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Criminal Law in Iowa

If you’re researching Iowa criminal defense attorneys, it is likely not a good thing. You need help and you need it fast.

If you need a defense lawyer, we’ll bottom-line how to find one fast. Enter “How to find a Iowa Criminal Defense Attorney” into your favorite search engine.

  • Many criminal defense law firms respond day or night.
  • Many criminal defense law firms offer a free consultation.
  • Ask questions about fees, what to expect, and how the lawyer can help. Then, make your attorney selection and hire.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Iowa criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in Iowa; and
  • How to work with your Iowa criminal defense attorney.

Iowa Criminal Laws

Iowa criminal laws are found in the Iowa Code. A “code” organizes laws by topic (not date of enactment) making legal research intuitive.

There are many crimes listed in the Iowa Code, including drunk driving (OWI), prostitution, robbery, bad checks, marijuana possession, child abuse, weapon offenses, arson, and assisted suicide.

Your criminal defense lawyer will explain the crime that you’ve been charged with.

Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred. If the statute of limitations has passed in a case, charges cannot be brought.

For example, in Iowa, the statute of limitations for:

  • Kidnapping is 3 years (Iowa Code В§802.3).
  • Assault and Battery is 3 years (Iowa Code В§802.3).
  • Rape is 3 or 10 years, depending upon the facts of the case (Iowa Code В§802.2 or В§802.3).

One of the first things your defense attorney will check is whether the statute of limitations has passed in your case.

If criminal laws are broken and you are convicted, probation, jail time, fines, restitution, education, counseling, driver’s license suspension, and community service may be required.

In Iowa, sentencing guidelines call for the following OWI (“Operating While Intoxicated”) penalties.

  • The first OWI offense is classified as a serious misdemeanor. There is a minimum penalty 48 hours in jail and a maximum of 1 year in jail. Fines can be as high as $1,500.

  • The second OWI offense (within 6 years)is classified as an aggravated misdemeanor. There is a minimum penalty of7 days in jail and a maximum of 2 years in jail. Fines can be as high as $5,000.

  • The third OWI offense (within 6 years)is classified as a Class D felony. There is a minimum penalty of 30 days in jail and a maximum of 5 years in jail. Fines can be as high as $7,500.

We’ve included OWI punishments because they are so common. Ask your criminal defense lawyer to explain the punishments you are facing for the crime you are charged with.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

  • You need a criminal defense attorney even if you know you are completely innocent.
  • You may be not guilty and not know it.
  • The sooner you hire a lawyer, the better. Evidence needs to be preserved and your legal rights must be protected.
  • If you have been arrested, meaning that police do not allow you to leave the police station or wherever you are, you need a lawyer. You don’t have to hear the words, “You are under arrest” or be read your Miranda rights to be protected.
  • You cannot rely on what you’ve seen on TV. Television is not real; there are legal technicalities that are best handled by experienced legal counsel.
  • You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it. (Attorney/client communications are confidential.)
  • Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney. Your words can be used against you. (Nothing is confidential when speaking to the police.)

How to Work with an Iowa Criminal Defense Lawyer

Your lawyer is your advocate; all actions or inactions are to help you and your case. Always keep this in mind, even when you don’t understand or are frustrated. Your attorney is on your side, always.

However, your attorney can’t go it alone. You need to help by doing these things:

  • Remember anything you say to a criminal defense attorney will be held in confidence. Disclose all, even if the facts put you in a bad light. Your lawyer needs to know.
    • Answer the questions your lawyer asks of you.
    • Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
  • Return all law firm phone calls promptly.
  • Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
  • Make sure the criminal defense law office always has your current address and phone number.
  • Be polite even if your lawyer asks difficult questions or is polite and cooperative with the police and prosecutors.

If you have been questioned in or arrested for a crime in Iowa, get good legal help, immediately. You need individualized advice, aggressive representation, and a strong defense strategy. After all, your entire future is at risk.

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