As part of our last post on felonies, we discussed some examples of sentences within each felony class. For this post, we wanted to discuss “sentencing enhancements” – in other words, factors that can increase the duration of a sentence in Iowa.
“An habitual offender is any person convicted of a class “C” or a class “D” felony, who has twice before been convicted of any felony in a court of this or any other state, or of the United States.” Iowa Code Section 902.8. Habitual offender statutes do not charge a separate offense; they only enhance the punishment of the current offense. See State v. Brady, 442 N.W.2d 57, 58 (Iowa 1989). A habitual offender is not eligible for parole until he or she has served a minimum of three years. However, a person will get statutory good time off the three year mandatory minimum.
Second or Subsequent Offenses (Drug Crimes Only)
If a person is convicted of a second or subsequent drug offense—meaning that prior to the current drug offense, the person had been convicted of a crime relating to “narcotic drugs or cocaine, marijuana, depressant, stimulant, or hallucinogenic drugs”—that person “may be punished by imprisonment for a period not to exceed three times the term otherwise authorized, or fined not more than three times the amount otherwise authorized, or punished by both such imprisonment and fine.” Iowa Code Section 124.411.
Possession of a Firearm or Weapon
For some offenses, if the person is in immediate possession or control of a firearm while committing the crime, the sentence will be two times the term otherwise imposed by law. Similarly, immediate possession or control of an offensive weapon will increase the sentence by three times the term otherwise imposed. Iowa Code Section 124.401(1)(e) and (1)(f).
By a School
If a person manufactures or distributes certain substances within one thousand feet from a school or other certain real property in Iowa, he or she may be sentenced up to an additional term of confinement of five years. Similarly, if a person possesses certain substances on a school or other certain real property in Iowa, he or she may be sentenced to one hundred hours of community service. Iowa Code Sections 124.401A and 124.401B.
Presence of a Minor
If a person manufactures methamphetamine in the presence of a minor, he or she shall be sentenced up to an additional term of confinement of five years. Iowa Code Section 124.401C.
Although this list is not exhaustive, it includes some of the most common factors that can enhance a sentence.