This is not intended as legal advice for any specific situation, but rather as a general overview of the Johnson County Marijuana Diversion Program. For questions about a specific situation, Student Legal Services recommends that you contact us or an attorney of your choosing.
Unlike some neighboring states, possessing marijuana in Iowa is still very much a criminal offense. If you are caught with marijuana in Iowa, you will be taken to jail. There is normally a 2 day minimum jail sentence required for anyone convicted of possessing marijuana.
That said, the Johnson County Attorney's Office (JCAO) has a program by which some defendants charged with possession of marijuana may completely avoid a criminal conviction for the charge. This is a completely voluntary program controlled by the JCAO that falls under the umbrella of prosecutorial discretion. What this means is that it is completely up to the prosecutor whether a defendant is accepted or rejected from this program. Currently, the eligibility requirements for the program are:
-Possession of less than 1.5 ounces (42g) of marijuana.
-No evidence of distribution of the marijuana.
-Eligibility for a deferred judgment-this means you cannot have had more than one prior deferred judgment or similar program from another state, and cannot have been previously convicted of a felony.
-Not currently on any form of court supervision (probation).
-No other pending charges except traffic violations or additional simple misdemeanor charges that arose at the same time as the marijuana charge.
A person who is accepted into the marijuana diversion program must COMPLETE all of the following requirements within 120 days to have their case dismissed:
-Attend the arraignment court date in person.
-Complete an application for the diversion program at the arraignment.
-Sign an agreement to participate in the diversion program and waive your right to have a trial within 90 days from the date of indictment, and agree to a resolution of additional simple misdemeanor charges.
-Complete an approved substance abuse evaluation (this can be done at student health) and complete any treatment recommended after the evaluation. You will have to pay for this out of pocket, and the cost at Student Health is approximately $300 for the evaluation and standard treatment.
-Provide a clean urinalysis drug test and give proof to the prosecutors office. This can be done at student health for a cost of $35.
-Prepay the court costs. These costs are $100 and must be paid to the clerk of courts office.
If proof of all of this is provided to the JCAO before the 120 day deadline, the case will be dismissed. But, if the defendant fails to complete all of the conditions within 120 days, or is charged with any new crimes during the diversion period, the defendant will have to return to court and the case will proceed.