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Understand The Penalties For Marijuana Crimes In Iowa

Unlike many other states in the country that are taking a more relaxed approach to marijuana legislation, Iowa has not done much to decriminalize marijuana. In fact, in recent years and months, there has been an increase in the number of people being stopped from out of state for interstate drug crimes involving marijuana. Iowa takes marijuana crimes seriously, making it essential to defend against marijuana charges aggressively.

At Spellman Law, P.C., we are a law firm that focuses on criminal defense as its only legal practice area. This focus greatly benefits the firm’s clients who need to focus on obtaining the most favorable outcome. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Iowa in marijuana defense matters that include:

  • Simple possession
  • Cultivation, sale (or possession with intent to deliver)
  • Interstate marijuana crimes
  • Accommodation offenses
  • Marijuana diversion program

Our lawyers will explore all of the options to find the strategy that will help you obtain the most favorable outcome given the facts of your case, including the possibility of illegal search and seizure issues. This is a common mistake made by police in marijuana cases, and it can result in suppressed evidence that is essential to the state’s case. We have the skill and experience to effectively challenge evidence that has been illegally obtained.

Additional Penalties For Marijuana Possession

Beyond the threat of jail time and substantial fines, there are other penalties associated with a possession conviction that can restrict your freedoms, including:

  • You will be assessed court fees and a 35 percent surcharge will be added to all fines associated with your sentence.
  • You may lose your driving privileges (though a revoked license) for 180 days.
  • You will be subject to an evaluation for substance abuse problems.
  • You may have to comply with random urinalysis testing ordered by the court.

Our lawyers can help you apply for a temporary restricted driver’s license if you need it to fulfill work or family obligations.

Possession With Intent To Deliver — What Does That Mean?

Iowa continues to mete out stringent penalties for persons convicted of marijuana possession, including a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of $6,250 by the third conviction. If you are arrested with marijuana in your possession, and law enforcement believes you are involved in the sale of cannabis products to others, the punishment you may be facing can be far worse.

Crimes of marijuana distribution are considered felonies, and depending on the amount of the drug in your possession, you could face a prison sentence of 25 years and a fine of up to $1,000,000. For the largest distribution cases, federal authorities may also pursue investigations and choose to prosecute.

Circumstances That Can Lead To A Possession With Intent Charge

Context is everything in searches related to drug arrests, and this is especially true in a marijuana case involving the potential for a distribution-related charge. The police will be looking for the following during a search if they think you are guilty of possession with intent to distribute:

  • Scales to weigh your product
  • Baggies, small packages and labels to easily deliver the drugs
  • Excessive amounts of cash, especially if it is all in small denominations

It should be noted in Iowa that state law mandates minimum sentences of five years if the prosecution can prove you were selling to an underage minor, or if you sold marijuana to a minor within 1,000 feet of a park or elementary or middle school.

Misdemeanors And Pretrial Diversion Programs

It is true that misdemeanor charges carry less severe sentences than felonies. But you should still take a misdemeanor marijuana charge very seriously. A conviction or guilty plea could put you behind bars or cost you a huge fine. Fortunately, you might qualify for an alternative called pretrial diversion.

Under pretrial diversion, the defendant agrees to undergo a probation period with terms set up by the judge. With marijuana charges, this could include addiction treatment and other required courses. If you successfully complete the terms, the court will dismiss the charges. Not every defendant and type of marijuana charge qualifies for pretrial diversion. We will discuss pretrial diversions with you and whether it is something you should consider pursuing.

What Is A Deferred Judgment?

When our legal team cannot help you achieve an acquittal or dropped charges in your case, another option is to request that the judge issue a deferred judgment. This option means that you will serve no jail time, and no fine is imposed. However, you may be required to comply with probation requirements as a result of this deferral, and your record will show that you were arrested and charged with the crime of possession.

Defendants are only allowed two deferred judgments in their lifetime. Our attorneys can explain the implications of this option if it seems like the best strategy in your case.

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Call us in our West Des Moines office at 515-222-4330 to set up a free initial consultation. We offer our clients the flexibility to better accommodate them. We represent clients throughout central Iowa.