New Laws Taking Effect July 1st – 2019

July 1st is when most of the newly enrolled bills, passed in the legislative session and signed into law by the Governor, take effect.  We've selected the new laws that we believe will have the greatest, immediate impact on Iowans and have summarized them below.

Elimination of Right to Appeal Certain Convictions – SF 589

This legislation eliminates the right of a defendant to appeal a final judgment of a sentence in the following cases:

  1. A simple misdemeanor conviction;
  2. An ordinance violation;
  3. A conviction where the defendant has pled guilty, except for guilty pleas for class “A” felonies or where the defendant establishes good cause.

This bill also modified existing law int eh following areas:

  • Guilty Pleas – Defendant appealing a plea of guilty based upon a defect in the plea proceeding is now required to prove that they woudl more likely than not have pled guilty.  This also applies to motions in arrest of judgment.
  • General Verdicts – If a jury returns a general verdict in a case where the prosecution relied upon multiple theories to prove the offense, this statute directs the appellate court to uphold the conviction unless every theory is found to be lacking in evidentiary support.
  • Discretionary Review – Limits appellate review from an order denying a motion in arrest of judgment on any grounds other than ineffective assistance of counsel, to discretionary review.
  • Pro Se Filings Prohibited – Prohibits represented criminal defendants from filing pro se documents in any Iowa court and instructs the court and counsel to ignore those filings.  Pro se motions requesting disqualification of counsel are permitted though.
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel – Directs that ineffective assistance of counsel claims will not be decided on direct appeal from criminal prosecutions.  Limits raising this issue to a separate postconviction relief proceeding.

Expungements – SF 589 – Iowa Code section 901C.3

A person can now get an expungement of any misdemeanor (but there are numerous exceptions) as long as the person establishes that more than eight years have passed since the date of the conviction, the defendant has no pending criminal charges, and all court costs, fees, fines, and restitution and other financial obligations ordered by the court or assessed by the clerk of the district court have been paid.

Exceptions (i.e. things that can’t be expunged):

  • convictions for dependent adult abuse under Code section 235B.20;
  • convictions for operating a motor vehicle with an invalid driver’s license under Code section 321.218, 321A.32, or 321J.21;
  • convictions for operating while intoxicated under Code section 321J.2;
  • convictions for sex offenses as defined in Code section 692A.101;
  • a conviction for involuntary manslaughter under Code section 707.5;
  • a conviction for assault involving a dangerous weapon under Code section 708.2(3);
  • convictions for domestic abuse assault under Code section 708.2A;
  • convictions for harassment under Code section 708.7;
  • a conviction for stalking under Code section 708.11;
  • convictions for removal of an officer’s communication or control device under Code section 708.12;
  • convictions for trespass under Code section 716.8(3) or (4);
  • convictions for bestiality under Code section 717C.1;
  • convictions under Code chapter 719 (obstructing justice);
  • convictions under Code chapter 720 (interference with judicial process);
  • convictions under Code section 721.2 (nonfelonious conduct in office);
  • convictions under Code section 721.10 (misuse of public records and files);
  • convictions under Code section 723.1 (riot);
  • convictions under Code chapter 724 (weapons);
  • convictions under Code chapter 726 (protections of the family and dependent persons);
  • convictions under Code chapter 728 (obscenity);
  • convictions under Code chapter 901A (sexually predatory offenses);
  • a conviction for a comparable offense listed in 49 C.F.R. §383.51(b) (table 1) or 49 C.F.R. §383.51(e) (table 4) (commercial driver’s licenses);
  • and any conviction under prior law of an offense comparable to an offense enumerated in the bill.

In addition, the bill does not apply to a defendant who is the subject of a protective order or a no-contact order; or a defendant who has previously been granted two deferred judgments.

Public Intoxication – SF 589

Enhancements for second and subsequent public intoxication convictions are removed.  All public intoxication convictions are now simple misdemeanors.

Raising Dollar Amounts on Property Crimes – SF 589

In the Omnibus Bill, the Legislature increased the amount of damages that a victim incurs as it relates to certain offense levels.  They are as follows:

  • Arson 2nd degree-must cause $750 in damage instead of $500- Class C Felony
  • Theft 2nd– D Felony range is now $1500 to 10,000
  • Theft 3rd– aggravated misdemeanor new range: $750-$1500
  • Theft 4th– serious misdemeanor $300-750
  • Theft 5th– simple $300 or less

Fraudulent practice under Chapter 715A, Criminal Mischief under Chapter 716 and Railroad Vandalism under Chapter 716 follow the same sales as Theft.

Robbery – SF 589

The Omnibus Bill removed the requirement that a person convicted of robbery in the first degree be denied parole or work release unless the person has served at least 70% of the maximum term of the person’s sentence. Now, a person serving a sentence for a conviction of robbery in the first degree, who was convicted on or after July 1, 2018, shall be required to serve between 50-70% of the maximum term of the person’s sentence before parole or work release (as determined by the court).

This bill also repealed the offense of Robbery in the 3rd Degree and instead revised the crime of Aggravated Theft.

Aggravated Theft  – SF 589

The crime is an aggravated misdemeanor or a class “D” felony depending upon the circumstances of the crime. Under current law, a person commits aggravated theft when the person commits a simple assault after the person has removed or attempted to remove property not exceeding $200. A person who commits aggravated theft, and who has previously been convicted of an aggravated theft, robbery in the first degree in violation of section 711.2, robbery in the second degree in violation of section 711.3, or extortion in violation of section 711.4, is guilty of a class “D” felony.

Statute of Limitations for Certain Sexual Offenses – SF 589

Increases the statute of limitations for prosecutions of certain sexual offenses against minors to 15 years after a minor turns 18 years old, up from 10 years after the minor turned 18.

Offenses impacted include 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree sexual abuse committed against a minor and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree sexual abuse, incest, and sexual exploitation committed by a counselor, therapist, or school employee against a minor.

Habitual OWI Felony Offenders – SF 113 – Iowa Code section 321J.2

The bill, in part, is a response to the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in Noll v. Iowa Dist. Court for Muscatine Cty., 919 N.W.2d 232 (Iowa 2018), in which the Iowa Supreme Court stated that a person convicted for OWI 3rd offense could not be sentenced as a habitual offender, in essence tripling the person’s maximum sentence.

This bill allows a person who was twice before convicted of a Class “D” or “C” felony and who was convicted of an OWI third offense to be sentenced as a habitual offender, increasing the maximum sentence from 5 years in prison to 15 years in prison and requiring the person to serve a minimum of 3 years if convicted as a habitual offender.

Agricultural Production Facility Trespass – SF 519 – Iowa Code section 717A.3B

This bill relates the criminal offense of agricultural production facility trespass which involves the use of deception to obtain access to a facility, which is not open to the public, with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the facility’s operations, property, or persons. The offense also involves obtaining employment with the agricultural production facility by deception with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the facility’s operations, property, or persons.

A person who commits agricultural production facility trespass is guilty of a serious misdemeanor for a first offense and an aggravated misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense. The bill also expressly provides for the application of the conspiracy statute. A person convicted of conspiracy under the bill’s provisions is guilty of a misdemeanor of the same class as the underlying offense. This bill took effect on March 14, 2019.

Disqualifications of Felons from Holding Certain Professional Licenses – SF 567 – Iowa Code section 103.6

Prohibits the electrical examining board and the plumbing and mechanical systems board from denying a professional license to a person based upon a felony conviction.  However, it does provide for the denial, revocation or suspension of those licenses if an individual is convicted of sexual abuse, a sexually violent offense, dependent adult abuse, a forcible felony, or domestic abuse assault. 

Female Genital Mutilation – SF 346 – Iowa Code section 708.16

Creates the new criminal offense of female genital mutilation.  "A person who knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates, in whole or in part, the labia majora, labia minora, or clitoris of a minor commits a class "D" felony.

A person who knowingly transports a minor outside of the state for purposes of performaing such a procedure also commits a class "D" felony.

Lascivious Conduct With a Minor – HF 224 – Amends Iowa Code section 709.14

This bill clarifies and creates new levels of offenses under this code section based upon the conduct of the offender.  The conduct and level of offense can be summarized as follows:

  • Convince to disrobe or partially disrobe = Serious Misdemeanor.
  • Touch the inner thigh, groing buttock, anus or breast or touch the clothing covering those immediate areas; or solicit the minor to touch those areas of the offender = Serious Misdemeanor.
  • Touch the pubes or genitals of the minor or permit or cause the minor to touch the offender's genitals or pubes; cause the touching of the offender's genitals to any part of the body of hte minor; solicit the minor to engage in a sex act or to arrange a sex act; or inflict pain or discomfort upon the minor = Aggravated Misdemeanor.

The bill also limits the age of the victim under this code section to a minor ages 14 to 15.  Ages 13 and under are already covered by a separate offense, Lascivious Conduct with a Child.  Age 16 is the age of consent in Iowa.