Forcible Felonies

Having a felony on your record dooms most people's employment prospects. A forcible felony conviction may be even more damning -- a forcible felonies will make you seem like a violent, scary person. Conviction could cost you your job, your friends, and your reputation.

Des Moines Forcible Felony Lawyers

At Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, we defend the rights and liberties of good people who are accused of bad things. An Iowa forcible felony attorney might be able to save you from paying thousands in fines and spending time locked up away from your family.

Get out of trouble and get back to life. Call Katherine Sears at Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, now at (515) 491 6128 to set up a free consultation. A receptionist is available 24/7 to take your call.

The criminal defense lawyers at Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, are based in Des Moines and Ankeny and represent defendants throughout Polk County and the rest of Iowa.

What is a forcible felony?

"A “forcible felony” is any felonious child endangerment, assault, murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, robbery, human trafficking, arson in the first degree, or burglary in the first degree. " - Iowa Code 702.11


These things are not forcible felonies:

  • Willful injury in violation of section 708.4(2).
  • Sexual abuse in the third degree committed between spouses.
  • Sexual abuse in violation of section 709.4(1)(b)(3)(d).
  • Sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee in violation of section 709.15.
  • Child endangerment subject to penalty under section 726.6(6).
  • Assault in violation of section 708.2(4).
  • Domestic abuse assault in violation of section 708.2A(5).
  • Removal of an officer’s communication or control device in violation of section 708.12(3)(f).

Minimum sentencing

If you're convicted of a forcible felony and the jury finds that you:

  • Represented that you had a dangerous weapon
  • Displayed a dangerous weapon in a threatening way
  • Were armed with a dangerous weapon while you participated in the forcible felony

You will have to spend five years in prison before being eligible for parole.

No deferred or suspended judgments or sentences

Iowa Code 907.3 won't permit the judge to grant you a deferred judgment, deferred sentence, or suspended sentence following a forcible felony conviction.

Defense lawyers for forcible felonies 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 forcible felonies katherine sears

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 your Iowa forcible felony charges, please contact us at (515) 491 6128 and we’ll set up a time to talk.

What will happen if I’m charged?

When someone alleges that you have forcibly committed a felony, 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 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 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, possession 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 forcible felony lawyers do for me?

If you’ve been accused of a forcible felony, you need to be in contact with an Iowa forcible felony lawyer or 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 felony lawyer 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.