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E-FILED 2017 MAY 01 10:33 AM BUCHANAN - CLERK OF DISTRICT COURT

IN THE IOWA DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR BUCHANAN COUNTY

STATE OF IOWA, CASE NO. FECR081656


Plaintiff,
vs. MR. SOULES BRIEF IN SUPPORT
OF MOTION TO DISMISS
CHRISTOPHER DOUGLAS SOULES,

Defendant.

I. Introduction

Via Complaint and Affidavit signed by Officer Ben Ward and filed April 25, 2017,

the State accused Mr. Soules of violating Iowa Code 321.261(4) by leaving the scene

of an accident resulting in death. The complaint alleged Mr. Soules [did] not

immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible, and

fail[ed] to return to and remain at scene of accident. (4/25/17 Complaint). As detailed

below, this information is factually incorrect.

A recording of a 911 phone call placed by Mr. Soules provides real-time evidence

that Mr. Soules unhesitatingly identified himself and his role in the accident to dispatch

and tried his utmost to resuscitate Mr. Mosher. Mr. Soules described the location of the

accident and communicated with dispatch for approximately 5 minutes and 45 seconds

while help was en route. The evidence will further show that emergency responders

arrived on the scene shortly after Mr. Soules concluded his 911 call. Mr. Soules

remained on the scene with those emergency responders for several more minutes

before returning to his home.

For whatever reason, the charging officer failed to include in the Complaint and

Affidavit that Mr. Soules provided his name and accident location to the

telecommunication arm of law enforcement prior to his departure. Nor did the charging

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officer mention that Mr. Soules had rendered emergency aid to Mr. Mosher. Ultimately,

Mr. Soules 911 call establishes probable cause does not exist for the charge against

Mr. Soules.

II. Governing law

The purpose of a criminal complaint is to identify a person who has allegedly

committed a public criminal offense and to allow a magistrate to review the complaint

and sworn affidavit to determine whether there is probable cause that the offense was

committed. See Iowa Code 804.1. Probable cause is established when the totality of

the circumstances as viewed by a reasonable and prudent person would lead that

person to believe that a crime has been committed and that the arrestee committed or is

committing it. State v. Pedka, 555 N.W.2d 202 (Iowa 1996).

Iowa Code 321.261(1) directs: The driver of any vehicle involved in an

accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle

at the scene of the accident or as close as possible and if able, shall then return to and

remain at the scene of the accident in accordance with section 321.263. As the Iowa

Supreme Court has held:

[T]he manifest intent of section 321.261 is to prevent a motorist involved in


personal injury or property damage accidents from evading liability, civil or
criminal, as a result of such accident, by escaping before his identify can
be established. Further, it is clear that the legislature intended to protect
persons from distress or danger from additional mutilation and exposure,
for want of proper treatment.

State v. Sebben, 185 N.W.2d 771, 774 (Iowa 1971). Accordingly, a person violates Iowa

Code 321.261 by concealing or attempting to conceal the identity of one involved in

an automobile accident wherein personal injuries are sustained. Id.

Iowa Code 321.263 then provides:

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1. The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or


death of a person or damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by a
person shall give the drivers name, address, and the registration number
of the vehicle the driver is driving and shall upon request and if available
exhibit the drivers drivers license to the person struck, the driver or
occupant of, or the person attending the vehicle involved in the accident
and shall render to a person injured in the accident reasonable assistance,
including the transporting or arranging for the transporting of the person
for medical treatment if it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary
or if transportation for medical treatment is requested by the injured
person.

2. If the accident causes the death of a person, all surviving drivers shall
remain at the scene of the accident except to seek necessary aid or to
report the accident to law enforcement authorities. Before leaving the
scene of the fatal accident, each surviving driver shall leave the surviving
drivers drivers license, automobile registration receipt, or other
identification data at the scene of the accident. After leaving the scene of
the accident, a surviving driver shall promptly report the accident to law
enforcement authorities, and shall immediately return to the scene of the
accident or inform the law enforcement authorities where the surviving
driver can be located.

A person who fails to comply with the requirements of Iowa Code 321.261(1) and

321.263 may be charged with a class D felony if the accident resulted in death. Iowa

Code 321.261(4).

III. Argument

A. Mr. Soules satisfied Iowa Code 321.263(1)

It is indisputable that Mr. Soules has not violated the first paragraph of Iowa

Code 321.263. That paragraph states two requirements: First, a driver in an accident

must provide identifying information to certain individuals. Second, a driver in an

accident must render reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the accident. The

first requirement does not apply to the facts of this case and Mr. Soules satisfied the

second requirement.

