Police Searches and Iowa Search and Seizure

Evidence Suppression for Case Dismissal

Law enforcement agencies are always looking for probable cause of criminal activity to justify seeking an Iowa search warrant.  If police illegally searched you or your property, a licensed Iowa attorney can ask the judge to exclude the evidence they found.

If someone completes a search warrant application that gives the police department probable cause to believe that they'll find evidence of a crime, a magistrate or other judge could sign off on an arrest warrant or on a search warrant. 

Depending on whether the police are searching for you (to arrest you) or for evidence to support a criminal charge, a police officer might even give you a call to let you know that they’re bringing the criminal investigation to your doorstep.  The County sheriff’s office probably won’t let you know that investigators are on their way if they plan to search your person or property for drug paraphernalia, illegal drugs or other evidence of drug trafficking, or other drug crimes under Iowa law.  They might, however, give you a call if they’re looking to arrest you.

If you've been charged with a crime in Iowa, your attorney will consider the details of your case before advising you about what to do.

Many police searches require warrants, but some don't.  If police did something wrong, some evidence against you may not be admissible at trial. If the state doesn't have enough admissible evidence to convict you, your case may be dismissed.

A dismissal is the best outcome you can hope for in a criminal case.  It's important to understand your rights.

Iowa Constitutional Rights and Police Search Warrant Requirement

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees your right to be safe from unreasonable seizures and searches.” Article 1, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution guarantees the same right. If the police search you or your belongings, they often need a warrant.  (A police search warrant is different than a bench warrant.)

The police may not need a warrant if you or someone else consents to a search. If an officer asks for your permission to look around, you should tell him or her that you don't consent to any searches. If you don't consent to a search but the police search anyway, your attorney will talk to you about if this helps your case.

In addition to police searches you consented to, there are other times the police can search and take evidence without a warrant. These times include searches that happen when you're being arrested, searches following an exigent circumstance, a law enforcement officer seizing evidence that's in plain view, and more.

Motions to Suppress After Police Searches

If you think the police may have searched you in violation of your fourth amendment Constitutional rights, call an Iowa criminal defense attorney. A lawyer evaluate whether or not there was an unreasonable search. A lawyer may be able to write a motion to suppress evidence. Suppressing an illegal search could end your case entirely and get your life back to normal. It's important to talk about whether any searches that happened to you were unconstitutional.

Illegal searches sometimes follow traffic stops.

In reviewing a search or seizure, your lawyer will consider many factors:

  • Was this a warrantless search?
  • Did the law enforcement agent have
  • Did the magistrate have probable cause supporting a warrant's issuance?
  • Was the search unreasonable under the circumstances?
  • Did you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area searched?
  • Did the officer have reasonable cause or reasonable suspicion?
  • Was the law enforcement official aware of illegal contraband, drug possession, or other illegal activity?
  • Did the affidavit comport with legal requirements?

If your seizure attorney concludes that an unlawful search may have violated your 4th amendment protections, she may ask the judge in your criminal cases to apply the exclusionary rule.

Iowa Criminal Defense Lawyers

Related posts:

If you've been charged with a crime in Iowa and want to talk to us about an illegal police search, call (515) 491 6128, click "chat now" on any page on this website, or go to the "Contact Us" page to send us an email.

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.

If you've been charged with possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, OWI, or other public offenses in Iowa, ask your attorney whether there are grounds to have any of the state's evidence suppressed.

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Criminal defense lawyers  in Des Moines IA and surrounding areas.

We can help you figure out what to do about your criminal 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.

What will happen if I’m charged?

When someone accuses you of a crime, law enforcement will investigate. Then, if a judge finds probable cause, you could go to jail. Once in jail, you might be let out on bond. Pretrial release might let you out. You might not be let out at all.

Instead of sending you to jail, the judge might give you papers. Those papers will tell you when your court date is. After your arrest. police will read you your rights. Then, they will give you time to call an intimidation attorney or a law firm. 

Preliminary Hearing

At an initial appearance, you will see a judge. The judge might schedule a preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing, you or your lawyer will ask questions. One or more witnesses will be under oath. After the questions, the judge will decide whether probable cause exists.

Your attorney might suggest waiving the preliminary hearing. Before deciding, consult your lawyer. Alternatively, the prosecutor might file the "trial information" before the preliminary hearing. If so, there won't be a preliminary hearing.


Your attorney tell you about your next court date. After your preliminary hearing happens (or after you receive the trial information,) you will have an  arraignment.


Police will give reports to the county attorney's office. Then, the county attorney's office will review the information. After the prosecutor reads the reports, they will decide what offenses to charge you with. For instance, a prosecutor might charge you with a misdemeanor. Alternatively, they could accuse you of a felony.

Your defense lawyer will tell you what the government accused you of. Moreover, they will explain your rights. You also need to know how this could affect your criminal record. In short, they will tell you about the worst case scenario. A 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. Specifically, they will explain the pros and cons of taking your case to trial. After all, only you can decide whether or not to accept a plea offer. 

Finally, if a jury convicts you, you can probably appeal. The court of appeals hears appellate arguments. So does the Iowa Supreme Court. Because they review legal issues, they might find a constitutional problem. That means that the law can be illegal. Alternatively, the district court might have treated a legal law illegally. However, the right to appeal does not apply to simple misdemeanors. Ask your criminal defense attorney for more information.


What should I know about lawyers generally?

Attorneys completed their bachelor’s or 4-year degrees. Thereafter, they went to law school. One example is Drake University Law School. That school is in Des Moines.  Afterward, Iowa lawyers take the bar exam. Thereafter, a committee evaluates their character and fitness. The Iowa State Bar admits Iowa lawyers. The Iowa bar association regulates the legal profession.

Some lawyers and law firms do general practice. In light of that, they accept all kind of representation.  In contrast, some lawyers specialize in particular areas of law. For example, a lawyer might do only civil practice. When a lawyer does civil work, they might handle divorces. Additionally, the Iowa lawyer might represent small claims cases. Further, a civil practice lawyer could do personal injury work. In another case, the lawyer might focus on family law or child custody.

Alternatively, some lawyers practice only criminal defense.  Some lawyers get even more particular. For instance, a lawyer might take only domestic violence defense. Another lawyer might focus on sex crime, sexual abuse, operating while intoxicated, child endangerment, child abuse, indecent exposure, theft, possession of controlled substances, sex crimes, marijuana, DUI defense, controlled substance offenses, arson, criminal mischief, vehicular homicide, drug offenses, traffic violations, violent crime or drunk driving. 

Many Iowa lawyers practice only in Iowa courts. The Iowa Code defines all Iowa crimes. 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. Because Iowa federal courts are not state law courts in Iowa, your lawyer might refer you elsewhere. 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 misdemeanors or 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 intimidation offenses, ask a lawyer.

What can an Iowa lawyer do for me?

When accused, contact an attorney or law firm. Make sure to call one who works with Iowa criminal law.

If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, your Iowa lawyer will help. In that case, you will coordinate with law enforcement. Self-surrender won't be as embarrassing as public arrest would be.

Your Iowa criminal lawyer will stay in touch with the county attorney’s office. That means they will let the prosecutor know whether you choose to exercise or waive your right to speedy trial.  Further, counsel can provide legal guidance. For example, you need to know whether it's a good idea 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. Moreover, they can explain how conviction impacts criminal history. Finally, they can discuss whether or not the prosecutor might dismiss your charges.

Victim Resources

A Victim Services Support Program is available through the Iowa attorney general’s office.

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