Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Iowa's purpose clause, last amended in 1979, is short and nearly identical to the parens patriae language found in the Standard Juvenile Court Act (1959).

IA ST §232.1

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and diversion decision is at the discretion of the juvenile court intake officer.

In Iowa, when a delinquency-related complaint is received, the designated intake officer (JPO) screens the complaint for legal sufficiency and can make the decision to proceed with an informal adjustment or request that the county attorney (DA) file the petition. If screened out, the complainant is advised that the complainant can submit the complaint to the DA for another review by the DA, and the DA’s decision would then be final. The JPO must notify the DA when felonious allegations or aggravated misdemeanor complaints are screened out. The JPO can make decisions for when to proceed with informal adjustments. Once a child admits to involvement in a delinquent act, a written agreement for informal adjustment for JPO supervision and referrals for intake services can last for up to 6 months. The child and either the parent/s or child’s attorney must consent to conditions that can include supervision and monitoring, work assignment, restitution. driving restrictions, placement/detention, participation in a batterers program (when detained related to domestic violence), etc. . Following successful completion of conditions, the child shall not be proceeded against in any court for a delinquent act alleged in the (original) petition. The JPO must notify the school of a child over age 14 when an informal adjustment is pending related to an alleged aggravated misdemeanor or felonious act.

Once a petition is filed, proceedings can be suspended or continued pursuant to a consent decree. Plea agreements are negotiated by the DA and child’s counsel. Conditions are similar to informal adjustment dispositions and can remain initially in force up to one year. The child can be discharged from jurisdiction by the court, JPO/designee, or the supervising person/agency can seek an extension of an additional year by consensus or court order. Following successful completion of conditions, the child is discharged from jurisdiction and shall not be proceeded against in any court for a delinquent act alleged in the (original) petition.

Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

In Iowa, pre-petition informal adjustment agreements can be monitored for up to 6 months. Once a petition is filed, consent decrees can have terms up to one year and be extended another year.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

In Iowa, a supreme court case affirmed the practice of applying (adult) competency statute to delinquency proceedings. Criminal Procedure (statute) comports with the Dusky standard.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


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Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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