IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA
No. 1-832 / 00-2023
Filed December 28, 2001
STATE OF IOWA,
ADAM LAMAR AMMONS,
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Gary D.
Adam Ammons appeals the imposition of consecutive sentences upon his
guilty pleas to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession
with intent to deliver marijuana. AFFIRMED.
Linda Del Gallo, State Appellate Defender, and Patricia
Reynolds, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Cristen Odell,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Miller and Eisenhauer, JJ.
Adam Ammons appeals the judgments and sentences imposed following his
guilty pleas to being a felon in possession of a firearm and to possession
of marijuana with intent to deliver. Ammons contends his sentences must be
vacated and his case remanded for resentencing, as the district court
failed to provide reasons for the imposition of consecutive sentences for
the two charges. Because we find the court was effectuating the agreement
of the parties, we affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings. Ammons and the State entered into a
plea agreement conditioned upon court concurrence, pursuant to Iowa Rule of
Criminal Procedure 9(2). Ammons agreed to plead guilty to possession of
marijuana with intent to deliver in violation of Iowa Code section
124.401(1)(d) (1999) and felon in possession of a firearm in violation of
Iowa Code section 724.26 (1999), both class D felonies, in exchange for the
State's dismissal of four other counts. The plea also listed, as a
sentencing concession, that "[t]he State will recommend incarceration with
At the plea proceedings, the Court specifically referred to the plea
agreement and asked Ammons if he understood the recommendations of the
State as to the specific penalties and consecutive sentences. Ammons
acknowledged he understood the agreement. The district court then heard
Ammons' guilty pleas but deferred its acceptance of the plea agreement
until receipt of the presentence investigation report.
At the sentencing hearing the State affirmed it had no sentencing
recommendations beyond that contained in the plea agreement. Defense
counsel, while recognizing the provisions of the agreement, presented
mitigating factors to the court, encouraging leniency. Ammons stated he
knew the court would impose incarceration and requested only a short delay
in the commencement of his sentence. The court then made the following
The Court has reviewed the presentence investigation report as
well as the Minutes of Evidence in connection with these cases. Based
upon the nature and circumstances of the offenses to which the
defendant has pled guilty, as well as the information contained in the
presentence investigation report [and the defendant's] previous
criminal involvement, it does appear that incarceration is appropriate
in connection with these cases and is recommended in the plea
agreement. The Court will accept the plea agreement at this time.
And in Cause No. FECR234411, it will be the judgment and
sentence of the Court that the defendant should serve a term of
incarceration not to exceed five years in the custody of the Director
of the Department of Corrections and pay a fine in the amount of
With respect to Cause No. 232018, in Count III, and pursuant to
the defendant's plea of guilty to that charge, it will be the judgment
and sentence of the Court that the defendant serve a term of
incarceration in the Department of Corrections of not to exceed five
years and pay a fine in the amount of $750.00. The fine in Cause No.
232018 will be suspended. The sentence of incarceration in that cause
will be served consecutively to the sentence of incarceration imposed
in Cause No. 234411, so that the total incarceration imposed is not to
exceed ten years.
Scope of Review. We review the record before us to determine whether
the trial court abused its discretion, by failing to state reasons for the
sentence imposed. State v. Oliver, 588 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Iowa 1998).
Basis for Consecutive Sentencing. Pursuant to Iowa Rule of Criminal
Procedure 22(3)(d), a court must state, on the record, the reasons for
imposition of a particular sentence. It must also provide reasons for the
imposition of consecutive, rather than concurrent, sentences. State v.
Jacobs, 607 N.W.2d 679, 690 (Iowa 2000). While the explanation need not be
detailed, it must be sufficient to allow this court to review the
sentencing decision for the exercise of discretion. Id. Typically,
failure to provide such reasoning will result in vacation of the sentence
and a remand for resentencing. State v. Marti, 290 N.W.2d 570, 589 (Iowa
1980). However, where a sentencing court does no more than give effect to
the agreement of the parties, the sentencing decision is not a product of
court discretion, and any error is harmless. See State v. Snyder, 336
N.W.2d 728, 729 (Iowa 1983).
Reviewing the statements of the trial court, the link between the
reasons given for incarceration and the imposition of consecutive sentences
is tenuous, at best. However, in this matter the parties entered into a
plea agreement conditioned on court concurrence. See Iowa R. Crim. P.
9(2). While the court did not follow the better practice of specifically
stating it was binding itself to the plea agreement, that action is
inferred inasmuch as the agreement was accepted and the State's sentencing
recommendation was imposed. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 9(3) (acceptance of
agreement requires imposition of disposition in agreement or one more
favorable to defendant); State v. Barker, 476 N.W.2d 624, 627 (Iowa Ct.
App. 1991) (noting a trial court is bound by plea agreement conditions,
unless defendant is afforded an opportunity to withdraw his plea at
sentencing). As such, the consecutive sentences were not a product of
court discretion, but an effectuation of the plea agreement terms, and any
failure to comply with rule 22(3)(d) was harmless error. See State v.
Cason, 532 N.W.2d 755, 756-57 (Iowa 1995). The judgments and sentences are