Drug Crimes Lawyer in Des Moines, IA

Criminal Law >> Crimes and Charges in Depth >> Drug Crimes

Des Moines, Iowa Drug Crimes Lawyer

If you’ve been accused of simple possession of a controlled substance, drug trafficking or possession with intent, or OWI DUI, public intoxication, or illegal drugs offenses involving a motor vehicle, you are now a defendant in a criminal case.

Depending on the nature of your offense, mandatory minimum sentences may apply.  For some very common offenses, like OWI, the mandatory minimum sentence is relatively short: 48 consecutive hours.  For some felony offenses, you may have a guaranteed prison sentence upon conviction.

If you need a drug defense attorney who will listen to you and help you form a defense when your finances and freedom are on the line, feel free to give us a call and see whether we're able to help you with your charges. 

The first step in your case -- once we've reviewed filings and court dates and made sure you don't have any outstanding warrants -- is to see whether there's any way to get evidence in your case thrown out.  We want the prosecutor to dismiss charges or reduce charges.  That doesn't often happen, but that's the first thing to aim for.

Congratulations to Drugs

First off, in light of all of the states that have legalized and are in the process of legalizing marijuana, I'd like to congratulate drugs for winning the war on drugs.  Well played.  Drug crimes happen much less often when fewer drugs are considered crimes.

Second, Iowa hasn't legalized marijuana. Don't get caught with pot in Iowa.  We have some of the most draconian marijuana laws in the country. 

Third, there are plenty of non-marijuana substances -- some relatively harmless and others potentially really harmful -- that are also illegal to possess in Iowa.  If you're caught with one of these substances and charged with a drug crime, potential punishments range from "fairly unpleasant and may cause employment problems" to "will wreck your existing lifestyle."

We can help you figure out what to do about your drug charges in Des Moines, Polk County, Ankeny, Ames, Johnston, West Des Moines, Waukee, Saylorville, Bondurant, Altoona, Clive, Grimes, Pleasant Hill, Story County, Boone County, Marshall County, Dallas County, Jasper County, Madison County, Warren County, Marion County, Wapello County, Davis County, Ottumwa, Bloomfield, Iowa City, Council Bluffs, and the rest of Iowa.

polk county iowa criminal defense lawyers katie sears and john sears defense attorneys drug crimes drug charges

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.  Reading this site doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship.  If you want to talk to us about representing you when you've been charged with possession or other drug charges, please contact us and we’ll set up a time to talk.

What will happen if I’m charged?

When someone alleges that you have committed a crime, law enforcement will start an investigation. 

The county sheriff’s department will take you into custody if they are aware that you have active warrants.  The sheriff’s department does not have the latitude to decide whether or not to release you.  Arrest records are available online in most Iowa jurisdictions, which will help your friends and family find out where you are if you are suddenly arrested.

Depending on whether they believe there is probable cause to charge you with Iowa crimes, you could be taken to jail or given documents that say when your court date is.  After your arrest, you will be read your rights and given an opportunity to call a lawyer or a law firm.

You will be taken in front of the judge for an initial appearance.  The judge will schedule a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, you or your lawyer will have the opportunity to ask a witness questions to establish whether probable cause exists to charge you with the offense.  At this hearing, the witness will be under oath. There are reasons that your attorney might suggest waiving the preliminary hearing. You should consult with them before making a decision.

You may be confined in a correctional facility before trial if you are unable to make bail or if the court doesn't set bail. There are various factors the court may consider when deciding whether to set bail, such as the nature of your offense and any public safety concerns.

Depending on the nature of the allegations, there may be a protective order in place.  If someone has a protective order against you and tries to contact you, you should contact the sheriff’s office right away.  A law enforcement officer will take a police report.  Police officers can’t provide legal advice, but they can take you – or the protected party, if they persist in violating a no contact order – to the county jail.

Your defense attorney will let you know when you will next have to appear in front of the court.  This may be for an arraignment or you may be able to submit a written arraignment.

The county attorney’s office will review the information provided to them by the police.  They will determine what offenses to charge you with. You could be charged with a misdemeanor or with a felony.

Your attorney will let you know what the government is claiming you did, what your rights are, what the worst case scenario sentence could be, and how this could affect your criminal record. Your criminal lawyer will tell you more about the fines, terms of incarceration, and collateral consequences that might apply. Your law firm will give you legal advice on the pros and cons of taking your case to trial.  The decision of whether or not to go to trial is ultimately yours.

If you choose to go to trial, your case will be tried in district court.  The officer or officers who arrested you and investigated your case will be likely State witnesses.

If you are convicted or enter a guilty plea, you will be sentenced.  After conviction, you could be directed to pay a fine, complete probation, or to detention in jail or prison.

If you are fined, the clerk’s office may be able to help you set up a payment plan.

After conviction, you might have reason and opportunity to appeal your conviction or sentence to the court of appeals or even to the Iowa Supreme Court. The Supreme Court might even say that there was a constitutional problem with the statute you were charged under.  Ask your criminal defense attorney for more information.

What should I know about lawyers generally?

Attorneys are people who completed their bachelor’s or 4-year degrees and then went on to attend a law school, such as Drake University Law School in Des Moines.  After completing law school, Iowa lawyers take the bar exam and are evaluated for character and fitness. Iowa lawyers are admitted to the Iowa state bar. The bar association regulates the legal profession.

Some lawyers and law firms do general practice, which means they accept all kind of representation.  Some lawyers specialize in particular areas of law. A lawyer might do only civil practice or only criminal defense.  Some lawyers get even more particular than that, practicing only (or primarily) in a narrow area, such as domestic violence, sex crime, sexual abuseoperating while intoxicated, child endangerment, child abuse, indecent exposure, theft, family law, child custody, personal injurypossession of controlled substances, sex crimes, marijuanaDUI defense, arson, criminal mischief, vehicular homicide, drug offenses, traffic violationsviolent crime or drunk driving. 

Many Iowa lawyers practice only in Iowa courts. All Iowa crimes are defined in the Iowa Code.  The Iowa rules of criminal procedure control what happens in Iowa criminal justice cases.

Federal court is different. If you are facing federal charges for a federal criminal offense, make sure to let your Iowa lawyer know that so that they can give you referrals to other attorneys, if necessary. Federal courts in Iowa are not the same things as state law courts in Iowa. Federal prosecutors and federal judges use different procedural rules. Federal crimes are subject to federal sentencing.

What offenses exist in Iowa criminal law?

Criminal law offenses are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Class A felonies exist, but most people facing felony charges are facing a class B felony, a class C felony, or a class D felony. If you have questions about Iowa arson laws, you should talk to a lawyer.

What can an Iowa lawyer do for me?

If you’ve been accused of a crime, you need to be in contact with an Iowa lawyer or a law firm that works with Iowa criminal law.

If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, your Iowa criminal defense attorney can help coordinate with law enforcement to coordinate a self-surrender that doesn’t result in potential embarrassment at work or while you’re home with your family.

Your Iowa attorney will stay in touch with the county attorney’s office and let the prosecutor know whether you choose to exercise or waive your right to speedy trial.  Further, counsel can provide some guidance on whether it’s advisable in your position to consider a plea agreement or to go to trial. They will talk to you about whether a judge or jury is likely to find a particular witness credible.

Your criminal lawyer will let you know what sort of jail time you might be facing if convicted, how this will impact your criminal history, and how likely it is that you could get your charges dismissed.

Victim Resources

 Finally, there is a Victim Services Support Program available through the Iowa attorney general’s office.