Are You In Legal Trouble? We Will Come To Your Defense.

The law firm of Johnston, Stannard, Klesner, Burbidge & Fitzgerald, P.L.C., in Iowa City, Iowa, serves clients in the area of criminal defense and has 50 years of combined experience in criminal law advocacy. Shawn Fitzgerald is tough, resourceful and skilled resourceful and skilled negotiator and litigator who will fight hard for your rights and protect your best interests in district courts and at the appellate level. Shawn has represented clients in all Iowa felony and misdemeanor charges including OWI (operating while intoxicated/drunk driving), attempted murder, embezzlement, sex crimes and abuse, indecent exposure, invasion of privacy, voter fraud, burglary, robbery, theft, drug crimes, possession with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance, assault, domestic abuse, stalking, felon in possession of a firearm, interference with official acts, public intoxication, suspended driving, traffic violations.

If you or a loved one is being investigated or has been charged with a crime, contact Johnston, Stannard, Klesner, Burbidge & Fitzgerald, P.L.C., at 319-359-6492 toll-free or submit the form on this website to schedule an appointment to review your criminal case and to answer any questions you may have.

We look forward to assisting you and will provide the individual attention and personalized service that you deserve.

Work With Our Trusted OWI (operating while intoxicated/drunk driving) Lawyer

A criminal defense attorney with the right experience, knowledge, and reputation will substantially affect the outcome when a person has been accused of committing a crime. In 2007, Shawn Fitzgerald began representing all firm clients who have been accused of committing a crime. To date, Shawn has represented over 1,000 criminal clients. Shawn has represented clients in matters including: (see notable cases)

  • OWI - operating while intoxicated /drunk driving
  • attempted murder
  • embezzlement
  • sex crimes
    • sex abuse
    • assault with intent to commit sex abuse
    • indecent exposure
    • invasion of privacy
  • voter fraud
  • burglary
  • robbery
  • theft
  • ongoing criminal conduct
  • forgery
  • drug crimes
    • possession with intent to deliver
    • possession of a controlled substance
  • assault
  • domestic abuse
  • stalking
  • rioting
  • terrorism
  • felon in possession of a firearm
  • interference with official acts
  • public intoxication
  • suspended driving
  • traffic violations

Shawn has substantial experience representing clients charged with misdemeanors, felonies, and driver’s license suspensions in Iowa. A list of matters Shawn assisted clients with can be found here

Shawn will analyze your case from all angles. In order to determine if there are grounds for suppressing evidence, violation of constitutional rights, and other evidentiary issues, all evidence must be obtained. Today, too many attorneys lack the skill or desire to ensure all available information has been collected. Shawn will ensure any evidences available will be obtained, reviewed, and shared with the client. Shawn personally reviews all discovery including videos from law enforcement, security camera footage, reports, witness statements, 911 calls, test results, dispatch logs, etc.

Crimanl charges can be very complex and convictions can have serious consequences including:

  • Large fines (a minimum fine for a conviction for an OWI first offense is $1,250, second offense is $1,875, and third offense is $3,125)
  • Sentence enhancement (prior OWI, possession of a controlled substance, public intoxication, theft, assault, domestic abuse, and sex abuse charges can be used to enhance later offense. Prior felony convictions can cause an individual to be considered a habitual felony offender which requires a 15-year prison sentence with a mandatory three years before parole eligibility)
  • The sex offender laws of Iowa are very complex containing a 3-tiered system used to determine certain sentence requirements like sex offender registration and 10-year or lifetime special parole.
  • Certain crimes (i.e. robbery and specific sex abuse crimes) are such that a client cannot receive a deferred or suspended sentence, and upon conviction, they carry a mandatory prison sentence. However, depending on the specific facts of a case, a robbery charge could be amended to a burglary or theft in which a deferred judgment or suspended sentence may be available.

A criminal conviction can result in negative consequence beyond the fine and jail or prison sentences. Depending on the nature of the charge there are direct and collateral consequences. These consequences include suspension of a driver's license, suspension of a professional license, suspension of a student's financial aid, expulsion from school, and loss of employment.

OWI (operating while intoxicated/drunk driving)

In Iowa it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle (including boats, planes, motorized scooters, lawn tractors, or any vehicle powered by a motor) with an alcohol content over .08, under the influence of a controlled substance, or while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or combination. This is what Iowa calls and OWI. Other jurisdictions refer to it as a DUI or DWI. In addition to any jail sentence and fine, there is a mandatory license suspension. The license suspension can vary from 60 days (for persons under 21 with a BAC less than 0.08) to six years (OWI third offense). Depending on level of offense charged and the alcohol content, the length of the license suspension and ability to obtain a work permit may vary. In addition, the Iowa Department of Transportation will notify the home state for any non-resident who receives a driver’s license suspension or is convicted of an OWI in Iowa.

