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Drug Crimes in Iowa - Changing Minimum Mandatory Sentences

2017 House File 579 seeks to change the criminal penalties for cocaine possession, modifies minimum mandatory sentences for drug offenses, establishes a standard sentence to be used by the court without imposing mandatory minimum terms, and provides for reconsideration of a felony sentence. To become a law, HF 579 must be passed by the full Iowa Senate.

The attorneys at McCarthy and Hamrock fight serious felony drug crimes in Iowa. We understand the impact of minimum mandatory sentences that prevent judges from using any common sense at sentencing. Read more about how our attorneys fight drug crimes in Des Moines, Iowa.


Penalties for Cocaine Crimes in Iowa

Iowa’s current laws include wide disparities in the penalties for crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. 2017 HF 579 would change the penalties for crack cocaine to lessen that disparity.

The analysis of the bill contains a “Table 1” that shows the current penalties and proposed penalties under the bill by removing the mandatory minimum sentence for a Class C felony of cocaine possession and the limitations to release on parole, work release, and earned time.


penalties for cocaine crimes in iowa


For more than 500 grams of powder cocaine or only 50 grams of crack cocaine, the crime is currently charged as a super Class B felony is punishable by confinement of no more than 50 years and a fine of no more than $1.0 million.

For 100 to 500 grams of powder cocaine or 10 to 50 grams of crack cocaine, the crime is currently charged as a Class B felony is punishable by confinement of no more than 25 years and a fine of no less than $5,000 but no more than $100,000.

For 100 grams of powder cocaine and less or for 10 grams of crack cocaine or less, the crime is charged as a Class C felony is punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 but no more than $50,000.


Drug Minimum Mandatory Sentences

Under Iowa law, many people are currently serving a Class C felony sentence under Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(c) for offenses such as:

  • small quantity drug manufacturing;
  • drug delivery; or
  • drug possession with intent to manufacture or deliver.

Those individuals are required to serve a minimum sentence as provided in Iowa Code section 124.413.

This pending legislation contained in 2017 HF 579 removes the minimum mandatory sentence for any defendant serving a Class C felony sentence under Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(c). The elimination of the minimum mandatory would apply retroactively to certain current offenders serving a Class C felony drug offense and make them eligible for consideration of parole.


Additional Resources

FAMM's Position on Minimum Mandatory Penalties in Iowa - Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) has created an easy way to contact your Iowa Senators about HF 579. If passed, HF 579 would repeal some of Iowa's mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws and many of those provisions would be applied retroactively. The legislation would give judges flexibility in other cases to avoid the mandatory sentence and reform Iowa's crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity. The legislation would also allow judges to reconsider a person's sentence after they have spent one year in prison.


So what do you think of the proposed legislation regarding the criminal sentencing reforms in LSB1885HV? Leave a message below.

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