- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Those who commit a misdemeanor in Dubuque in the near future might not have to worry about bail money.

Dubuque City Manager Mike Van Milligen and Assistant City Attorney Maureen Quann will ask the City Council on Monday to eliminate jail time as a penalty for misdemeanor city crimes, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1G5ZTu6 ).

The city currently follows state law, which allows the option of jail time for vandalism, theft, disorderly conduct, public intoxication and other simple misdemeanors, Quann said.

A recent Iowa Supreme Court opinion prompted the proposed change, she said. Earlier this month, the high court overturned a Polk County woman’s conviction because she was not advised of her right to a lawyer to defend against a misdemeanor theft charge, which carried a possible jail sentence.

“We don’t want to risk the possibility of getting caught in that bubble,” Quann said.

The proposal applies only to minor criminal violations of the city code.

Quann said city police officers have discretion whether to seek charges under city or state law.

“If it is a more significant violation and (police) would like the possibility of stiffer penalties, including imprisonment, they could use the state code for the charge,” she said.

Lt. Scott Baxter, a spokesman for the Dubuque Police Department, said the department supports the change. It will not have a significant impact on its operations, he said.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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