State v. Cunningham, 22-0512

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtAHLERS, PRESIDING JUDGE.
PartiesSTATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. BENNIE LEE CUNNINGHAM, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number22-0512
Decision Date17 November 2022

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,

BENNIE LEE CUNNINGHAM, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 22-0512

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 17, 2022

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Jeffrey D. Bert, Judge.

Bennie Cunningham appeals the sentence imposed following his guilty plea. AFFIRMED.

Pamela Wingert of Wingert Law Office, Spirit Lake, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Considered by Ahlers, P.J., and Badding and Chicchelly, JJ.



Facing multiple criminal charges, Bennie Cunningham entered a plea agreement with the State. Pursuant to the agreement, Cunningham pleaded guilty to three counts and was sentenced. On appeal, he challenges only the indeterminate five-year sentence imposed for his conviction as a felon in possession of a firearm, a class "D" felony.[1]

"Our review of a sentence imposed in a criminal case is for correction of errors at law." Damme, 944 N.W.2d at 103 (citation omitted). When a district court imposes a sentence within the statutory parameters, we assume it is valid. State v. Hopkins, 860 N.W.2d 550, 554 (Iowa 2015). When the challenged sentence is within the statutory limits provided by law, we review for an abuse of discretion. State v. Headley, 926 N.W.2d 545, 549 (Iowa 2019). An abuse of discretion is found where "the district court exercises its discretion on grounds or for reasons that were clearly untenable or unreasonable." Id. (quoting State v. Thompson, 856 N.W.2d 915, 918 (Iowa 2014)).

Cunningham acknowledges that the sentence he received is within statutory limits. Nevertheless, he claims the district court abused its discretion in imposing an indeterminate five-year prison term rather than sentencing him to "time served," as Cunningham had already spent 693 days in jail at the time he was sentenced. We reject his challenge because the district court did not abuse


its discretion and Iowa law does not permit the sentencing option requested by Cunningham.

The district court is only permitted to impose a sentence authorized by statute. State v. Wieneke, No. 20-0126, 2021 WL 219222, at *1 (Iowa 2021). The specified terms of confinement for felony offenses are indeterminate terms. State v. Rodgers, 560 N.W.2d 585, 585 (Iowa 1997) ("The base sentence for class 'C' felonies is an indeterminate term of confinement not to exceed ten years."). Iowa Code section...

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