Story County, Iowa -- A defendant was charged with Theft in the Second Degree (Class D felony), Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (Class D felony), Third Degree Burglary, and serious misdemeanor Trespass after a local property owner caught photos of someone they claimed to recognize as the defendant stealing diesel on his property. The maximum penalties for conviction of those offenses would have totaled over a decade in prison and over $15,000 in fines.
After a contested Motion in Limine seeking to exclude improper character evidence from the State, the defendant accepted a plea deal on the morning of trial. He entered an Alford plea to the offense of Trespass and was given a suspended sentence, one year of probation, and a $315 fine.
If you’d like me to represent you on your felony theft charges (or other Iowa criminal offense charges), please call or text me at (515) 491 6128 to schedule an initial consultation. Visit the “Contact” page for an online form that you can submit if you prefer email. Please don’t share too much information about your case until I’ve had an opportunity to run a conflicts check and make sure it’s ethically permissible for me to represent you.
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Case outcomes are unique and fact-specific. They depend on the nature of the offense(s) alleged, the evidence available, the inclinations of the State’s attorneys and the presiding judge, the availability of any defenses, the client’s willingness and ability to pursue particular defenses, the availability and usefulness of defense witnesses, etc., etc., etc.
The justice system is notoriously unreliable. The fact that hiring an attorney can change the outcome of your case is evidence that “justice” is, in practice, kind of a squishy and subjective concept. Bias and human error mean that any notion of objective “justice” is entirely illusory.
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What will happen if I'm charged with a crime?
When someone alleges that you have committed a public offense in Iowa, law enforcement will start an investigation. If they believe there is probable cause to charge you, you could be taken to jail or a notice to appear that says when your court date is. If you are arrested, 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 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.
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. 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.