2021 Legislative Summary of Criminal Laws
Taking Effect July 1, 2021
Several new laws passed by the 2021 Iowa Legislature take effect on July, 1, 2021. With the 4th of July holiday upon us, GRL Law wants to take the opportunity to recap some of the major laws taking effect this week that affect the clients we serve and the areas of law in which we frequently practice.
Here are the Top 5 Criminal Law Changes According to GRL:
- Gun Law Changes
A lot of changes came to Iowa gun laws this year, but the big hits, including permitless carry, are listed here.
- Ignition Interlock Requirements
After a 1st offense OWI, ignition interlock devices are now only required on any vehicle operated by the person under a driver’s license revocation. This is an improvement to the old law, which required a person to have an interlock installed on all vehicles owned and operated by the person, even if the vehicle were co-owned with a spouse, child, or other person and the revoked driver didn’t drive that vehicle.
- Sex Offense Legislation
Several changes to sex offense laws. First, there is no more statute of limitation on offenses involving alleged sexual abuse of a minor. This is a modification of the old statute of limitations (15 years after age of majority). The definition of “sex act” has also been modified. New punishments and crimes involving sex offenses were enacted, including sexually motivated extortion and sex abuse committed during a burglary.
- Super Speeder Bill
If you speed 25 mph or more over the speed limit and kill a person with your vehicle, you can be found guilty of a Class “C” felony. If you cause them serious injury, you can be found guilty of a Class “D” felony.
- The “Bachelor” Bill
The bill requires that “any driver of a vehicle who knows or has reason to believe” that the driver’s vehicle was involved in an accident causing injury or death, the driver must stop, remain, or return to the scene. If they leave the scene, they must call 911 and provide certain accident information “as soon as reasonably possible.”
For those interested in a more comprehensive list of the some of the criminal bills of interest passed, see a more extensive list set out below.
Sex Offender Registry Requirements and Sexually Motivated Extortion
Bill: HF 201
HF 201 adds the requirement that if a sex offender is required to register in another state under the laws of that state, but resides, is employed or attends school in Iowa, the sex offender is required to register in Iowa for the period of time required by the other state or under Iowa law, whichever is longer. HF 201 also requires that a person convicted of extortion must register as a sex offender if the court determines that the offense was sexually motivated. The offense is a Tier III offense and the registration length is 10 years.
Special Sentence for Sexual Abuse Committed During a Burglary
Bill: HF 231
HF 231 creates a lifetime “special sentence” for sexual abuse committed during the commission of a burglary. The new law states that if a person commits first degree burglary in which the person performs or participates in a sex act which constitutes sexual abuse, the person shall also be sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole. Sexual abuse committed during a burglary is classified as an “aggravated offense” and is a tier III sex offense.
Bill: HF 232
Previously, under the code section for disorderly conduct, a person could be found guilty of disorderly conduct for making a “loud a raucous noise in the vicinity of a residence or public building which causes unreasonable distress to the occupants.” This bill adds a requirement that the making of loud and raucous must be done “intentionally or recklessly” to constitute disorderly conduct.
Abuse of a Human Corpse
Bill: HF 282
Affects Iowa Code sections:
HF282 increases the level of the crime and criminal penalty of Abuse of a Human Corpse from a class “D” felony to a class “C” felony.
Defrauding a Drug or Alcohol Test
Bill: HF 283
The new offense created by HF 283 is “defrauding a drug or alcohol test,” which is defined to include a drug or alcohol test given in a private-sector workplace and a public employer. For a first offense, this crime constitutes a simple misdemeanor. For each subsequent offense, it is a serious misdemeanor. The court may require a substance abuse evaluation and treatment upon conviction.
The law prohibits all of the following:
– manufacturing, marketing, selling, distributing, using, or possessing synthetic urine or a urine additive for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol test;
– knowingly use the person’s own urine expelled or withdrawn prior to the collection of a urine sample from the person for a drug or alcohol test for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol test; and
– knowingly using the urine of another person for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol test.
Personal Delivery Devices
Bill: HF 304
This bill creates new fines for personal delivery devices (PDD). What the heck is a PDD?? Technically, a PDD is a “battery-operated terrestrial device” that can operate on its own but can be controlled remotely by a person. Think delivery robots, robot dog walkers, robot paper boys, etc. This law provides for scheduled violations for excess speed, failing to meet operation requirements, identification marker and braking system requirements, and failing to meet lighting requirements.
Controlled Substances and Precursor Substances
Bill: HF 391
This law adds new substances to the Schedule I “opiates” category and “hallucinogenic substances” category.
