A motion in arrest of judgment in Iowa is a motion made by the defendant that no judgment be entered on a finding, plea, or verdict of guilty. Typically, this type of motion is filed to allow a guilty plea to be withdrawn because of a defect in the plea proceeding or if the plea was not knowingly or voluntarily entered. The motion must be made no later than forty-five (45) days after a guilty plea or verdict but no later than five (5) days before the date set for sentencing. If a guilty plea and sentencing are held on the same date, then it is not possible to file a motion in arrest of judgment. A defendant’s failure to file a motion in arrest of judgment precludes a defendant’s right to challenge a guilty plea on appeal. In most cases, the failure to file the motion bars appeal of the conviction. However, the failure to file the motion in arrest of judgment does not bar a challenge to a guilty plea if the failure to file the motion was due to ineffective assistance of trial counsel.
The court has thirty (30) days from the filing of the motion in arrest of judgment to rule on the motion, unless good cause is shown. The court may deny or grant the motion. If the court grants the motion in arrest of judgment because the guilty plea proceeding was defective, the defendant is placed in the same position in which the defendant was immediately after the trial information was filed. A factual basis must exist to support a guilty plea, which means that facts must support each element of the crime that was charged. If no factual basis existed for the guilty plea, then the court must give the State an opportunity to establish a factual basis before ruling on the motion in arrest of judgment. Motions in arrest of judgment are rarely granted in Iowa. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney before entering a guilty plea so that an informed decision can be made.
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