Residents in Iowa may think that the only goal of the Iowa State Troopers is to keep the roads safe and enforce the laws, but a recent story has some criminal justice experts questioning the methods they routinely use to obtain tremendous sums of money and property through civil forfeiture laws, even when no crime has been committed.
Being accused of a crime is a difficult event to absorb. Defendants will often seek to make a strong defense to lessen or drop some or all of the charges against them. In some matters, these allegations turn into conviction, leaving the defendant still trying to prove their innocence, even while in prison.
People in Iowa may have heard about the allegations brought against Iowa State University standout basketball player Yempabou Palo, who was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with another student back in May of 2012. The University, which is represented by the Iowa Attorney General, claims that Palo had non-consensual sex with a student, which is a violation of the University's code of student conduct. He was suspended from the basketball team, but he has since graduated from ISU, so the sanctions are more about clearing Palo's name than punishment at this point.
People in Iowa may have heard about a curious alleged kidnapping case that occurred earlier this summer in Rock Rapids. The case involved a man who claims that his wife and father-in-law drove him out to the country and locked him in a grain silo on an abandoned farm. He was able to escape the silo. He began walking down the road, but his wife and her father spotted him. They picked him back up, took him out and locking him in yet another grain silo on another abandoned farm. Again, he was able to escape and ran to a local residence, where he was able to call 911.
A recent police operation has allegedly linked nine men in Iowa to online sexual communications with a 13-year-old girl. But the chain of suspects doesn't end at the state line. Men from at least four other states have also been accused of making improper contact with the same girl. All of these man may face serious criminal charges. Sex offenses can carry serious prison sentences in Iowa, especially when the victim is a minor. If convicted the accused can also face sex offender registration requirements which may persist for years or even decades after the conviction.
People in Iowa may have heard about the new laws in effect as of July 1, which requires state law enforcement agencies to start the rollout on a massive new DNA data collection operation. The new law expands the scope of criminal offenders who will now have to submit a DNA sample that will be kept on record in an immense state and federal database of identifiable DNA signatures for an indefinite period of time.