DES MOINES – A man who has been found passed out in a yard, drunk at K-Mart and has at least three drunk driving was sent to prison for his numerous arrests connected to alcohol, but a successful appeal in his case was handed down this month and he will be re-sentenced.
Michael Handt, age 60 formerly of Charles City but most recently living in a hotel an Mason City’s south side before he was sent to prison in March, pled guilty to public intoxication, third or subsequent offense. At the time of sentencing in March, the prosecutor recommended a term of incarceration not to exceed two years to be served consecutive to sentences imposed in Floyd County the day before. There, the court sentenced Handt to two concurrent prison terms not exceeding two years on two public intoxication charges, which was affirmed in an appeal, State v. Handt, in November of 2016.
Handt’s attorney stated Handt’s conditions “include schizoaffective disorder, alcoholism and then recently the knee injuries that he sustained including a ruptured tendon in his right knee” for which he had undergone surgery the week before the sentencing hearing. Counsel stated Handt “is currently on hydrocodone five milligrams every four hours which includes 325 milligrams of acetaminophen and also ibuprofen.” Counsel recommended Handt be assessed a $625 fine and “enter a dual diagnosis program at his earliest availability.”
The court imposed a term of incarceration not to exceed two years, which would be served consecutive to the sentences imposed in the Floyd County cases.
On appeal, Handt argued the court considered improper factors. Specifically, he notes the court’s statements at sentencing:
Mr. Handt, if you have a mental health disorder and you’re taking medication for it, your medication tells you not to drink with it because essentially you screw it up or cancel it out by consuming alcohol. Your doctor I’m sure has advised you of that. I’m sure your pharmacist has advised you of that. I’m fairly certain that it’s on your bottle of medication that it’s not to be taken with alcohol, but yet you continue to drink and wonder why you’re having issues; it’s because your alcohol problem is out of control. And at some point we have to take steps to consider community safety and to consider frankly your safety when you’re consuming this alcohol and appearing in public.
The court noted that Handt does indeed have a long history of operating while intoxicated and public intoxication convictions. And his attorney stated at sentencing that Handt’s conditions included schizoaffective disorder and alcoholism. However, nothing in the record supports the court’s comments concerning Handt taking medication for a mental health disorder or combining prescription medications with alcohol consumption.
Therefore, the Iowa Court of Appeals vacated his sentence and remanded to the lower court for resentencing.