The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man over the question of whether he was absent or escaped from a halfway house. David Miller was given approval to leave a halfway house in Burlington in July of 2011 to look for a job. Miller came back at the appropriate time, but then left again after asking a guard if he could go see his girlfriend and being told no. Burlington police arrested him 19 days later.
During his trial Miller asked that the jury be allowed to find him guilty of the lesser crime of absence from custody instead of escape. The district court denied that request. The Iowa Supreme Court said a precendent had been set 16 years ago that determined being absent was not a lesser charge to escape — but said upon reviewing the issue in this case — it was correcting that decision.
The court said being absent should be considered as a lesser charge and ordered a new trial for Miller.
Here’s the full ruling : Absence ruling PDF