What is Assault While Participating in a Felony in a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, criminal prosecution?
Any person who commits an assault, defined here, while participating in a felony other than a sexual abuse is guilty of a class “C” felony if the person thereby causes serious injury to any person; if no serious injury results, the person is guilty of a class “D” felony.
It’s not “automatic” that a defendant has committed an assault while participating in another felony just because the police say the predicate, or, required felony was committed.
Jury instruction 800.9 requires that a jury be instructed on the elements of the predicate felony and the State must prove the elements of the predicate offense before a defendant can also be convicted of committing an assault with that felony.
It makes sense, then, that the jury find the elements necessary to convict the defendant of the predicate offense. For example, what if a jury acquits a defendant of the underlying felony but decides to convict for assault while participating in a felony?
In 2010, the Iowa Supreme Court grappled with this very issue and held that:
“A jury simply could not convict Halstead of the compound crime of assault while participating in a felony without finding him also guilty of the predicate felony offense of theft in the first degree. There is simply no exit from this air-tight conundrum.”
State v. Halstead, 791 N.W.2d 805, 816 (Iowa 2010)
In Halstead, the Iowa Supreme Court further found that the defendant could not be retried on the “while participating” charge because the jury had already conclusively found him not guilty of the elements of the predicate felony based on the principles of collateral estoppel with regard to the constitutional issue of double jeopardy.
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