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Applications for Modification and Fortune v. Iowa

In April of 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court finally changed the unfair way that applications for modifications are handled in Iowa.  No longer can punitive response to past criminal offense be the focus, only an applicant’s present danger or threat to public safety.  The case is called Fortune v. Iowa, and it lays out everything you need to get off the registry.

If you’re not already aware, applications for modification are documents you can file with the court to change your registry requirements, or be removed completely.  The Fortune case created steps for the courts to follow when handling these applications.  The court needs to determine that you are not incarcerated, and that you have been registered for at least 2 years if you are a tier I offender, and at least 5 years if you are a tier II or III offender.  If you are under supervision, the Department of Corrections will also need to stipulate to the modification.

Next, the court needs to confirm you have completed all of your sex offender treatment programs.  Finally, you need to undergo a risk assessment that shows you are low risk to reoffend.  If you don’t know how to complete either of these items, or even if you have had difficulty with these in the past, Mr. Berger can help, and can get you connected with the right people to get the process moving forward successfully.

The Iowa Supreme Court really focused on the public safety aspect in the Fortune case.  They could see the evidence being reviewed for modifications was being viewed incorrectly, and unfairly towards the applicants.  Before Fortune, the district courts were free to consider any evidence it found relevant to the issue, but there was no guidance on how it should be viewed.  It was clear that applicant’s underlying offenses, were being used to punish them, instead of being used as facts to determine whether the applicant posed any risk to public safety at the current time.  Criminal sentencing is designed to punish an offender, while modification in this case, is to protect the public, and the evidence in both matters is to be viewed differently.  Today, the courts can now only review appropriate evidence that bears on whether the applicant is at low risk to reoffend, and there is no substantial risk to public safety in extending the registration requirements.

Thanks to the Fortune case, in Iowa today the focus in modifications is on present danger, not punitive responses to past crimes.  Mr. Berger has achieved success in all cases of this kind.  The Fortune case reinforced how unfair Iowa registration requirements can be, but now there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Contact Mr. Berger today for a free consultation.

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