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1. Providing identifying information to other individuals involved in accident

As to the first requirement, the Iowa Supreme Court has clarified that Iowa Code

321.263(1), when it requires a driver to report his or her identifying information to the

person struck, the driver or occupant of, or the person attending the vehicle involved in

the accident does not mean law enforcement or eyewitnesses. State v. Tarbox, 739

N.W.2d 850, 854 (Iowa 2007). Rather, Iowa Code 321.263(1) simply requires a driver

to report identifying information to the driver or a passenger of the other vehicle

involved. Tarbox, 739 N.W.2d at 854 ([A]ttending refers to someone who is present

with the vehicle rather than one who comes upon the vehicle after the fact.). Tragically,

because Mr. Mosher was unresponsive at the time of the accident and no other person

was with Mr. Mosher on his tractor, Mr. Soules had no one to whom he could report his

identifying information as contemplated by Iowa Code 321.263(1).

2. Rendering reasonable assistance

Turning then to the second requirement of Iowa Code 321.263(1), it must first

be emphasized that the Complaint and Affidavit fails to mention Mr. Soules rendered

reasonable assistance. Indeed, the 911 phone call placed by Mr. Soules establishes he

rendered reasonable assistance to Mr. Mosher and arranged for medical treatment. Mr.

Soules called 911 and told dispatch he had rear-ended Mr. Moshers tractor. He relayed

that Mr. Mosher and his tractor were situated in a ditch a mile north of Aurora. Mr.

Soules checked on Mr. Mosher to determine if he was conscious and breathing. Mr.

Soules then administered CPR to Mr. Mosher, reporting to dispatch that Mr. Mosher had

blood coming out of his mouth. Other individuals were on the scene with Mr. Soules, but

Mr. Soules nevertheless took it upon himself to try to revive Mr. Mosher. Before hanging

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up, he confirmed that emergency responders were en route. Mr. Soules did not depart

the scene until he was assured emergency personnel had the situation in hand. As a

matter of law, the State cannot prove Mr. Soules did not render reasonable

assistance. Mr. Soules actions at the scene, as captured by the 911 recording,

unquestionably were reasonable as required by Iowa Code 321.263(1).

B. Mr. Soules satisfied Iowa Code 321.263(2)

No Iowa court has interpreted Iowa Code 321.263(2), but an examination of the

plain language of that provision reveals Mr. Soules was in full compliance with its

requirements. The first sentence states that, in an accident causing death, the surviving

driver must remain at the scene except to seek aid or report the accident. But the first

sentence of Iowa Code 321.263(2) must be read in tandem with the second: the

second sentence states that, before leaving the scene, the driver must provide a

drivers license, automobile registration receipt, or other identification data at the scene

of the accident. The first sentences directive to remain on the scene cannot be

indefinite; the second sentence qualifies what is necessary to release a surviving driver

to leave the scene. To discharge the legal obligation imposed, these first two sentences

clearly establish that a surviving driver must remain on the scene until the driver has

provided identifying information. Notably, the Tarbox decision supports this proposition

by its explicit rejection of the argument that Iowa Code 321.263(1) requires a driver to

remain at an accident scene until the police arrive. Tarbox, 739 N.W.2d at 855.

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As the 911 recording proves, Mr. Soules complied with Iowa Code 321.263(2)

by providing his identification data to dispatch while on the scene of the accident. 1

Identification data is not defined in the Iowa Code; it serves as a catchall. The

dictionary definition of identification is the state of being identified or evidence of

identity. Identification, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-

webster.com/dictionary/identification; see also Tarbox, 739 N.W.2d at 853 (Absent a

statutory definition or an established meaning in the law, we give words used by the

legislature their ordinary and common meaning); State v. White, 563 N.W.2d 615,

617 (Iowa 1997) (The dictionary provides a ready source for ascertaining the common

and ordinary meaning of a word.). Relatedly, Iowa Code 719.1A criminalizes the

provision of false identification information to law enforcement. If a person can be

prosecuted for merely providing false identification it is then axiomatic a person should

be absolved from criminal liability for providing truthful identification information.

By stating his name, Mr. Soules provided the information necessary for dispatch,

law enforcement, and Mr. Moshers family to identify him. Mr. Soules is well-known in

his small community. His identity was known to the emergency responders who arrived

on scene. A second call to from law enforcement to dispatch further confirms that law

enforcement was aware Mr. Soules was the driver of the vehicle that struck Mr.

Moshers tractor. There was never any attempt by Mr. Soules to obfuscate his identity.

