Criminal Law >> Iowa Criminal Process >> Misdemeanors and Felonies
Iowa classifies crimes as “felonies” or “misdemeanors.” A felony can be a class A felony, class B felony, class C felony, or class D felony. A misdemeanor can be a simple misdemeanor, a serious misdemeanor, or an aggravated misdemeanor.
On July 15, 2020, the penalties are changing for Iowa misdemeanors. Fees are going to be higher and surcharges are going to be lower. If you are convicted of or plead guilty to a crime that happened before July 15, 2020, you will pay the “old” fine and surcharge amounts *unless* the new amounts would be less.
How restitution is determined and calculated is also changing, as is the process of determining whether you are reasonably able to pay restitution.
Types of Misdemeanors
Statutes that define crimes may tell you what the punishment for that crime is. If the statute doesn’t tell you what the punishment is, the punishments for misdemeanors are as follows:
On July 15, 2020, new simple misdemeanor charges will be subject to a minimum fine of $105 up to a maximum fine of $855. You can also face up to 30 days in jail. (Senate file 457).
(Prior to July 15, 2020): Simple offenses: fines of $65-$625 (Iowa Code 903.1), plus a 35% surcharge (Iowa Code 911.1). The court can also send you to jail for up to 30 days instead of fining you or in addition to fining you (Iowa Code 903.1)
On July 15, 2020, new serious misdemeanor charges will be subject to a minimum fine of $430 up to a maximum fine of $2560. (Senate file 457).
(Prior to July 15, 2020): Serious misdemeanors: fines of $315-$1875 (Iowa Code 903.1) plus a 35% surcharge (Iowa Code 911.1). The court can also send you to jail for up to a year in addition to fining you (Iowa Code 903.1)
On July 15, 2020, new aggravated misdemeanor charges will be subject to a minimum fine of $855 up to a maximum fine of $8540. (Senate file 457).
(Prior to July 15, 2020) Aggravated offenses: fines of $625-$6250 (Iowa Code 903.1) plus a 35% surcharge (Iowa Code 911.1) The court can also send you to jail for up to two years. If the court sends you to jail for more than a year, the term will be indeterminate.)
Des Moines Misdemeanors Consequences
Bear in mind that going to jail in Iowa isn’t free. You can be charged for administrative procedures and booking, room and board for every day you spend in custody, and for medical care you receive (Iowa Code 356.7)
(If you or a loved one have been sentenced to Polk County Jail (“PCJ”), you can find a copy of their inmate handbook here.)
All misdemeanor convictions are subject to surcharges.
Prior to July 15, 2020, a 35% criminal penalty surcharge applies to all fines arising from criminal convictions.
On July 15, the criminal penalty surcharge will be renamed the “crime services surcharge” and will be only 15%, not 35%. (Iowa Code §911.1)
If you received a deferred judgment, you will be ordered to pay a civil penalty, not a criminal surcharge.
There are two categories of restitution that you may end up required to pay.
We can help you figure out what to do about your misdemeanor 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.
If you need an Iowa misdemeanor attorney and would like to talk to us, call now. (515) 491 6128.
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’re charged, 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 broken the law, law enforcement will start an investigation. Depending on whether they believe there is probable cause to charge you, 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.
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.
Finally, if you’re convicted, you might have reason and opportunity to appeal your conviction or sentence to the court of appeals or even to the Iowa Supreme Court. As your criminal defense attorney for their opinion.
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.
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 estate planning, domestic violence, worker’s compensation, personal injury, sex crime, sexual abuse, operating while intoxicated, child endangerment, child abuse, indecent exposure, theft, civil rights, family law, child custody, possession of controlled substances, sex crimes, workers’ compensation, marijuana, DUI defense, arson, 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.
What misdemeanor 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 whether the charge you’re facing is a misdemeanor or felony, ask your lawyer.
If your criminal case involves Iowa misdemeanors, you need misdemeanor defense help.
Your Des Moines IA criminal attorney can tell you whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
While misdemeanors are not as bad as felonies, misdemeanor convictions often result in days in jail and can result in years of imprisonment. Jail is different than prison. A prison term is uncommon for a misdemeanor offense but not impossible, especially if you have a criminal record already. If you have concerns about prison, you aren’t alone.
Additionally, while misdemeanor expungement can happen for some charges in some circumstances, expungement law is fairly narrow. Lots of possible clients call to ask about sealing and expungement of their earlier offense. Unfortunately, most crimes can’t be expunged under Iowa law. That’s why it’s important to vigorously defend your misdemeanor offense before conviction happens.
While many offenses, like marijuana possession, seem like they shouldn’t even be illegal, an officer from the county sheriff’s office will still pick you up for possession.
Adult abuse and other forms of domestic violence may incur misdemeanor charges in Ames IA. Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is a serious misdemeanor for a first offense and an aggravated misdemeanor for a second offense. Most trespass charges are misdemeanors. The sheriff’s office gets many calls about trespass.
There are serious misdemeanors and there are serious misdemeanors. A misdemeanor sex offense could land you on the sex offender registry.
Traffic violations may be scheduled offenses.
What can an Iowa misdemeanor defense lawyer do for me?
If you’ve been accused of committing a misdemeanor in Iowa, you need to be in contact with an attorney 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 Des Moines misdemeanor 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.