State v. Schiebout, 18-0081

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMcDERMOTT, Justice.
Citation944 N.W.2d 666
Parties STATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Kamie Jo SCHIEBOUT, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 18-0081,18-0081
Decision Date05 June 2020

944 N.W.2d 666

STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
Kamie Jo SCHIEBOUT, Appellant.

No. 18-0081

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Filed June 5, 2020

Mark C. Smith (until withdrawal) and Martha J. Lucey, State Appellate Defender, and Mary K. Conroy, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General, and Thomas Kunstle, County Attorney, for appellee.

McDERMOTT, Justice.

Kamie Jo Schiebout wrote checks without authorization from a bank account that was not hers. The State charged her with violating Iowa Code section 714.1(6) (2015), which provides a person commits theft "if the person knows that such check ... will not be paid when presented." All seven checks the State charged Schiebout with writing were paid when presented. The jury nonetheless found Schiebout guilty.

This appeal requires us to address the types of conduct Iowa Code section 714.1(6) forbids. Schiebout contends the State's evidence presented at trial was insufficient to show she knew the checks would not be paid when presented. Schiebout argues presenting a check without authorization, which was the substance of the State's evidence, is different than providing a check one knows will not be paid when presented, which is the subject of section 714.1(6). As a result, Schiebout asserts the district court committed reversible error in denying her motion for acquittal at trial.

We agree. The text of section 714.1(6) forbids knowingly presenting a check that will not be paid when presented. Evidence that she presented checks without authorization is, without more, insufficient to establish this particular crime. Because the State failed to present sufficient evidence supporting a conviction under section 714.1(6) and, specifically, that Schiebout knew the checks would not be paid when presented, we vacate the decision of the court of appeals, reverse the judgment of the district court, and remand for dismissal.

944 N.W.2d 668

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Schiebout's former husband, Matthew, served as treasurer of Sandy Hollow Ducks Unlimited, the local chapter of the national Ducks Unlimited organization. The chapter had a checking account at American State Bank. Only two people had signature authority on the checking account: Matthew, as the chapter's treasurer, and the chapter's president. Matthew kept the chapter's checkbooks in the basement of the house he had shared with Schiebout before their separation.

Schiebout had never been a member of the chapter and never had check-writing authority on the chapter account. Nonetheless, months after Matthew and Schiebout separated and Matthew moved out, Schiebout wrote a series of unauthorized checks on the chapter's account, signing her own name on each check.

Over a two-month period, twelve checks were drawn on the account. Only one was written by the chapter president or treasurer. Despite this, the bank honored all twelve checks, even those presented after the account ultimately became overdrawn. The bank mailed several overdraft notices to Matthew, but he didn't open any of them. Matthew first learned someone had been writing unauthorized checks on the chapter's account when the bank eventually reached him by phone. Upon examining the check images at the bank, Matthew recognized the signatures as Schiebout's. He reported the matter to the Orange City Police Department.

Around this time, but before the police had contacted her, Schiebout wrote two more checks on the chapter's account at Schweser's, a clothing store. Schiebout knew the store clerk and told her the checks were "her husband's." Unlike with the other checks, the bank did not honor either check to Schweser's because the account was overdrawn. No evidence suggests Schiebout thereafter attempted to pass any more checks. Schiebout told an employee at the bank she had "grabbed the wrong checkbook."

The State charged Schiebout with second-degree theft under Iowa Code sections 714.1(6) and 714.2(2), and as a habitual offender under Iowa Code sections 902.8 and 902.9(1)(c ) based on prior criminal convictions. At trial, the State presented evidence on eleven checks, but the jury was instructed to consider only seven checks as instances of alleged theft. The two checks Schiebout unsuccessfully passed at Schweser's were presented but not charged as part of the theft.

At trial, the State provided images of five of the seven checks that were charged. The State could not present images of two of the checks because the merchant, Wal-Mart, processed them as "automated clearinghouse" (or ACH) withdrawals in which Wal-Mart converted the paper checks into an electronic transfer that pulled funds from the checking account. With the funds electronically transferred, Wal-Mart handed the checks back to Schiebout without submitting the checks to the bank. For the two Wal-Mart checks, the State instead presented receipts showing the check numbers and store photos and video surveillance of Schiebout at both the register and leaving with a cart of items, all of which coincided with the dates and locations of the ACH transfers.

The State asked the jury to consider Schiebout's actions as part of a single scheme and, thus, to aggregate the seven checks in calculating the total value of property to determine the degree of theft. The seven checks totaled $1256.93.

