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Expungements for dismissed charges are reasonable

A criminal conviction carries a stigma in Iowa and elsewhere throughout this country. While jail and prison sentences are the primary punishment for these convictions, anyone convicted of a criminal charge may wear a virtual scarlet letter that may mark them long after their sentence has been completed and they have reentered society.

A year in solitary for a Facebook post?

In the criminal justice system, when it comes to punishment, there is typically what is known as the concept of proportionality. We all know that some crimes receive relatively light punishment. A drunk driving conviction may result in some jail time, substance abuse classes, a fine and perhaps a ignition interlock in your vehicle.

The criminal justice system is not interested in your innocence

The one mistake many criminal defendants make is one of believing the criminal justice system will protect an innocent defendant. If you happen to be truly innocent of the crime you have been charged with, the system will probably double down on you, because you may be perceived as being recalcitrant or unrepentant for not accepting responsibility for what you have done.

A parole officer's thoughts

If you are convicted of a crime in Iowa or virtually any other American jurisdiction, with some exceptions of particularly violent crimes, it is very likely your sentence of jail time will include some period of parole. Parole is becoming increasingly popular with most state governments, as the high cost of incarceration is forcing them to adopt less expensive alternatives.

Was your crime infamous?

According to the Iowa Constitution, those convicted of an "infamous" crime can be denied the right to vote. The state has defined that to include all felonies and some misdemeanors. Recently, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the definition of infamous crimes did not cover misdemeanors and only some felonies are infamous.

Are federal judges "anchored" to their sentences?

Federal district judges have a great deal of discretion. The presumption is the that the district judge, who in effect, is the trial judge for the majority of federal criminal cases, is in the best position to evaluate the defendant, the witnesses, the evidence and the credibility of all those who appear in his or her courtroom.

How often do they use a MRAP in Iowa?

Until recently, few people in Iowa, or anywhere else, were aware of the 1033 Program. That, of course, changed after the events in Ferguson, with the police on display with an mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) and riot gear that looked like pictures of the Eastern Bloc or China, and not mid-America.

Is there a gender gap in exoneration for violent crimes?

Even though the criminal justice system is supposed to have checks and balances, the sad reality is that individuals are wrongfully convicted. In some of these cases, law enforcement officials act inappropriately and others were settled based on inaccurate or incomplete evidence. At the same time, the advent of DNA testing has proved to be a powerful ally in demonstrating innocence by providing clear scientific evidence.

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