It has become a tradition at GRL to highlight the Legislature’s activity over the past year that impacts GRL’s areas of legal practice. Here are the top 5 changes in Iowa laws that GRL believes the Iowa public should be aware of in 2022:
- Taking out the Trash. As we have repeatedly posted, the Iowa Legislature wants Iowan’s trash to be open season. Not just by law enforcement but by anyone. Senate File 2296, signed into law by the Governor states in part: “It is the public policy of this state that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in garbage placed outside of the person’s residence for waste collection in a publicly accessible area.” What the Legislature fails to understand is that they do not get to create or take away constitutional protections. The laws they pass must comply with the Constitution. They do not get to say what the Constitution does nor does not protect. GRL is already hard at work preparing to take this bill out where it belongs … the trash.
- Shielding Complaining Witnesses. House File 2239 makes the Rape Shield rule of evidence, 5.412, applicable to discovery proceedings such as depositions. If a defendant wishes to inquire into prior instances of a complaining witnesses sexual behavior during a deposition, the appropriate notice must be given to the State and the witness and the inquiry must be justified to the court before it will be permitted. Importantly, this new law also seeks to create a new exception to the rule against hearsay by making prior statements by a complaining child qualifying as “an initial disclosure of an offense” admissible whether the witness testifies or does not testify. This too is an attempt to legislate around constitutional protections, specifically the right of a person accused to cross examine and confront the accuser. The Legislature has no authority to Legislate around these protections.
- Law Enforcement Pursuits. Senate File 333 specifically authorizes law enforcement to engage in high-speed pursuits of individuals suspected of a misdemeanor offense and further allows law enforcement to disregard the rules of the road when engaged in such pursuits. The emergency vehicle must still have its lights or siren activated during these pursuits and they may not “recklessly endanger persons or property” during such pursuits. Most importantly, this new law grants emergency responders immunity from civil liability unless the person injured by their conduct can establish that the emergency vehicle was being operated with “reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The immunity does not apply if sirens or flashing blue and red lights are not being utilized by the emergency response vehicle.
- Increased Penalties for Heroin Offenses. Because Iowa’s prisons are not already beyond capacity, under-funded, over-crowded and understaffed. In House File 2462, the Iowa Legislature lowered the quantities of heroine that result in increased, mandatory imprisonment punishments. One hundred grams (old law was 1 kilo) of more of heroin is now a “Super B” felony, punishable by a mandatory 50 years in prison. Five grams (old law was one hundred grams) or more of heroin is a Class B felony, punishable by a mandatory 25 years in prison. Less than 5 grams (old law was less than one hundred grams), is a Class C felony, punishable by 10 years in prison.
- Sex Offender Registry Modifications. For individuals who are on the sex offender registry prior to July 1, 2022, they may not be removed from the registry unless all sex offender treatment has been completed, they are assessed as low risk to reoffend they are not incarcerated, AND the director of the judicial department of correctional services supervising the offender stipulates the the modification. For those placed on the registry after July 1, 2022, the time they are required to wait until applying for removal is increased for Tier I offenses, from 2 years to 10 years, and for Tier II and III offenses, from 5 years to 15 years. New registrants are also required to demonstrate they have successfully completed any pretrial release, probation, parole, or work release requirements for the offense requiring registration. Finally they must establish they were not convicted of any other criminal offense other than a simple misdemeanor or traffic violation for the period preceding their application.