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.
In this case, the now-former mayor could still face these charges. However, he could be charged with a very different crime and which could result in significantly less, if any, jail time. This type of situation highlights the tremendous discretion prosecutors have when presented with a person arrested for a crime.
If the former mayor was giving the methamphetamine to the officer in exchange for money or sex, then he could face criminal charges for drug distribution or trafficking.
On the other hand, if he and his attorney can convince the prosecutor that he was meeting the officer at the hotel in order to have a “party” and simply brought the drugs along as part of the “celebration,” somewhat akin to bringing food and drinks to a football party, the potential charges could be substantially less than the draconian level for more serious drug charges.
This is known as an accommodation offense. Whether the ex-mayor will see such an accommodation from prosecutors for his potential accommodation is unclear. While this case occurred under Virginia law, Iowa does have a similar provision, Iowa code section 124.410, but it pertains only to marijuana and the amount in question must be less than one-half ounce.
Criminal charges can have many complexities and prosecutors often bully or scare the accused with threats of long sentences. For any drug charge in Iowa, before you accept a plea or decide to go to trial, you want advice from an attorney working for your defense, not a prosecutor trying to convict you.