The penalties for violating Iowa’s drug laws can be severe. Individuals found in possession of small quantities of controlled substances are usually charged with misdemeanors and may avoid prison altogether, but people accused of manufacturing, trafficking or distributing illegal drugs in the Hawkeye State face far harsher sentences. When the illegal drug in question is cocaine, offenders charged with possession with the intent to distribute can be sent to prison for up to 50 years and fined up to $1 million, and defendants accused of selling drugs to minors or close to schools face even more time behind bars.
Cocaine distribution penalties
Possession of up to 100 grams of powder cocaine or 10 grams of crack cocaine is charged as a Class C felony in Iowa and is punishable by a fine of between $1,000 and $50,000 and up to 10 years in prison. The maximum custodial sentence increases to 25 years and fines can climb as high as $100,000 when between 100 to 500 grams of powder cocaine or 10 to 50 grams of crack cocaine is involved. Individuals convicted of possessing more than 500 grams of powder cocaine or 50 grams of crack cocaine face up to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
Lawmakers in Iowa included provisions in the state’s narcotics laws that are designed to deter individuals from selling controlled substances to children or engaging in drug-related violence. The penalties for serious drug charges like possession with the intent to distribute are even harsher when offenders are found with firearms or other offensive weapons as well as drugs, and individuals who sell narcotics to minors or near schools face a minimum of five years behind bars.
While the maximum sentences for possession cocaine in Iowa are harsh, judges are not bound by mandatory minimums and can use their discretion when determining appropriate penalties. However, they are rarely asked to use their discretion because the vast majority of narcotics cases in Iowa are resolved at the negotiating table and not in court.