Across the nation, every state has enhanced penalties for offences made in areas considered protected school zones. It is for this reason that a man is facing up to 25 years in prison on a drug charge that might otherwise have carried a much lesser sentence. The 18-year-old was arrested on allegations of selling drugs near an Iowa elementary school, and the proximity to the school drastically increases the time he might serve if convicted.
Regardless of the actual charge, any criminal accusation involving drugs has the potential to be serious. Even for a first-time offense in Iowa, a conviction even just for misdemeanor possession charges can carry penalties of jail time and fines. A married couple who was recently arrested for possession of the controlled substance methamphetamine is now facing such charges.
While often a non-violent crime, being convicted of drug charges in Iowa can still carry major repercussions, including a criminal record even where none existed before. A conviction regarding charges of felony or misdemeanor possession can follow an individual for decades. Unfortunately for one 22-year-old, this is just the situation he is now facing.
Federal drug charges can carry significant sentences. Depending on the amount of drugs allegedly involved, it does not take a great number of charges to create a very real potential for a sentence of life in prison. Even if the sentence is not explicitly life, a combination of multiple charges can quickly add up to what for many suspects will be effectively a life sentence.
Many courthouses have a statue of Justice holding scales, often with an inscription to the effect of "Equal Justice under Law." This represents the ideal that many assume is the norm in this country. But in many cases and many instances, justice is not always been equally meted out.
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.
Drugs can be insidious in creeping into a person's life. They may find they are addicted before they even recognize the risk. The recent epidemic of opioid deaths from overdoses is in part driven by people who begin with some form of prescription painkillers. Once addicted, they may suffer an overdose from one of the popular and widely prescribed drugs or, if they can no longer obtain those drugs, they may eventually move to heroin as they seek relief from chronic pain.
Use of marijuana is still illegal in Iowa. In spite of a growing trend of some states to permit marijuana for medical use and a few allowing recreational use, Iowa still has some of the most restrictive marijuana laws in the nation.
When someone is charged with a crime, one question that is not always obvious is "What crime are the charged with?" Take, for instance, the recent arrest of the Mayor of Fairfax, Virginia. He was involved with a transaction at a hotel where he gave methamphetamine to a police officer. In most cases in Iowa City, such behavior would likely bring a charge of possession and very possibly a more severe charge.
"[P]utting cocaine back in Coca-Cola."