Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Wilson case brief

State v. Wilson case brief summary
573 N.W.2d 248 (1998)

The State appealed the order of the Iowa District Court for Story County, which dismissed a trial information charging theft by taking, Iowa Code § 714.1(1) (1991), and theft by deception, Iowa Code 714.1(3) (1991), because the charges were untimely under Iowa's three-year statute of limitations for criminal actions, Iowa Code § 802.3(1) (1991), and denied the State's amendment to extend under Iowa Code § 802.5 (1991).

Defendants allegedly staged a burglary of their home and then collected the insurance money for their losses. Thirty-five months later, defendants' children confirmed the fraud to the police. Defendants were charged 38 months after they cashed the check. The district court found that the charges were time-barred and dismissed the information. The State appealed.


  • The court affirmed in part and reversed in part. 
  • Because fraud was not an element of theft by taking, that charge was not subject to the one-year fraud extension of Iowa Code § 802.5. 
  • However, fraud was an essential element of theft by deception, and therefore, that charge was subject to the extension. 
  • The district court had erred in holding that the extension was inapplicable where the State had learned of the theft by deception prior to the expiration of the three year statute of limitations because the correct interpretation was that the element of fraud extended the ability of the State to prosecute to four years. 
  • However, because there was no finding as to when the theft by deception occurred, remand was required for a determination. 
  • The limitation period began when the State had discovered the offense.

The court affirmed the order of the district court that dismissed the theft by taking charge but reversed the determination that the one-year fraud extension only applied when the discovery of the theft occurred after the initial three-year statute of limitations has expired. The court remanded for a factual determination of when the State discovered the theft for purposes within the one-year extension.

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