In the case of United States v. Davis, Father and Mother lived together, during their relationship, in mobile home park with their two daughters (one born in 1990, and another one born in 1992). Mother and Father separated in 1996, and again in 1998. At that time, Mother and Daughters began living with Mother’s parents on their farm in Watkins, Iowa. On January 28, 2000, Iowa Trial Court entered an order establishing Father’s paternity of Daughters and requiring him to pay child support of $723 per month, based on Father’s reported earnings from April 19th to May 1st of $1,279.
On July 26, 2001, Iowa Trial Court found that Father failed to pay any child support and thus, it held him in contempt and ordered him to pay $2,000 by July 30, 2001, or spend 30 days in jail. Father paid the $2,000; Child Support Recovery Unit in Cedar Rapids (C.S.R.U.) also collected $2,963 during 2001, through an income withholding order. However, C.S.R.U. told Trial Court that it had trouble collecting because Father stayed one step ahead of withholding order through frequent job changes.
On January 10, 2002, Iowa Trial Court found Father in contempt for willfully failing to pay some or all of his child support obligation from November 2001, through January 2002. In January 2002, and February 2002, C.S.R.U. collected total of $1,638 through federal and state tax offsets. Father subsequently filed request for modification, and Iowa Trial Court reduced his child support obligation to $570 per month, based on an imputed annual income of $30,000 per year to Father. Nonetheless, Father failed to pay any child support from 2003 through 2004; C.S.R.U. collected only $1,885 in 2003 and $845 in 2004.
In August of 2004, C.S.R.U. found out that Father was working in Colorado and referred his case to Colorado child support services. Father continued his nonpayment during 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008; he owed $52,354 by July of 2008. Meanwhile, on April 23, 2008, federal grand jury handed down two-count indictment against Father for violating 18 U.S.C. 228(a)(3)[Child Support Recovery Act (C.S.R.A.), as amended by Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act); willful failure to pay past due child support obligation] and §228(a)(1)[lesser included offense]. At trial in U.S. District Court for Northern District of Iowa, Father moved for acquittal after close of government’s evidence and renewed motion after all evidence was presented, but District Court denied both motions. After jury convicted Father on count 1, District Court dismissed count 2, sentenced Father to 2 years in prison with 1 year supervised parole, and ordered Father to make restitution of $53,637.
Claiming that District Court erred by denying his motions for acquittal, Father appealed, but the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has now upheld the District Court’s decision. In doing so, the Court of Appeals has ruled that (1) this is case of first impression in that Federal District; (2) relying on the cases of Mattice (1999) 186 F.3d 219, and Mathes (1998) 151 F.3d 253, the government need not show that defendant was able to pay the total back child support in Child Support Recovery Act prosecution, but only that defendant was able to pay part and willfully failed to do so; (3) failure to pay is willful if defendant could have paid more than he or she actually paid; and (4) evidence was sufficient to show that Father could have paid more than he paid. The Court of Appeals has ruled that Father violated 18 U.S.C. 228(a)(3) by willfully failing to pay his child support obligation, and affirms the District Court judgment.