Cf. Sebben, 185 N.W.2d at 774 (defendant never revealed identify and in fact

1 The second sentence of Iowa Code 321.263(2) is silent as to whom


identification data must be provided. Accordingly, Mr. Soules disclosure of his identity
to dispatch must satisfy this requirement. See Tarbox, 739 N.W.2d at 853 ([T]his court
strictly construes criminal statutes with doubts resolved in the accused's favor.).

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deliberately concealed identity). Mr. Soules thus satisfied the prerequisite that freed him

to leave the scene: he provided identification data at the scene of the accident.

Mr. Soules likewise satisfied the requirements of the third sentence of Iowa Code

321.263(2). Again, that sentence states: After leaving the scene of the accident, a

surviving driver shall promptly report the accident to law enforcement authorities, and

shall immediately return to the scene of the accident or inform the law enforcement

authorities where the surviving driver can be located. (Emphasis added). The

disjunctive or is important. A surviving driver is relieved of the responsibility of

returning to the scene so long as the driver informs law enforcement of the location of

the surviving driver. Soules promptly reported the accident to dispatch, which is an arm

of law enforcement. See Iowa Code 34.2(4) (A 911 system shall be capable of

transmitting requests for law enforcement, fire fighting, and emergency medical and

ambulance services to a public safety agency or agencies that provide the requested

service at the place where the call originates.); id. 80B.11C (stating law enforcement

academy provides training to dispatchers; training curriculum developed in consultation

with law enforcement agencies);

http://www.buchanancountyiowa.org/departments/sheriff/communications.php (stating

Buchanan County Sheriffs Office Communications Division provides dispatch services

for the Sheriffs Office and police departments in Fairbank, Independence, and Jesup);

see also Tarbox, 739 N.W.2d at 854 (recognizing a person in an accident would contact

the authorities and [a]t that point the dispatcher would send the necessary authorities

and medical personnel to the scene to render aid). Because Mr. Soules reported the

accident to dispatch and informed dispatch where the accident had occurred, he was in

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full compliance with the last sentence of Iowa Code 321.263(2). He had no legal

obligation to return to the scene or to wait there for law enforcement to arrive.

C. Mr. Soules satisfied Iowa Code 321.261

Having shown Mr. Soules fulfilled the various requirements of Iowa Code

321.263, it becomes clear that Mr. Soules cannot be charged with a violation of Iowa

Code 321.261. The first clause of Iowa Code 321.261(1) requires a driver to stop

immediately at the scene and the second clause requires a driver to remain at the

scene in accordance with section 321.263. There can be no dispute that Mr. Soules

stopped his vehicle immediately at the scene of the accident, satisfying the first clause

of Iowa Code 321.261(1). And, as explained above, Mr. Soules complied with Iowa

Code 321.263, satisfying the second clause of Iowa Code 321.261(1).

IV. Conclusion

The information provided by Mr. Soules during his 911 call fulfilled the

requirements of the reporting statutes. Not only did Mr. Soules satisfy the letter of the

law, he satisfied the spirit. He gave law enforcement on-the-spot identification and

location information and reasonably provided treatment to Mr. Mosher. See Sebben,

185 N.W.2d at 774 (stating these purposes); Tarbox, 739 N.W.2d at 855 (finding, as a

matter of law, defendant could not be prosecuted for violating Iowa Code 321.261;

affirming district courts grant of motion to dismiss). Because probable cause does not

exist to establish Mr. Soules committed the charged offense, the prosecution against

him must be dismissed.

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PARRISH KRUIDENIER DUNN BOLES GRIBBLE


GENTRY BROWN & BERGMANN, L.L.P.

By: __/s/ Gina Messamer _______________


Alfredo Parrish AT0006051
Brandon Brown AT0001199
Gina Messamer AT0011823
2910 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50312
Telephone: (515) 284-5737
Facsimile: (515) 284-1704
Email: aparrish@parrishlaw.com
Email: bbrown@parrishlaw.com
Email: gmessamer@parrishlaw.com
ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT
PROOF OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that the foregoing instrument was served upon all parties to the above cause by:
() personal service () first class mail
() certified mail, return receipt requested () facsimile
() Airborne Express (overnight) (X) electronic filing
() e-mail
on May 1, 2017.
I declare that the statements above are true to the best of my information, knowledge and belief.

/s/ Gina Messamer

Copies to:

Shawn M. Harden
Buchanan County Attorney
210 5th Avenue NE
P.O. Box 68
Independence, Iowa 50644-0068
Phone: (319) 334-3710
Fax: (319) 334-6591
ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF

Christopher D. Soules
DEFENDANT