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Piling on of drug charges

Drug charges can lead to serious and sometimes lifelong sentences in an Iowa state prison or the federal prison system. These long sentences can be seen as the result of years of legislature enactments and amendments to increase the punishment available to prosecutors. The belief seems to have been that we can scare people away from possessing drugs by making the punishments to every drug crime severe.

Any time a story is reported of someone receiving a minimal sentence for some crime connected to drugs, the legislative response seemingly has been to add more time to a potential sentence. This gives prosecutors an additional power, because of the wide variety of drugs charges available, they can often build a case with numerous charges all deriving from the same drug arrest.

A man from Keokuk was arrested last week and because of the variety of drugs allegedly found, he is now facing approximately eight felonies, two aggravated misdemeanors and two simple misdemeanors. If he were to be convicted on all of the charges, he could be sentenced to 177 years in prison.

The danger for any suspect facing such charges is that they are unlikely to risk a trial, as the consequences of conviction are effectively life in prison several times over. This means there is very strong pressure on the accused to take some form of plea bargain. Even if the drugs were planted by the police, the risk of two lifetimes in jail is a risk few defendants are willing to take.

Given the prevalence of drugs in Iowa, you need to recognize the risk if you are arrested for possession of any drug and especially if you are in the company of anyone else found with drugs. 

Even if you are not facing three lifetimes in prisons, prosecutors may be indifferent to the collateral damage of charging you, no matter how incidental your connection may be to the drug bust.

 

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