NOTE: Effective date is May 10, 2021, not July 1, 2021
Low-Speed Electric Bicycles
Bill: HF 493
This bill creates new laws regarding electric-assisted bicycles. The law defines “low-speed electric bicycle” and produces classes of these bikes and designates where each class of bike can be operated. The law excludes “low-speed electric bicycle” from the definition of “vehicle,” which excludes them from licensing requirements that apply to vehicles. This exclusion of e-bikes from the definition of “vehicle” means that the bikes should NOT subject someone to the criminal offense of operating while intoxicated. The new law requires that a “low-speed electric bicycle” have a label on it specifying the classification number, top assisted speed, and wattage.
Motor Vehicle Accidents Resulting in Injury or Death
Bill: HF 524
It appears that this law was passed in response to the Chris Soles (a.k.a. “The Bachelor”) case. Under the existing 2020 law, the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of a person must stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and if able, must return to and remain at the scene of the accident. The new language of the law adds language which requires that “any driver of a vehicle who knows or has reason to believe” that the driver’s vehicle was involved in such an accident must stop, remain, or return to the scene.
The new law also requires a driver who leaves the scene of the accident resulting in injury or death to a person without knowledge or reason to believe that the driver’s vehicle was involved in an accident that involved injury or death of a person, the driver is required to, “as soon as reasonably possible,” to call to 911 and provide the location, time, driver’s name, address, registration and license information, etc.
The penalties for violation of this law are steep: if the person was involved in accident resulting in serious injury and leaves the scene of the accident, it is an aggravated misdemeanor. If the driver who leaves the scene of an accident involving serious injury had reason to believe the driver’s vehicle caused the accident, it is a class “D” felony.
If the driver in an accident resulting in death leaves the scene of the accident, it is a class “D” felony. If the driver who leaves the scene of the accident resulting in death had reason to believe the driver’s vehicle caused the accident, it is a class “C” felony.
Interference with the Transportation of an Agricultural Animal
Bill: HF 655
This bill creates a crime for interfering with the transportation of an agricultural animal. The new law prohibits a person from doing the following:
– Stops, hinders, impedes, boards, obstructs, or otherwise interferes with the motor vehicle transporting an agricultural animal, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is moving.
– Provokes, disturbs, or otherwise interacts with an agricultural animal when the agricultural animal is confined in a motor vehicle, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is moving.
It is an aggravated misdemeanor for first offense and a class “D” felony for subsequent offenses.
Child Endangerment Committed by a Sex Offender
Bill: HF 710
This law creates a new class “D” felony child endangerment offense. The offense is committed if a person who is required to register as a sex offender for a sex offense against a minor knowingly has control or unsupervised access to a minor. There are exceptions if the person is a parent or married to the parent of the minor.
Super Speeder Bill
Bill: HF 753
This law is colloquially called the “Super Speeder Bill.” Under this new law, a person commits a class “C” felony if the person exceeds the speed limit by 25 miles per hour or more and if the speeding violation is the cause of the death of another person. This crime does not apply to law enforcement personnel in the performance of their duties. A person commits a Class “D” felony if a person unintentionally causes a serious injury.
New Permitless Carry Law
Bill: HF 756
Iowa gun laws underwent Major changes in the new “Firearms Omnibus Bill”. A follow up blog regarding the entire impact of the law will be forthcoming. In short, the new gun law does the following:
-Removes the crime of acquiring or carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit.
-Requires that in order to acquire a pistol or revolver from a federally licensed firearms dealer, an unlicensed individual must have a valid permit to acquire or a valid permit to carry a firearm issued in compliance with Iowa Code Chapter 724 or the individual must successfully complete a national instant criminal background check.
Certain people still are prohibited from possessing a firearm. The following persons are prohibited from acquiring a pistol or revolver:
– Individuals under the age of 21, except for those who acquire a pistol or revolver when the person’s duty requires (like a security guard or a police officer);
– Persons convicted of a felony in a state or federal court;
– Individuals prohibited by court order; and
– A person addicted to the use of alcohol;
– a person for whom there exists probable cause to believe that the person is likely to use the weapon unlawfully or in a way to endanger oneself or others based upon an action of the person within the past two years;
– persons subject to provisions of Iowa Code Section 724.26;
– a person who, within the last three years, has been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor defined in Iowa Code Chapter 708 (Assault) not involving the use of firearms;
– a person who illegally possesses a controlled substance under Iowa Code Chapter 124;
– a person who is committing an indictable offense, and
– a person who is intoxicated.
Any of these acts constitutes a serious misdemeanor.
The new law removes the existing penalty for carrying a dangerous weapon and provides that person who goes armed with a dangerous weapon on or about the person and uses the dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.
