Accusations of property crime could lead to large fines, jail time, restitution payments, and employment problems. Employers won’t trust you around money or things of value. Banks might not trust you with loans. You can’t afford to be seen as a thief — not if there’s any way to clear your name. Maybe the property was yours to begin with. Maybe your ex is making up a story to get leverage in a divorce or other civil proceeding. A property crime or theft lawyer can review the charges against you and help you determine what defenses may be available.
Des Moines Iowa Property Crime Lawyer
Remember that in order to convict you, the prosecutors have to prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt — including the intent or “mens rea” element.
At Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, we defend the rights and liberties of good people who are accused of bad things. An Iowa property crimes attorney might be able find you a viable path to reasonable doubt, thus saving 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.
There are many types of property crime. Some of the ones you might be familiar with include:
- Receiving stolen property
- Identity theft
- Criminal mischief
There are a number of different things that could earn you a theft conviction. The first and most obvious is taking somebody’s stuff with the intent to deprive them of it. It also includes intentionally keeping stuff that you were only allowed to borrow or rent, embezzlement, “dine and dash,” and stealing office supplies.
Read more about Iowa theft charges.
Receiving stolen property
If you have property that you know was stolen or that you have reason to believe was stolen, you could be convicted of “receiving stolen property” under Iowa law. This includes things like buying stolen gods and reselling them on eBay or at a pawn shop, “fencing,” etc.
Read more about Iowa receiving stolen property charges.
Walmart, Target, and others are out to stop ongoing thefts at their stores. If you walk out with their property in your pocket or purse, skip something into a bag at the self-checkout, hide objects inside of other objects, or eat something you haven’t paid for (talking to you, guy or girl who’s facing a Theft 5th misdemeanor for eating $3 worth of chicken fries while wandering through a Walmart), they’re going to pull you into a back room, question you, call the police, and turn security video over to the prosecution.
Read more about Iowa shoplifting charges.
If you use someone else’s info to get something of value, you’re probably facing a charge ranging in severity from an aggravated misdemeanor to a class “C” felony. Additionally, whatever you got of value is subject to forfeiture. Your victim may file a claim for damages and you may have to pay their attorneys’ fees.
All a misunderstanding?
Read more about Iowa identity theft charges.
You don’t have to burn down a building to be convicted of arson (although, let’s be clear, that is arson.) In one well-known local case, a man was convicted to 16 years for (hate crime, harassment, reckless use of fire as a habitual offender and) arson involving setting a stolen pride flag on fire.
Causing a fire or explosion is arson. So is putting burning material or explosive devices in or near property if you intend to destroy or damage the property or if you know the property will probably be destroyed or damaged.
Causing a fire or explosion that damages property while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance (such as methamphetamine) is also arson — even if the owner of the property consents to what you’re doing and even if you did it in a way that didn’t unreasonably endanger anyone’s life or property.
Read more about Iowa arson charges.
Graffiti, vandalism, and writing angry messages on your ex’s property are examples of criminal mischief.
If someone accuses you of damaging, defacing, altering, or destroying property, you might be facing criminal mischief charges.
Read more about Iowa criminal mischief charges.
If you go to someone’s property without their express permission and you intend to commit a public offense, to use, take, or damage any of their stuff, to put anything on their property or take anything away from it, or to hunt, fish, or trap, you may have done a trespass. Additionally, if you go to or stay on someone’s property without justification after they (or a police officer, etc.) told you to leave, that can be trspass.
Read more about Iowa trespass charges.
Robbery involves intending to commit a theft and doing any of these things:
- Assaulting someone
- Threatening someone with immediate serious injury
- Purposely making someone afraid of immediate serious injury
- Threatening to immediately commit any forcible felony.
It doesn’t actually matter whether or not you ended up stealing anything; that you intended to commit a theft when one of those things happened is what’s relevant.
Read more about Iowa robbery charges.
If you go into an occupied structure that isn’t open to the public (or if you stay there after you’re supposed to leave) when you aren’t supposed to be there and if you intend to commit a felony, assault, or theft in that structure, you may be facing burglary charges.
Read more about Iowa burglary charges.
- Simple Misdemeanor: Up to 30 days in jail. Fine of $65 to $625.
- Serious Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail. Fine of $315 to $1,875.
- Aggravated Misdemeanor: Up to 2 years in prison. Fine of $625 to $6,250.
- Class D Felony: Up to 5 years in prison. Fine of $750 to $7,500.
- Class C Felony: Up to 10 years in prison. Fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
- Class B Felony: Up to 25 years in prison.
In addition to any criminal fines, you will have to pay an additional 35% surcharge.
If you get a deferred judgment instead of a conviction, you will pay a civil penalty instead of a fine. Civil penalties in the same amounts as criminal fines — for instance, if you get a deferred judgment on a theft 5th, you could get a civil penalty of $65 instead of getting a criminal fine for $65. There’s no additional 35% surcharge for civil penalties, though.
You should expect to pay restitution after any theft conviction.
Defense lawyers for property crimes 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.
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 property crime accusation in Iowa, 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 stolen something or destroyed property, law enforcement will start an investigation. Depending on whether they believe there is probable cause to charge you with a property crime, 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 witha 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, 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 can an Iowa property crime defense lawyer do for me?
If you’ve been accused of theft, arson, robbery, burglary, criminal mischief, conversion of a motor vehicle, or other property crimes in Iowa, you need to be in contact with an attorney or law firm that works with criminal law.
If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, your 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 property crime 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 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.
What offenses exist in Iowa criminal law?
Criminal law offenses are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Class A and B felonies exist, but most people facing felony charges are facing a class c felony or a class d felony. If you have questions about assault, theft, or various other aspects of criminal law, you should talk to a lawyer.