Iowa High Court Sends Back Case of Davenport Registered Sex Offender

Iowa case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: Registered sex offender, exclusion zone, Iowa Code 692A.113.

State of Iowa v. Darrell Allen Showens. Registered sex offender, exclusion zone, Iowa Code 692A.113.

On May 11, 2011, Darrell Allen Showens was sitting on a park bench across the street from the Davenport, Iowa, Public Library. Normally, this would not be a problem, but Showens was a registered sex offender as a result of a 1999 conviction for third-degree sexual abuse involving a minor. Under Iowa Code 692A.103, such a person is not allowed to loiter within 300 feet of a public library. A Scott County deputy sheriff was leaving the library and recognized Showens. When confronted, Showens gave various conflicting explanations of why he was there, and the deputy ultimately arrested him. The evidence showed that he had been there about 45 minutes, and Showens was convicted by the Scott County District Court, Judge Mark R. Fowler, and sentenced to 240 days in jail, with all but three days suspended. He was also fined and sentenced to community service. Showens appealed, and the Iowa Supreme Court took the case.

The Court first looked at the U.S. Supreme Court cases construing loitering statutes, and noted that mere hanging out with no purpose can not be criminalized, but hanging out with an apparently improper purpose could be criminalized. The Court looked at a 2011 South Dakota case, State v. Stark, 802 N.W.2d 165 (S.D. 2011), which reached a similar conclusion.

Applying that standard to the facts of this case, the Supreme Court concluded that the evidence was unclear, since the lower court had not applied this standard. Therefore, the case had to be sent back for the trier of fact to determine whether the evidence supported an improper purpose. Therefore, it reversed the conviction, but remanded the case for the lower court to apply the correct standard.

No. 12-2168 (Iowa April 11, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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