The four other checks that came into evidence, including the two Schweser's checks, were not made part of the charged

944 N.W.2d 669

theft but instead were offered to help prove elements of the charged crime. Matthew identified the signature on every check admitted into evidence as Schiebout's. Two checks contained Schiebout's personal information, such as her driver's license number or date of birth, handwritten across the top.

At the close of the State's evidence, Schiebout moved for judgment of acquittal, arguing the State failed to prove the knowledge element of section 714.1(6). The district court took the motion under advisement. Schiebout made a renewed motion for acquittal after the defense concluded its case, which the district court again took under advisement.

The district court ultimately denied the motion for acquittal in an oral order in which the court noted its reliance on State v. James concerning the knowledge element. 310 N.W.2d 197 (Iowa 1981), overruled by State v. Hogrefe , 557 N.W.2d 871 (Iowa 1996). The district court found the State had provided sufficient evidence on the knowledge element because Schiebout "was aware that she was not an authorized signer on this account" and "not being an authorized signer ... she should have known that they would not be accepted and could not have been accepted in a legal fashion by the bank."

The district court instructed the jury on the knowledge element, Jury Instruction No. 13, as follows:

For the defendant to know something means she had a conscious awareness that at the time she gave the checks to the various businesses they would not be paid by the bank because the defendant was not an authorized signer on the account on which the checks were drawn.

The jury found Schiebout guilty of second-degree theft. At a second trial focused on Schiebout's habitual offender status, the jury found Schiebout to be a habitual offender under Iowa Code section 902.8. The district court sentenced her to an indeterminate prison term of fifteen years, with a mandatory minimum of three years based on her habitual offender status. The district court found Schiebout lacked the ability to pay certain items of restitution and waived other costs.

Shortly thereafter, the district court ordered Schiebout to pay the Sioux County Sheriff's Office $28,136.31 for medical services provided while she was a detainee there. At the hearing, Schiebout did not receive and did not have counsel representing her. Distinguishing other types of restitution, the district court held Iowa law does not require an ability-to-pay determination before ordering a convicted person to pay for medical aid.

Schiebout appealed. She asserted the district court erred in denying the motion for judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence both that Schiebout knew the checks would not be paid when presented and that she obtained property or services in exchange for the checks. Schiebout alternatively sought a new trial asserting the jury was not properly instructed on the checks it was allowed to aggregate to meet the dollar amount threshold for second-degree theft. Schiebout also asserted the district court's ruling imposing the sheriff's claim for reimbursement of the medical aid costs was improper and that she was entitled to counsel at the hearing.

We transferred the appeal to the court of appeals. The court of appeals affirmed Schiebout's conviction on the sufficiency of evidence, accepting the contention that knowledge of her lack of authorization in presenting the checks satisfied the knowledge element under section 714.1(6). The court of appeals further found no error in

944 N.W.2d 670

the jury instruction on aggregating the dollar amounts of the checks. On the district court's order concerning payment for medical aid, the State, on appeal, conceded medical aid is subject to the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
25 cases
  • State v. Carter, 17-1773
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • April 14, 2021
    ...State failed to prove he was the shooter. Claims of insufficient evidence are reviewed for correction of legal error. State v. Schiebout, 944 N.W.2d 666, 670 (Iowa 2020). "We will uphold the verdict on a sufficiency-of-evidence claim if substantial evidence supports it." Id. "Evidence is su......
  • Iowa v. Soteco, 20-1291
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • September 1, 2021
    ...7 (Iowa 2021). We uphold the verdict on a sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge if substantial evidence supports it. State v. Schiebout, 944 N.W.2d 666, 670 (Iowa 2020). Following a bench trial, we review the district court's findings as we would a jury verdict, meaning we will affirm the v......
  • State v. Berwanger, 20-0492
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • June 16, 2021
    ...the district court and the parties to craft instructions with legal concepts that relate to the proven record. See State v. Schiebout, 944 N.W.2d 666, 671 Page 9(Iowa 2020) ("Jury instructions, when not objected to, become the law of the case for purposes of appellate review for sufficiency......
  • State v. Soteco, 20-1291
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • September 1, 2021
    ...7 (Iowa 2021). We uphold the verdict on a sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge if substantial evidence supports it. State v. Schiebout , 944 N.W.2d 666, 670 (Iowa 2020). Following a bench trial, we review the district court's findings as we would a jury verdict, meaning we will affirm the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT