Drug Possession in Iowa

At Angela Reyes Law, we have experience in all kinds of drug possession and penalties. It should be remembered that Marijuana is still illegal in Iowa while legal in Illinois and Iowa is still prosecuting Marijuana laws with vigor. The best thing you can do is not use it in Iowa and not to drive with it in your system because the current police trend is to pull you over for small things with the intent to charge you with Operating While Impaired from a substance by requesting a breath, blood, or urine sample from you and suspending your license for a year if you do not consent to the tests. For possessing or delivering drugs your cases are Felonies in Iowa and the case can go Federal if the amount is significant.
All states, including Iowa, regulate and control the possession of controlled substances, though each state differs in its exact definitions and the penalties for drug possession.
Iowa’s classifications of controlled substances (except marijuana) and the penalties for illegal possession. (Check out Iowa Marijuana Laws to learn how the state regulates possession of weed.)

Iowa divides-controlled substances into five schedules—Schedules I to V. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and highly addictive, while schedule V drugs are the least dangerous and the least addictive. Below are some examples of drugs placed into each schedule.
Schedule I drugs include Heroin, Mdna, Lsd, mescaline, and psilocybin.
Schedule II drugs include raw opium, codeine, oxycodone, morphine, cocaine, carfentanil, fentanyl, and meth.
Schedule III drugs include ketamine, pentobarbital, and testosterone.
Schedule IV drugs include barbital, diazepam, lorcaserin, and butorphanol.
Schedule V drugs include ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and cough suppressants and other medicines containing codeine or morphine.
For a complete list of scheduled drugs, consult Chapter 124 in the most recent version of the Iowa Code.
(Iowa Code §§ 124.204 to .212 (2022).)

Possession offenses (unlike sales offenses) for controlled substances all carry the same general penalty regardless of their schedules, except for marijuana. Penalties are based on whether the defendant is a first-time drug offender or a repeat drug offender. Enhanced penalties, however, apply only to schedule I, II, and III drugs.
Penalties for Illegal Possession of Controlled Substances
Below are the punishments for a first, second, third, or subsequent offense.
First conviction. A first conviction for possession is a Serious Misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of between $430 and $2,565, up to one year in jail, or both.
Second conviction. A second conviction is an aggravated misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of between $855 and $8,540 and up to two years of incarceration.
Third and subsequent convictions. A third or subsequent conviction is a class D Felony. Penalties include a fine of between $1,025 and $10,245, up to five years in prison, or both.
(Iowa Code § 124.401 (2022).)

In addition to the above penalties, a judge may impose 100 hours of Community Service if the defendant committed a possession crime involving a schedule I, II, or III drug:

  • on a school bus, or
  • in, on, or within 1,000 feet of an elementary or high school, a public park, a swimming pool, or a recreation center. (Iowa Code §124.401B (2022).)

Iowa law also makes it a crime to possess drug paraphernalia which includes any equipment used to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce the drug into the human body. A conviction results in a simple misdemeanor. (Iowa Code § 124.414 (2022).)

In drug possession cases, a defense attorney may raise several arguments to challenge the prosecution's case. The prosecutor must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Drug possession crimes generally require proof that the defendant had actual or constructive drug possession of the drugs and knew what the drugs were. If the prosecutor can't prove the defendant possessed the drug or knew what it really was, this may lead a jury to find you not guilty. For example, a defendant might argue they thought the white pills were aspirin or that they had no idea how the drugs got into their gym bag.

Another common defense strategy in drug possession cases is to challenge the legality of the search that led to finding the drugs. If police conducted an illegal search typically, the evidence (the drugs) must be excluded. Without evidence of the drugs, the prosecution doesn't have much of a case. But we must file a Motion to Suppress within a designated time frame.

Any evidence police or others gather that resulted from a drug overdose emergency call cannot be used in a criminal case for possession charges. These protections apply to the overdose patient who calls for help or the person reporting the overdose. To fall under these protections, a person who reports the overdose must remain on the scene and cooperate with authorities. (Iowa Code § 124.418 (2022).)