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Bail in Iowa

In Iowa, most people are bailable after an arrest (or after a conviction if the defendant appeals the conviction).  As provided in Iowa Code §804.21(2), if a criminal offense is bailable then the judge is required to set bail. Article I, Section 12 of the state constitution provides:

“[a]ll persons shall, before conviction, be bailable, by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses where the proof is evident, or the presumption great.”

After being taken into custody, Iowa Code §804.21(1) requires the defendant to be brought before the judge for purposes of determining bail and pre-trial release conditions without unnecessary delay (often called the “first appearance”). Even prior to the first appearance, the defendant may be released if such release is pursuant to pretrial release guidelines or a bond schedule promulgated by the Judicial Council.

Even prior to the first appearance, the defendant may be released if such release is pursuant to pretrial release guidelines or a bond schedule promulgated by the Judicial Council. In State v. Huss, 779 N.W.2d, 495, 498 (Iowa 2010), the court explained that the bond schedule does not apply when the court is in session and sets the bond amount. 

Even after a plea or verdict of guilty, a defendant awaiting the “judgment of conviction and sentencing” might be admitted to bail. However, in some types of cases, the court is not permitted to admit the defendant to bail following a plea or verdict of guilty for one of the following crimes: 

  • a class “A” felony; 
  • a forcible felony; 
  • any class “B” felony (included in Iowa Code §462A.14 or Iowa Code §707.6A); 
  • any felony included in Iowa Code §124.401(1)(a) or (b); 
  • a second or subsequent offense under Iowa Code §124.401(1)(c); 
  • a felony punishable under Iowa Code §902.9(1)(a); 
  • a public offense committed while detained pursuant to Iowa Code §229A.5; or 
  • a public offense committed while subject to an order of commitment pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 229A. 
  • a defendant appealing a conviction of a class “A” felony, a forcible felony, or various other criminal offenses; or 
  • a person detained for a sexually violent predator determination under Iowa Code chapter 229A. 

Any person charged with a class “A” felony or with manufacture, delivery, possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, or distribution of methamphetamine is not eligible to be released under pretrial release guidelines or under the bond schedule promulgated by the Judicial Council.


Uniform Bond Schedule in Iowa

Under certain conditions, Iowa law provides that a person may be released from custody pending an initial appearance if the release is pursuant to pre-trial release procedures or a bond schedule approved by the judicial council.  

The courts use the bond schedule if the person was arrested for a crime other than a forcible felony and the courts are not in session.    

  • $300 – Simple misdemeanor (non-scheduled violation);
  • $1,000 – Serious misdemeanor;
  • $2,000 – Aggravated misdemeanor;
  • $5,000 – Class “D” felony;
  • $10,000 – Other class “C” felony;
  • $25,000 – Other class “B” felony;
  • $50,000 – Violation of §124.401(1)(c) (class “C” felony charge for the above type crimes); 
  • $100,000 – Violation of §124.401(1)(a) & (b) (class “B” felony charge for manufacture or delivery of certain controlled substances, counterfeit substances, or substitute substances, including heroin, cocaine, and meth); 

For scheduled violations, the bail amount is established in State of Iowa Compendium of Scheduled Violations and Scheduled Fines.


Additional Resources

Iowa Code §804.21 – Visit the website of the Iowa Legislature to learn more about the initial appearance before the magistrate after an arrest. Find information on how the judicial council promulgates rules and bond levels to be contained within a bond schedule for the release of an arrested person.

Uniform Bond Schedule in Iowa – Visit the website for the Court in Iowa to learn more about the district courts. Find additional resources including the Uniform Bond Schedule.