The Iowa Supreme Court recently changed its interpretation of the speedy indictment laws, which will affect the rights of those accused or arrested for crimes. This comes just seven years after the prior precedent originally was set.
The ruling states that for purposes of the speedy indictment rules, a defendant is arrested officially when they are taken into custody and appear before a magistrate judge. It replaces the prior legal interpretation of law that held “an arrest is made when a person is physically detained and a reasonable person would believe an arrest occurred,” and starting the timeline at that point even if the person was not taken in to have an appearance before a magistrate. Hence, under the new interpretation, the speedy indictment timeline does not start to run unless the arrest is completed by the individual being taken before a magistrate.
This new ruling came in a case involving three men charged with drugging and raping two 15-year-old girls in Waterloo. In June of 2012, officers took the men into custody, questioned them, and took DNA samples. They were not charged until November 2013, when the results of the lab test were received. Due to the length of time between the custody, questioning and charging, the Iowa Court of Appeals dismissed the charges. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the charges against the three men.