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Criminal Defense


Iowa City Cedar Rapids Criminal Defense Attorneys

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 40 years of combined experience in criminal law advocacy. Shawn Fitzgerald and David Burbidge are tough, resourceful and skilled negotiators and litigators who fight hard for your rights and protect your best interests in district courts and at the appellate level. We handle such cases as misdemeanors and felonies involving DUI, DWI, OWI, traffic violations, driving suspensions, assaults, domestic violence defense, drug and possession offences, thefts, robberies, burglaries, and sex abuse crimes.

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 866-942-5302 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.

Iowa City Cedar Rapids OWI DUI DWI Lawyers

We analyze your case from all angles: suppression of evidence, violation of constitutional rights, discovery evidentiary issues. Our lawyers review video from law enforcement for what was said and how our client appeared and acted. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, we may be able to work out a plea agreement on your behalf or work hard for a dismissal or acquittal. Treatment or diversionary programs may be ordered in lieu of jail or prison time. Completion of a diversion program may result in your charges being dismissed.

It is important to know that criminal charges can be very complex and convictions can have serious consequences including:

  • Large fines (a minimum fine for a conviction for an OWI 1st offense is $1,250.00, 2nd offense is $1,875.00, and 3rd offense is $3,125.00)
  • 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 3 years before parole eiligibilty)
  • The sex offender laws of Iowa are very complex containing a 3 tiered system used to determine certain sentence requirements like sex offender registration.
  • Certain crimes (i.e. robbery and specific sex abuse crimes) are such that a client cannot recieve a deferred or suspended sentence and upon conviction 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 icense, suspension of a student's financial aid, expulsion from school, and loss of employment.


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 3rd 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.  The collateral affect of an OWI, DUI, or DWI convcition can be 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 the offense of operating while intoxicated (OWI/DUI) requires the State to prove two elements 1) an individual was operating a motor vehicle, and 2) the individual was under the influence.  Many factors can exist from whether an individual was operating, to the legality of any chemical testing, to whether the stop of and interaction with the client by law enforcement was constitutional.  It is important to find legal reprsentation who will thoroughly and dilligently review all factors and elements in an operating while intoxicated (OWI/DUI) case.  Our attorneys work to obtain all information available by conducting interviews, review of all dash, body, and police station camera footage that is available, and conducting depositions.  This is to determine if officers complied with the Iowa and U.S. constittution and the laws of the State of Iowa during their interaction with a client.  Only after all the information available is reviewed can a fair analysis of the strength of the State's case be determined.


In Iowa, a conviction for possessoin of a controlled substance first offense carries a mandatory 48 hour jail sentence.  Possession of a controlled substance charges are enhanceable meaning subsequent charges are enhanced.  A first offense is a serious misdemeanor carring up to 1 year in jail (6 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 any possession of a controlled substance offense requires a 6 month driver's license suspension, however, if a deferred judgment is granted there is no license suspension.  A conviction for possession of a controlled substance can have the collateral affect 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 deilver a controlled substance.  These charges are all felonies and vary in the class of felony depending on the substance and amount found.


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.


In Iowa, domestic abuse assault charges require the court to enter a no ncontact order preventing the defendant from contacting the victim during the prosecution of the charge.  Convictions carry a mandatory 48 hour jail sentence and authorize the court to extend the lenght of the no contact order.  Violations of the no contact order or protective order requires a mandatory 7 day jail sentence.  While a no contact order (and a protective order in civil matters) is in place, a defendent/respondent cannot posses 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 priviledges, an individual convicted of domestic abuse is required to take State mandated Iowa Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP), formely known as BEP.  This State mandated program takes 6 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.

Contact Our Firm

If you have questions regarding criminal defense matters, call lawyers David Burbidge, Shawn M. Fitzgerald toll free at 866-942-5302 or fill out the online form on this website for an initial case consultation. We will review your case and your options with their respective benefits and drawbacks, and any alternatives to the legal process that you may have.

Send Us A Message

Bold labels are required.

ERROR: Please enter a site level or form specific email address in the application.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Office Location

Johnston, Stannard, Klesner, Burbidge & Fitzgerald, P.L.C.
373 Scott Court Suite B
Iowa City, IA 52240
Toll Free: 866-942-5302
Fax: 319-354-7265
Map and Directions

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 3400
Iowa City, IA 52244

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