The collateral impact of an OWI conviction can include work and/or school suspensions, increased insurance costs, and loss of motor vehicle(s).

The OWI laws of Iowa can be found in Iowa Code 321J.2. A prosecution of an OWI case requires the state to prove two elements 1) an individual was operating a motor vehicle, and 2) the individual was under the influence or alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Many factors can drastically change the outcome of an OWI case including whether an individual was operating the vehicle, the basis for the police stopping the driver, the legality of any chemical testing, whether the interaction with law enforcement was constitutional. It is important to find legal representation who will thoroughly and diligently review all factors and elements in an OWI case. Shawn reviews all reports, dashboard, body, and police department camera footage; and will conduct depositions to determine if officers complied with the Iowa and U.S. constitutions and the laws of the State of Iowa during their interaction with his client. Only after all the information available is reviewed can a fair analysis of the strength of the prosecutions case be determined.

Possession of a Controlled Substances, Intent to Deliver or Manufacture

In Iowa, a conviction for possession of a controlled substance first offense carries a mandatory 48-hour jail sentence. Possession of a controlled substance charges are enhanceable. Each subsequent offense is elevated to a more serious crime. A first offense is a serious misdemeanor carrying up to one year in jail (six months for marijuana), a second offense is an aggravated misdemeanor (serious misdemeanor if both charges are marijuana), and third or subsequent offenses are class "D" felonies. A conviction for possession of a controlled substance can have the collateral effect of loss of student financial aid and other government benefits.

Depending on the amount of substance found and other factors officers and prosecutors use, an individual may be charged with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. All possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver carries a sentence anywhere from 5 years in prison to 50 years in depending on the type of controlled substance, amount, number of prior convictions, and whether the person was in control of a firearm.

The Johnson County Attorney’s Office in Iowa City, IA instituted a diversion program for 1st time marijuana possession. Information can be found at

Public Intoxication, Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age

Public Intoxication and Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age are unique charges in Iowa as they may be expunged from your record without the use of a deferred judgment.

Due to the complexity of criminal defense and the unique nature of each specific case it is always in your best interest to consult with a skilled, knowledgeable and effective criminal defense attorney as soon as you become aware that you are the subject of an investigation or have been arrested or charged.

Domestic Abuse Assaults and No Contact Orders

In Iowa, domestic abuse assault charges require the court to enter a no contact order. This prevents defendant from contacting the victim during the prosecution of the case. Convictions of domestic abuse carry a mandatory 48-hour jail sentence and authorize the court to extend the no contact order 5-years. Violations of the no contact order or protective order require a mandatory seven-day jail sentence. While a no contact order (and a protective order in civil matters) is in place, a defendant/respondent cannot possess firearms. Iowa and federal law prevents an individual convicted of domestic abuse from possessing a firearm. This includes any firearm used for hunting.

In addition to any jail and fine sentence, and the loss of firearm privileges, an individual convicted of domestic abuse is required to take state-mandated Iowa Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP), formerly known as BEP. This state-mandated program takes up to six months to complete. Completion of the program is mandatory and failure or refusal to complete the program can expose an individual to contempt actions and time in jail.

Sex Abuse, Sex Crimes, and Sex Offender Registry

Sex crimes include sexual abuse, assault with intent to commit sex abuse, indecent exposure, invasion of privacy, and lascivious acts with a child. The nature and degree of the crime are based on the factors including: the age of the defendant and victim; whether there was violence or a weapon; relationship of the defendant and victim; and whether intoxicating substance were present.

Sex crimes, as a sentencing condition, require an individual to register as a sex offender on the sex offender registry under Iowa Code 692A.

Iowa employees a 3-tiered system which defines the registration requirements. The tier an individual is placed into is determined by the specific sex offense and an individual's criminal history. In addition to any jail or prison sentence and the requirement to register as a sex offender, a conviction requires a 10 year to lifetime special parole to the Iowa Department of Corrections. Even if the final charge a defendant is convicted of is not a sex crime, the court has the authority to find the charge was sexually motivated and require the defendant to register as a sex offense.

The direct and collateral consequences of a sex crime will be life altering. An experienced attorney can drastically change the outcome of a case and possibly avoid those life altering consequences.

Helpful Links

Contact Our Firm

If you have questions regarding criminal defense matters, call lawyer Shawn M. Fitzgerald toll-free at 319-359-6492 or fill out the online form on this website for an initial case consultation. Shawn will review your case and your options with their respective benefits and drawbacks, and any alternatives to the legal process that you may have.