If a criminal defendant has a pending Class C or Class D felony charge in Iowa and has two prior felony convictions in Iowa or another state, the State may seek to impose the habitual offender enhancement on the pending felony charge. The habitual offender enhancement is recidivist statute designed to punish violators who have not responded to prior convictions and punishments.
The habitual offender enhancement is not a separate criminal offense; rather, it is a sentencing enhancement of a pending Class C or D felony offense. The State notifies the defendant in the Trial Information, the formal charging document, of its intent to seek imposition of the habitual offender enhancement. The defendant must first plead guilty to or be found guilty of the pending Class C or D felony. Then, the defendant has the option to stipulate to the prior felony convictions or may proceed to a jury trial on the prior convictions.
If convicted as a habitual offender, a defendant faces imprisonment not to exceed fifteen years and is not eligible for parole unless the defendant serves at least three years in prison. The fifteen year prison sentence can be suspended, and the court may place the defendant on probation under appropriate circumstances. If convicted as a habitual offender, the court may not impose a fine.