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Cocaine Crimes

According to estimates by the United States government, people living in the U.S. spend approximately 30 billion dollars in retail to consume at least 300 metric tons of cocaine each year.

To combat the problems associated with drug abuse in Iowa, the State legislature has established numerous policies to prohibit the possession and distribution of cocaine and other controlled substances. The penalties for drug crimes in Iowa are harsh especially when mandatory minimum penalties apply. Only juveniles or “youthful offenders” are automatically able to avoid the minimum mandatory penalties after a conviction for a qualifying offense.

Law enforcement officers aggressively target individuals accused of possession or distributing cocaine. The most common crimes associated with cocaine include simple possession, possession with intent to sell, manufacturing, or trafficking.

Attorneys for Cocaine Crimes in Des Moines, Iowa

If you were charged with any type of cocaine crime in Des Moines, Iowa, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our attorneys represent clients throughout the City of Des Moines and the surrounding areas of West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Waukee, Urbandale, Pleasant Hill, Norwalk, Johnston, Grimes, Clive, Carlisle, Bondurant, Ankeny, or Altoona.

We also represent clients throughout the five counties in the greater Des Moines area including Polk County, Dallas County, Warren County, Madison County, Jasper County and Marion County.

If you were arrested by an officer with the Des Moines Police Department or another local law enforcement officer for any type of drug offense, including cocaine possession, distribution, sale, or trafficking, then contact our office to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced attorney.

We also handle federal cocaine trafficking or drug conspiracy cases prosecuted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in the offices in Des Moines, Davenport, or Council Bluffs.

Call (515) 279-9700 today to discuss your case.

Penalties for Cocaine Crimes in Iowa

Iowa’s current laws include wide disparities in the penalties for crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. The current penalties for cocaine crimes include a mandatory minimum sentence for a Class C felony of cocaine possession and the limitations to release on parole, work release, and earned time.

  • For more than 500 grams of powder cocaine or 50 grams of crack cocaine, the crime is charged as a super Class B felony and is punishable by confinement of no more than 50 years and a fine of no more than $1.0 million.
  • For 100 grams or less of power cocaine or 10 grams or less of crack cocaine, the crime is charged as a regular 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 to 500 grams of powder cocaine or 10 grams to 50 grams of crack, the crime is charged as a Class C felony and is punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 but no more than $50,000.

Under Iowa law, a person who is currently serving a Class C felony sentence under Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(c) (small quantity drug manufacturing, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver) is required to serve a minimum sentence as provided in Iowa Code section 124.413.

Challenges to Cocaine Trafficking Crimes in Iowa

The crime of cocaine trafficking is set out in Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(a)(3). The sentencing penalties are enhanced when large quantities of cocaine precisely defined in the statute are involved. The harsh penalties in cocaine trafficking cases in Iowa have caused many legal challenges. For example, in State v. Daniels, 888 N.W.2d 680 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016), the court considered whether Iowa’s drug trafficking laws for crack cocaine trafficking under Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(a)(3) violate the Equal Protection Clause of either the Iowa or Federal Constitution.

The court ultimately found that Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(a) is not unconstitutional despite the disparate treatment of people accused of dealing either crack or powder cocaine. The court noted that the defendant’s claim is initially based on an assumption that African American people prefer crack cocaine and Caucasian people prefer powder cocaine. The defendant then proceeds on the assumption that powder cocaine and crack cocaine are similar substances. The defendant bases his claim on the premise that persons charged with distributing powder cocaine and crack cocaine are similarly situated.

The court noted that cocaine base is a different drug from cocaine by citing United States v. Thomas, 932 F.2d 1085, 1090 (5th Cir.1991). In that case, the court noted that cocaine base or crack cocaine is prepared for inhalation and magnifies the effect of cocaine so that one gram of cocaine can profitably be sold in small but potent quantities. Id. The court concluded that there were reasonable grounds for imposing a greater punishment for offenses involving a particular weight of cocaine base than for comparable offenses involving the same weight of cocaine. The court considered the purity of the drugs, the dose size, the method of use, the effect on the user, and the collateral social effects of the traffic of the drug. Id.

The Defendant citing studies that pass doubt on the extent of the difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. In response, the court noted that Congress enacted the fair sentencing act of 2010, which reduced the disparity necessary to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine as opposed to powdered cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1. The court in Iowa noted that the disparity created by Iowa Code sections 124.401(1)(a)(2) and 124.401(1)(a)(3) is 10:1, far below the federal disparity rate. See State v. Daniels, 888 N.W.2d 680 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016). Thus, no relief was granted.

Time will tell whether public pressure will force the Iowa Legislature to take a closer look at whether the currently sentencing scheme for drug crimes in general, and crack cocaine crimes in particular, are too harsh. Protect your rights after an accusation involving any drug crime, including drug crimes related to powder or crack cocaine including possession, possession with intent to sell, and trafficking.