State v. Mesa, No. 20-0244

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtAHLERS, Judge.
PartiesSTATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. HEATHER MESA, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date12 May 2021
Docket NumberNo. 20-0244

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
HEATHER MESA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 20-0244


May 12, 2021

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Tamra Roberts, Judge.

Heather Mesa challenges the victim restitution she was ordered to pay following her convictions for forgery and second-degree theft. AFFIRMED.

Martha J. Lucey, State Appellate Defender, and Maria Ruhtenberg, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

Considered by Bower, C.J., and Tabor and Ahlers, JJ.

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AHLERS, Judge.

Heather Mesa was charged with second-degree theft and forgery for taking an individual's checkbook and writing five unauthorized checks totaling $2006.84. Mesa pled not guilty but was later convicted of both offenses following a jury trial. The State requested pecuniary damages of $1228.00, which was roughly the sum of three of the forged checks. At sentencing, Mesa accepted responsibility for $980.00 of the restitution claimed, but she disputed the remaining $248.00, claiming she was paying a bill in that amount on behalf of the individual from whom she took the checkbook. The district court ordered Mesa to pay the full amount claimed of $1228.00. She appeals, seeking to have the restitution order vacated on the grounds that the district court's order requiring her to pay the full amount lacked sufficient evidentiary support.

I. Standard of Review

"We review restitution orders for correction of errors at law." State v. Waigand, 953 N.W.2d 689, 694 (Iowa 2021) (quoting State v. Jenkins, 788 N.W.2d 640, 642 (Iowa 2010)). "When reviewing a restitution order, 'we determine whether the court's findings lack substantial evidentiary support, or whether the court has not properly applied the law.'" State v. Klawonn, 688 N.W.2d 271, 274 (Iowa 2004) (quoting State v. Bonstetter, 637 N.W.2d 161, 165 (Iowa 2001)). The district court has "broad discretion in determining the amount of restitution when the record contains proof of a reasonable basis from which the amount may be inferred." State v. Shears, 920 N.W.2d 527, 530 (Iowa 2018). We will affirm a victim restitution determination "if it is within a reasonable range of the evidence." State v. Watts, 587 N.W.2d 750, 752 (Iowa 1998).

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II. Discussion

Mesa contends the district court erred by ordering her to pay victim restitution without evidence supporting the amount ordered.1 Mesa seems to suggest the district court was limited to evidence presented at the sentencing hearing in determining the amount of restitution. However, Mesa cites no authority, and we have found none, limiting the district court to evidence presented at the sentencing hearing. Here, the judge presiding at the sentencing hearing was the same judge who presided over Mesa's jury trial...

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