Sioux City sidewalk

According to a Sioux City ordinance, it is unlawful to spit or expectorate on public sidewalks and several other places in town. But, according to amendments underway in the city code, such an offense would not land you in jail. 

SIOUX CITY | Getting caught tossing trash on the ground in Sioux City will soon no longer carry the possibility of jail time.

But it could still get you a fine. 

Over the years, incarceration has been an option -- although a seldom-used one -- for several city code violations. For example, littering could carry up to 30 days in jail or a fine between $100 and $500. Spitting on a public sidewalk? Also up to 30 days, according to code, or a fine between $65 and $625.

But the Sioux City Council on Monday scaled back the number of violations that specify imprisonment as an optional penalty.  

City attorney Nicole DuBois told the Journal the impetus for the change is an upcoming modification to Iowa Code that goes into effect next year in which cities could have to reimburse defense costs in cases where defendants who meet certain requirements are being prosecuted for a misdemeanor municipal ordinance violation that carries jail as an option for sentencing.

DuBois said with this change in mind, the city conducted a review of its code and eliminated the jail time penalty from several actions, while keeping those the Police Department believed still needed to carry the penalty, such as the sections on disorderly conduct, assault, criminal mischief and others. 

The most significant change comes in the general penalty section referred to in many sections of the code, where "imprisonment not to exceed 30 days" has been removed as a penalty option, although the potential for a fine between $65 and $625 remains.

Jail time is "virtually never considered as an option for punishment" for the violations where the penalty has been eliminated, according to City Council agenda documents. 

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City hall reporter

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