michael David ALLEN, Cross-Appellant.
No. 64796.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
April 15, 1981.

Page 204

Thomas J. Miller, Atty. Gen., Julie F. Pottorff, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Eric Knoernschild, Asst. Black Hawk County Atty., for appellant.

Page 205

William L. Wegman, Black Hawk County Public Defender, for cross-appellant.

Considered by LeGRAND, P. J., and UHLENHOPP, McCORMICK, ALLBEE and SCHULTZ, JJ.

McCORMICK, Justice.

Defendant Michael David Allen waived jury trial and was tried to the court on a charge of sexual abuse in the third degree under section 709.4(4), The Code. The trial court acquitted him of that charge but found him guilty of indecent exposure under section 709.9. The acquittal was based on a finding that the language specifying the requisite relationship between the offender and victim in section 709.4(4) infringes due process under U.S.Const. amend. XIV on the ground of vagueness. The conviction was based on a finding that defendant was guilty of "the lesser included offense of indecent exposure." The State appeals from the judgment of acquittal, and defendant cross-appeals from the judgment of conviction. We reverse on both appeals.

I. Jurisdiction of the State's appeal. The right of appeal in criminal cases is governed by statute in Iowa. The State's right is delineated in section 814.5, The Code, and the defendant's right is delineated in section 814.6. The State may appeal as of right from:

(a) An order dismissing an indictment, information, or any count thereof.

(b) A judgment for the defendant on a motion to the indictment or the information.

(c) An order arresting judgment or granting a new trial.

§ 814.5(1). Discretionary review may be available from:

(a) An order dismissing an arrest or search warrant.

(b) An order suppressing or admitting evidence.

(c) An order granting or denying a change of venue.

(d) A final judgment or order raising a question of law important to the judiciary and the profession.

§ 814.5(2).

Section 814.5 is a departure from prior law. Previously the State could appeal only from final judgments but could do so as a matter of right. §§ 793.1, .2, The Code 1977. When such appeals were taken, however, the appeal would be decided only if this court in its discretion found that it involved a question of law whose determination would be beneficial to the bench and bar as a guide in the future. State v. Whitehead, 277 N.W.2d 887, 888 (Iowa 1979). Thus section 814.5(2)(d), which authorizes discretionary review of a final judgment "raising a question of law important to the judiciary and the profession," is functionally equivalent to the practice under prior law.

One difference exists, and that difference is important in the present case. Under prior law this court's discretion to entertain the appeal was exercised after the appeal was taken. In contrast, under the present statute the discretion is exercised in determining whether the appeal can be taken. The problem in this case is that the State did not petition for discretionary review. See § 814.4 ("Application for discretionary review is made by filing a written notice within ten days after judgment or order with the clerk of the district court wherein the judgment or order was entered."). Instead, subsequent to the ten-day period but within the time for regular appeal, the State filed a notice with the district court clerk purporting to perfect an appeal as of right. A question thus exists which we must answer on our own motion. It is whether this court has jurisdiction in view of the State's failure to obtain permission for the appeal.

If authority for the appeal depends on section 814.5(2)(d) governing appeals from final judgments, the question is answered on the face of the statute. Appeal in that situation is expressly made discretionary. Because the State did not seek and obtain discretionary review, the court did not acquire

Page 206

jurisdiction of the appeal on that ground. Unless the State had a right to appeal under a ground in section 814.5(1), the appeal must be dismissed.

No doubt exists in this case that the judgment acquitting defendant of the sexual abuse charge was final within the meaning of section 814.5(2)(d). See State v. Lekin, 271 N.W.2d 697, 700 (Iowa 1978). However, some final judgments are appealable as of right under section 814.5(1). A dismissal order or judgment for defendant appealable as of right under section 814.5(1)(a) or (b) will often meet the finality test adopted for criminal cases in Lekin. It is true defendant raised his vagueness challenge at the conclusion of the evidence in a motion for acquittal. Nevertheless, his challenge to the facial validity of section 709.4(4) could have been raised by pretrial motion to dismiss the information. See Ia.R.Crim.P. 10(2). This was the procedure utilized in State v. Sullivan, 298 N.W.2d 267 (Iowa 1980). If that procedure had been used here, the State could appeal as of right under section 814.5(1)(a) ("An order dismissing an ... information....").

