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What Is the Difference Between Jail and Prison in Iowa?

"Jail" and "prison" are two words that are often used interchangeably. They are two very different things, however. So what exactly is the difference between jail and prison?

In Iowa, as in most states, jails are meant to be relatively short-term holding facilities. They are generally operated by county sheriff's departments and are used primarily to house people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial. They can also be used for individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanors and are serving sentences of less than one year.

Prisons, on the other hand, hold inmates who have been convicted of felonies and are serving their sentences. A felony is any crime that carries a penalty of one year or longer in prison. In Iowa, prisons are run at the state level by the Iowa Department of Corrections. The federal government also has a prison system.

It's important to keep in mind that even if one is found guilty of a crime or pleads guilty, prison isn't necessarily the only option. Alternative sentencing options such as drug treatment and other rehabilitation programs are often available. Prison sentences can be suspended and the individual placed on probation instead. In many cases these options can be negotiated between defense counsel and prosecutors.

A cornerstone of our criminal justice system is that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you have been arrested, you have the right to defend yourself against criminal charges. This requires a carefully planned legal strategy. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options and choose the legal strategies that can help you protect your freedom and your future.

Source: Broward County Sheriff, "What's the difference between jail and prison?" accessed Sept. 30, 2016

Categories
  • The Iowa State Bar Association
  • DUI Defense Law
  • NACDL
  • AAJ
  • Iowa Association of Justice

Keegan, Tindal, & Jaeger 

Put Over 50 Years of Combined Trial Experience On Your Side 
  • J. Dean Keegan
  • Eric D. Tindal
  • Andrea D. Jaeger
  • J. Dean Keegan J. Dean Keegan

    Owner

    Decades of Award-Winning Legal Service J. Dean Keegan was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. After high school, Dean served ...
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  • Eric D. Tindal Eric D. Tindal

    Attorney

    Highly Rated Criminal Defense in Iowa City Eric D. Tindal, attorney at Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, graduated from the University ...
    Eric D. Tindal Photo
  • Andrea D. Jaeger Andrea D. Jaeger

    Attorney

    Experienced Criminal Defense in the Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities Andrea D. Jaeger practices in the areas of white collar ...
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See What Our Clients Have to say

  • I am glad he was there to get my head out of the guillotine when I needed him and keep my record clean.

    “I was stopped for an OWI. Dean took things as far as he could with the appeals process, finding every way possible to keep me driving in the meantime (which I needed to do for my job). Dean argued the ...”

    - Ryan
  • My family and friends appreciate all you have done. Thank you.

    “Thank you, Andrea and Eric. You both did a great job and got me the best results possible in my situation. I would recommend your service to any in need of counsel and I am still amazed in the way ...”

    - Michael
  • Andrea Jaeger is the best defense attorney in the world.

    “Andrea Jaeger is the best defense attorney in the world. She gets the job done for her clients. She goes hard for the best results. She would always be my first choice of defense. She is very ...”

    - Orlando
  • Eric helped give me my life back

    “I was charged with two felonies that carried a life sentence. After sitting in jail for a year with public defenders just going through the motions, I asked the judge to appoint new counsel. Eric was ...”

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  • This is the guy you want!

    “Eric is the whole package. He will fight relentlessly for you, all the while using tact and professionalism. Eric always respected my best interests and kept them his top priority. He is incredibly ...”

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Protecting Your Freedom & Rights
  • First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Causing Death Acquitted of First Degree Murder at Trial

    Henry County FECR005634. Attorney Tindal’s client was charged with First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Causing Death. Following a two week trial, the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charges Reduced, No Incarceration Imposed

    Muscatine County FECR056673. Vehicular Homicide was reduced to Involuntary Manslaughter. Total sentence was suspended.

  • Felony Drug Charges Charges Dismissed

    Muscatine County FECR050038. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with two counts of controlled substance violation, as well as two counts of failure to affix tax stamp. After a year of court appearances and negotiating with the prosecutor, all charges were dismissed with costs assessed to the State.

  • Carrying Weapons, Public Intoxication, & Disorderly Conduct Carrying Weapons & Public Intoxication Charges D

    Linn County AGCR108044. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with Carrying Weapons, Public Intoxication, and Disorderly Conduct. After plea negotiations with the State, Mr. Keegan was successful in dismissing the Carrying Weapons and Public Intoxication charges.

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges Dismissed

    Iowa County FECR010358. Attorney Tindal was able to show the Court that his client was detained in violation of his Constitutional rights and that the K9 utilized in the search was unreliable. Following hearing all charges were dismissed.

  • Embezzlement No Criminal Charges Filed

    Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa. An employee of a Cedar Rapids business accused of embezzling six million dollars was not charged criminally after the County Attorney agreed to abide by an agreement negotiated by Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerald Kinnamon in which the accused would pay two million dollars to the company.

  • Second Degree Sexual Abuse and Other Charges Acquittal at Trial

    Johnson County FECR089277. The Defendant was charged with Second Degree Sexual Abuse and other charges. Following a one-week trial by Mr. Tindal, the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.

  • Trafficking Stolen Weapons and Misdemeanor Theft Charge Dismissed

    Scott County FECR384046. The Defendant was charged with Trafficking Stolen Weapons and Misdemeanor Theft. The Court dismissed the felony following a Motion litigated by Mr. Tindal. The Defendant subsequently pled to the remaining misdemeanor.

  • Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana and Methamphetamine Charges Dismissed

    Washington Count FECR5351. Attorney Tindal and Attorney Clemens Erdahl successfully argued that evidence of drug manufacture was obtained in violation of the Constitution. All charges were dismissed.

  • Operating While Intoxicated 3rd Offense Charge Dismissed

    Linn County OWCR104143. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with a felony 3rd offense OWI. Mr. Keegan argued the officer did not have reasonable grounds to pull over his client. The charges were dropped from a felony to a ticket fine of $15.00 for being in a park past closing time.

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