The new law prohibits the transfer of a firearm to another if the person knows or has reason to know the person receiving the firearm is prohibited from receiving a firearm, and prohibits a person from loaning or renting a firearm to another person when the person knows or reasonably should know the person being lent the firearm is prohibited from receiving it under state or federal law, new Iowa Code Section 724B, or is intoxicated. This crime constitutes a class “D” felony.
The new law also allows a person other than a peace officer to openly carry a pistol or revolver in the Iowa State Capitol Building and state-owned parking lots.
The new law also creates a duty on behalf of a person carrying a dangerous weapon whose behavior demonstrates a “reasonable suspicion of a danger to himself or others” must cooperate with the investigating officer.
These laws will be reviewed in greater depth in a subsequent blog.
Ignition Interlock Device Requirements for a First OWI
Bill: HF 757
Under the old law, in order to get a temporary restricted license after an OWI revocation, a person was required to install an ignition interlock device on ALL motor vehicles owned or operated by the person. The new law only requires the person requesting a temporary restricted license following a first OWI offense to only install an ignition interlock device on all motor vehicles operated by the person. Therefore, if the person and their spouse co-own their vehicles, the person with the OWI-related revocation would only be required to get the interlock on any vehicle they would be operating during the revocation.
NOTE: On second and subsequent OWIs, an interlock is still required on all vehicles owned and operated by the person.
Trespass, Sampling, and Surveillance of an agricultural operation.
Bill: HF 775
This law creates some new criminal offenses related to clandestine activities in agricultural production facilities. It is an aggravated misdemeanor for first offense and a class “D” felony for subsequent offenses if a person knowingly enters private property, without consent of the owner and obtains a sample of: bodily fluids or substances of agricultural animals; any product from an agricultural animal; or soil, air, surface water, or ground water from land or structures used for the production of an agricultural animal or the production of an agricultural crop.
The new law also states that a person committing a trespass who knowingly places or uses a camera or electronic surveillance device that transmits or records images or data while the device is on the trespassed property commits an aggravated misdemeanor for first offense, and a Class “D” felony for a second and subsequent offense.
Expansion of the Definition of “Sex Act” under Iowa Law
Bill: SF 172
This new law expands the definition of “sex act” to include contact between the mouth and anus of two or more persons, contact between the finger, hand, or other part of one person and the genitalia or anus of another person.
There are exceptions to the new definition: the definition does not include contact made in the course of examination or treatment by licensed professionals, or the touching of a person’s own genitals or anus with the finger, hand, artificial sexual organ or other similar device at the direction of another person.
Sexual Abuse Age Modifications
Bill: SF 253
Under the pre-2021 law, sexual abuse in the second degree meant sexual abuse which involved a child under the age of 12 years of age. The new law increases that to the age of 14 years old.
Death of a Dependent Adult
Bill: SF 450
A caretaker who intentionally or recklessly commits dependent adult abuse on a dependent adult is guilty of murder in the second degree.
Other Bills and Resolutions
Bill: SF 413
The new voting law establishes criminal penalties for failure to follow Secretary of State (SOS) guidance on election laws (Class D) and new election misconduct penalties (fines of up to $10,000 for technical violations by auditors). The new law also limits counties to utilizing a single drop box for ballots. The new poll closing time is now 8 PM. The law reduces the number of hours for time off to vote to two hours. The law now deems a voter who has not voted in the most recent general election inactive. Finally, the law reduces the time for mailing an absentee ballot or voting in-person absentee to 20-days; it prohibits auditors from sending an absentee ballot request to voters and prohibits the SOS/auditors from mailing absentee ballots out without an application.
Banning COVID Passports
Bill: HF 889
This bill prohibits state and local governments from noting on an ID that the ID holder has received a COVID vaccination and prohibits businesses and governments from requiring proof of vaccination before a person can enter. Businesses and local governments can be disqualified from receiving state contracts or grants if they do require proof of vaccination.
Back the Blue Bill
Bill: SF 342
The so-called “back the blue” bill is a sweeping piece of legislation that enacts many new provisions. Among other things, the new law shields law enforcement officers from some lawsuits in the form of qualified immunity. The new law also raises the penalty for rioting from an aggravated misdemeanor to a Class D felony.
Constitutional Amendment Regarding the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms.
This Resolution seeks a vote by the citizens of Iowa for the amendment of the Iowa Constitution to provide that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The proposed Constitutional amendment declares that the state of Iowa recognizes this right to be a fundamental right, and that any restrictions on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny. The proposed amendment will be on the ballot for the general election in November, 2022.