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Criminal Defense: Assault, Drug Possession, OWI, and other crimes


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Every case is different, and the information provided here is not intended to be exhaustive. However, this will provide a basic idea of how criminal law works in Iowa courts.


Your Rights

  • You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • You have the right to a speedy and public trial and to be represented by an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint one at State expense.
  • You have the right to hear the evidence against you and subject witnesses to cross examination.
  • You have the right to testify in your defense or refuse to testify. If you refuse, the State cannot use your refusal as evidence of guilt.
  • You have the right to call witnesses to testify on your behalf.
  • You have the right to speak to the judge regarding your sentencing.
  • Note: you DO NOT have the right to a plea deal with the State.


Probation
The court may suspend a sentence and place the defendant on probation upon such terms and conditions as it may require.

Probationers are subject to the conditions established by the judicial district department of correctional services subject to the approval of the court, and any additional reasonable conditions which the court or district department may impose to promote rehabilitation of the defendant or protection of the community.
If a probation violation is established, the court may hold the defendant in contempt of court and sentence the defendant to a jail term while continuing the probation, order the defendant to be placed in a violator facility while continuing the probation, or revoke the probation and require the defendant to serve the sentence imposed or any lesser sentence.

Deferred Judgment
With the consent of the defendant, the court may defer judgment and may place the defendant on probation upon conditions as it may require.

  • Upon a showing that the defendant is not cooperating with the program of probation or is not responding to it, the court may withdraw the defendant from the program, pronounce judgment, and impose any sentence authorized by law.
  • Upon fulfillment of the conditions of probation and the payment of fees imposed, the defendant shall be discharged without entry of judgment.
  • Note: you only get two deferred judgments for your entire life. Prior to the commission of the offense the defendant had been granted a deferred judgment or similar relief, two or more times anywhere in the United States.


Punishments
Crimes are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors carry less harsh punishments and range from simple to aggravated. Felonies carry more harsh penalties and range from Class D to Class A. Note: some crimes carry specific sentences and punishment can be "enhanced" based on prior convictions.


  • Simple misdemeanor: fine between $65 and $625 and up to 30 days in jail
  • Serious misdemeanor: fine between $315 and $1,875 and up to one year in prison
  • Aggravated misdemeanor: fine between $625 and $6,250 and up to two years in prison
  • Class D felony: fine between $750 and $7,500 and up to five years in prison
  • Class C felony: fine between $1,000 and $10,000 and up to ten years in prison
  • Class B felony: up to 25 years in prison
  • Class A felony: life in prison

Common Charges


  • Assault (Iowa Code Section 708.1):
    • Any act which is intended to cause pain or injury to, or which is intended to result in physical contact which will be insulting or offensive to another, or which is intended to place another in fear of immediate physical contact which will be painful, injurious, insulting, or offensive, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act.
    • Penalties range from a simple misdemeanor to a class C felony.


  • Harassment (Iowa Code Section 708.7):
    • A person commits harassment when the person, purposefully and without legitimate purpose, has personal contact with another person, with the intent to threaten, intimidate, or alarm that other person.
    • Penalties range from a simple misdemeanor to an aggravated misdemeanor.


  • Drug Possession/Manufacture/Distribution (Iowa Code Section 124.401):
    • it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance, a counterfeit substance, or a simulated controlled substance.
    • It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled
      substance.
    • Penalties range from a serious misdemeanor to a class B felony.


  • Operating While Intoxicated (Iowa Code Section 321J.2):
    • A person commits the offense of operating while intoxicated if the person operates a motor vehicle in this state in any of the following conditions:
      • While under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or a combination of such substances
      • While having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.
      • While any amount of a controlled substance is present in the person, as measured in the person’s blood or urine.
    • Penalties range from a serious misdemeanor to a class D felony.


  • Driving While Barred (Iowa Code Section 321J.21):
    • A person whose driver's license has been suspended, denied, revoked or barred and who drives during that time is guilty of a serious misdemeanor.


  • Theft/Fraud (Iowa Code Chapter 714):
    • A person commits theft when the person takes possession or control of the property of another, or property in the possession of another, with the intent to deprive the other thereof.
    • Penalties range from a simple misdemeanor to a class C felon



Greenberg & Hurd, LLP