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No Added Punishment for Silence

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

The Iowa Supreme Court says criminal defendants cannot be punished with stiffer sentences for invoking their right to remain silent to avoid answering questions about whether they're using drugs.

Justices ruled 5-2 on Friday that a Polk County judge unfairly penalized Kenneth R. Washington III when he ordered him to complete five times as much community service than had been envisioned under a plea deal for possessing marijuana.

Washington had invoked his right against self-incrimination after Judge William Price asked whether his urine would be positive for drug use if it was tested that day.

Price ordered Washington to serve 250 hours of community service rather than the 50 hours that had been recommended by prosecutors and the defense. Justices said that was retaliation for exercising a constitutional right.


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