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Sentencing Guidelines in Iowa

When you face criminal charges in Iowa, a jury can decide your guilt, but only a judge can determine your sentence.

Common crimes and sentences

The court uses sentencing guidelines in order to decide the most appropriate sentence for the crime of which you were convicted. The sentence you receive is based first on whether you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. These are the most common types of misdemeanors and their associated sentences:

· Aggravated misdemeanor-Maximum of two years in prison and a $6,250 fine

· Serious misdemeanor-Maximum of one year in jail and a $1,875 fine

· Simple misdemeanor-Maximum of 30 days in jail and a $625 fine

These are the sentences for felony convictions, which are based on classifications:

· Class A-Life in prison without parole. The sentence may not be deferred or suspended, and defendants may be released on parole only if the Governor commutes their sentence to a term of years.

· Class B-Maximum of 25 years in prison. The sentence may be deferred or suspended unless the defendant was convicted of forcible felony.

· Class C-Maximum of 10 years in prison. The sentence may be deferred or suspended, except for a forcible felony. Fines range from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000.

· Class D-Maximum of 5 years in prison. The sentence may be deferred or suspended, except for a forcible felony. Fines range from a minimum of $750 to a maximum of $7,500.

Habitual Offender status is reserved for repeat offenders convicted for the third or subsequent time. For Class C or Class D felonies, the minimum sentence is 3 years and the maximum sentence is 15 years.

Sentencing guidelines are meant to provide guidance to the court. They are not absolute rules. Sentences may be reduced based on mitigating factors, or increased based on aggravating factors. Your attorney can consult with the court during pre-sentence investigation and argue for a certain sentence based on your situation.

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