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Are You In Criminal Trouble?

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 more than 50 years of combined experience in criminal law advocacy. Shawn Fitzgerald is a tough, resourceful and skilled attorney, who will fight for your rights and protect your best interests, in district and appellate courts.

Shawn has represented clients facing a wide variety of felony and misdemeanor charges. Located in Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, Shawn continues to assist college students charged with criminal conduct and the impact it has on their studies at the University. If you or a loved one is being investigated or has been charged with a crime, contact Shawn with Johnston, Stannard, Klesner, Burbidge & Fitzgerald, P.L.C., at 319-359-6492 to schedule an appointment to discuss your criminal charges and to answer any questions you may have.

Shawn Fitzgerald has gained extensive experience representing over 1,000 criminal clients charged with OWI/DUI (operating while intoxicated/drunk driving) ∙ Domestic Abuse and Assault ∙ Drug crimes including Possession, and Possession with Intent to Deliver ∙ Attempted Murder ∙ Embezzlement ∙ Sex crimes including Sex Abuse, and Assault with Intent to Commit Sex Abuse ∙ Burglary ∙ Robbery ∙ Theft ∙ Forgery ∙ Felon in Possession of a Firearm ∙ Interference with Official Acts ∙ Public Intoxication.

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. (see notable cases).

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 evidence 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.

Criminal Charges Are Often Very Complex

Prosecutors often “stack” charges, which can make convictions even more serious. Some consequences include:

  • Large fines (a minimum fine for a conviction for an OWI first offense is $1,250, second offense is $1,875 and the 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 three-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)

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 drugs or combinations. This is what Iowa calls an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated/Drunk Driving).

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 .08) to six years (OWI third offense). Depending on the level of the 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 nonresident 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 of 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 prosecution’s case be determined.

Possession Of Controlled Substances

In Iowa, a conviction for possession of a controlled substance first offense carries a mandatory 48-hour jail sentence. Possession of any controlled substance charge is 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 the intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. All possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver carries a sentence anywhere from five 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, Iowa, instituted a diversion program for first-time marijuana possession. We can help you determine if that may be appropriate for your situation.

Public Intoxication, Underage Possession

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 the 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 prevent 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; the relationship of the defendant and victim; and whether intoxicating substances 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 three-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.

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Contact Our Firm

If you have questions regarding criminal defense matters, call lawyer Shawn M. Fitzgerald 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.

Notable Cases

Cedar County AGCR024516 — PLEA OFFER ACCEPTED — Attorney Shawn Fitzgerald’s client was accused of the crime of Operating a Motor Vehicle While License is Barred as a Habitual Offender §321.560/ §321.561/ §321.555 /§321.556 (An Aggravated Misdemeanor), as well as Failure to Use Child Restraint Devise §321.446 (A Scheduled Violation). Attorney Shawn Fitzgerald was able to secure a plea offer satisfactory to both client and state.

Notable Cases

Muscatine County AGCR057733 — PLEA ACCEPTED, CHARGE REDUCED — Attorney Shawn Fitzgerald’s client was accused of Domestic Abuse Assault §708.2A(2)(b) (A Serious Misdemeanor). An initial plea offer stated the client would have to plead guilty as charged, attorney Shawn Fitzgerald worked for a better offer for his client. The client was able to plead guilty to an amended lesser charge of Disorderly Conduct §723.4(2) (A Simple Misdemeanor).