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Potential changes in robbery sentencing on the horizon

Over the past three years, the Public Safety Advisory Board in Iowa has been calling for a change in sentencing requirements for those convicts robber. The Iowa House of Representatives listened, and on March 3, the House unanimously passed an amendment concerning the sentencing patterns of a person convicted of second-degree robbery.

Currently, a ten year sentence is mandatory for this offense, and those convicted must serve at least seven years of this sentence before they are eligible for parole. The amendment gives more flexibility to the judges, and would allow them to hand down a minimum sentence that is between three and seven years for these offenders.

Additionally, the Iowa Board of Parole would be given more power in these matters, as well. This entity would be able to grant parole to those convicted of second-degree robbery once they have served at least 30 percent of their sentence. However, parole will be reserved for first-time or low-risk offenders.

This potential change in the criminal justice system seems to be a positive one, as the judge would be able to determine themselves whether a second-degree robbery is truly worthy of a ten year sentence.

With the expanded flexibility, it seems that those that represent the accused of a second-degree robbery must be extra diligent when it comes to preparing a defense for these cases. These attorneys could greatly affect the amount of time their clients are sentenced. A three-year sentence is a lot shorter than a seven-year one.

The unanimous decision of the Iowa House seems to reflect the popularity of this bill. However, it has not made its way through the Senate or the governor's desk. Only time will tell if these proposed changes will be set in stone.

Source: The Des Moines Register, "Iowa House tweaks mandatory sentencing laws," Kathy A. Bolten, March 4,2016

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