The question of how much discretion federal judges should have when sentencing criminal defendants is an important one, and opinions have changed over time. In the 1980s and 1990s, Congress passed a large number of strict, mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.
For the purposes of the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), burglary is considered a violent felony. When someone has two or more violent felony convictions, whether state or federal crimes, they may encounter the ACCA if they are then convicted federally of unlawful firearms possession. Such a conviction carries a mandatory 15-year prison sentence.
In the United States, far more people go to prison for state crimes than federal offenses, but federal charges are just as serious, if not more so. If you suspect you may be charged with a federal crime, here are a few things you need to know.
It appears that the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill backed by bipartisan groups and supported by the President, may yet come up for a vote this year. The bill proposes changes in federal criminal sentencing and promises some reforms in the prison system.
The question of what standard should be used when placing someone on terrorism watch list is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. While Iowa is in the Eighth Circuit, the ruling could be significant nationwide because much of the evidence against watch-listed people is submitted by state and local law enforcement.
Recently, the Des Moines police became the first Iowa police department to install an in-house machine that can analyze shell casings and access a federal ballistic imaging network to identify potential matches with firearms. Now, that system has been used to match a particular handgun to shell casings found at a robbery scene. As a result, an 18-year-old Ankeny man is facing criminal charges.
The First Amendment protects us from being prosecuted or persecuted by the government for what we say -- our opinions, our arguments and our rants. That said, not all speech is protected by the First Amendment. Fraud, plagiarism, defamation, perjury and solicitation to commit crimes are all examples of speech that is not protected. Also, incitement to imminent lawless action and true threats fall outside the First Amendment's protection.
A 56-year-old Iowa man was sentenced to 120 months in prison for being in possession of child pornography on Sept. 5. After his prison sentence ends, he will have 10 years of supervised release.