Moreover, that procedure should have been employed here. A motion for judgment of acquittal is a means for challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a conviction, not for attacking the facial validity of a statute. See Iowa R.Crim.P. 18(10)(a). We have held that "in order to preserve for review any alleged error in ruling on the constitutionality of a statute, the party challenging the statute must do so at the earliest available opportunity in the progress of the case." State v. Ritchison, 223 N.W.2d 207, 214 (Iowa 1974). Under Ritchison, a defendant does not preserve error when he waits until the conclusion of the evidence to mount an attack on the facial validity of a statute. Of course preservation of error is not a problem in this case because the trial court sustained the challenge. Nonetheless, the ground of challenge is one which ordinarily must be made by pretrial motion to dismiss. Defendant is excused in this case only because the trial court overlooked the untimeliness of the constitutional attack.

The issue is whether this fortuity deprives the court's ruling of its character as an order dismissing the information. Admittedly, as in Sullivan, the order would be so characterized, and thus appealable, if the constitutional issue were raised in a motion to dismiss. We have frequently said we will look to the substance of a motion and not its label. See, e. g., Kagin's Numismatic Auctions, Inc. v. Criswell, 284 N.W.2d 224, 226 (Iowa 1979). We do so here.

Consequently we treat the motion for acquittal as a motion to dismiss insofar as it assailed the facial validity of the statute. We hold that the resulting judgment on that ground was an order dismissing the information within the meaning of section 814.5(1)(a) as well as a final judgment of acquittal of the sexual abuse charge. Accordingly the State had a right to appeal and we have jurisdiction. We therefore reach the merits of the State's appeal.

II. The Appeal. The State alleged defendant had sexual intercourse with the...

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25 practice notes
  • Tapscott v. State, No. 135
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1995
    ...State v. Wyman, 59 Vt. 527, 8 A. 900 (1887) (applying incest statute equally to those of whole and half blood); see also State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 207 (Iowa 1981); A.W. Collins, Jr., Annotation, Sexual Intercourse Between Persons related by Half Blood as Incest, 34 A.L.R.5th 723 §§ 2,......
  • State v. Munz, No. 69378
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1984
    ...until his motion in arrest of judgment. The defendant has thus failed to preserve error on either of these issues. See State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 206 (Iowa Munz concedes on appeal that he failed to preserve his constitutional arguments but raises them in support of his argument that he......
  • State v. Swartz, No. 94-761
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • September 22, 1995
    ...State v. Bell, 322 N.W.2d 93, 94 (Iowa 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1210, 103 S.Ct. 1204, 75 L.Ed.2d 445 (1983); cf. State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 208 (Iowa 1981) (reserving issue concerning whether double jeopardy will be found under state constitution when defendant obtains acquittal w......
  • State v. Wilt, No. 67991
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 20, 1983
    ...argue, that we have held a pretrial motion to dismiss is the proper mode for challenging facial validity of a statute. State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 206 (Iowa 1981) (vagueness attack on sexual abuse statute); see State v. Sullivan, 298 N.W.2d 267, 269 (Iowa 1980). These cases, however, ca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Tapscott v. State, No. 135
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1995
    ...State v. Wyman, 59 Vt. 527, 8 A. 900 (1887) (applying incest statute equally to those of whole and half blood); see also State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 207 (Iowa 1981); A.W. Collins, Jr., Annotation, Sexual Intercourse Between Persons related by Half Blood as Incest, 34 A.L.R.5th 723 §§ 2,......
  • State v. Munz, No. 69378
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1984
    ...until his motion in arrest of judgment. The defendant has thus failed to preserve error on either of these issues. See State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 206 (Iowa Munz concedes on appeal that he failed to preserve his constitutional arguments but raises them in support of his argument that he......
  • State v. Swartz, No. 94-761
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • September 22, 1995
    ...State v. Bell, 322 N.W.2d 93, 94 (Iowa 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1210, 103 S.Ct. 1204, 75 L.Ed.2d 445 (1983); cf. State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 208 (Iowa 1981) (reserving issue concerning whether double jeopardy will be found under state constitution when defendant obtains acquittal w......
  • State v. Wilt, No. 67991
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 20, 1983
    ...argue, that we have held a pretrial motion to dismiss is the proper mode for challenging facial validity of a statute. State v. Allen, 304 N.W.2d 203, 206 (Iowa 1981) (vagueness attack on sexual abuse statute); see State v. Sullivan, 298 N.W.2d 267, 269 (Iowa 1980). These cases, however, ca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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