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Answering Your Criminal Defense Questions

When you’re facing a criminal charge, everything in your life is brought into question – your reputation, relationships, freedom and future. If your mind is riddled with doubts and questions right now, it’s only natural. To provide people in Iowa dealing with criminal issues more clarity and certainty, the attorneys at Johnston, Stannard, Klesner, Burbidge & Fitzgerald, P.L.C. have compiled a list of our clients’ most common questions and answered them below.

When Are The Police Allowed To Search My Home Or Vehicle?

In the United States, the Constitution protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures of our personal property. To conduct a lawful search, the police must have a valid search warrant or probable cause to believe that a crime is underway, negating the need for a warrant. The police can also search you or your vehicle if you give them permission, but we’d never advise our clients to do that.

What’s The Difference Between Misdemeanor And Felony Charges?

Misdemeanors and felonies are two different classifications of criminal charges. Felonies are more severe and garner more severe penalties. An example of a felony offense is a violent crime like murder. Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies and comparatively garner less severe penalties. An example of a misdemeanor is a drunk driving charge. Our attorneys can help people facing either felony or misdemeanor charges. We do not handle federal criminal offenses.

Will I Have To Go To Trial?

The answer depends on the circumstances and details of your case. Sometimes, accepting a plea agreement is preferable to going to trial. In others, the charges get dismissed, making a trial unnecessary. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you explore all the available options in your case and take the proper course of action.

What’s The Timeline Of A Criminal Case?

The timeline is different in every criminal case. However, trial information must be submitted no more than 45 days after your arrest. If this deadline passes with no action, your charges will be dismissed. Iowans have a right to a timely trial, and our attorneys will ensure this right is upheld and your criminal case is resolved within a reasonable time frame.

What Does Implied Consent Mean?

Under implied consent laws, all drivers have already agreed to take breath tests, urine tests or other types of impaired driving tests in certain situations – such as after an accident or during a lawful traffic stop. A driver who refuses such a test may be arrested and could lose their license for a year. Even though drivers do have a right to refuse a test, there are still ramifications for doing so.

Could A Conviction Affect My Child Custody Rights?

Yes, as any sort of criminal activity can have implications for child custody cases. For instance, those convicted on domestic violence charges could lose their custody rights. The court will always seek a safe and stable living situation for a child, and anything that indicates a lack of safety – such as a criminal record – could mean one parent loses physical custody rights and is restricted to supervised visitation. This is especially true for drunk driving cases with a minor in the car.

What Are Some Of The Collateral Consequences Of A Criminal Conviction?

It depends on the conviction itself, especially the distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony. But those who get convicted could:

  • Get expelled from school or find it more difficult to apply
  • Encounter housing barriers, such as having trouble renting an apartment or getting a mortgage loan
  • Lose certain rights, like the right to vote or possess a firearm
  • Lose their child custody rights

Finally, a felony can show up on a background check, making it far harder to find employment.

When Should I Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney?

You need a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Because a conviction could have such a major impact on your future, you need to work with experienced professionals as soon as you can. Here at Johnston, Stannard, Klesner, Burbidge & Fitzgerald, P.L.C., we offer free consultations, and we have decades of experience, so we can guide you through the process and help you explore your defense options.

Talk To A Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have more questions about a specific criminal case, our attorneys are here to provide the answers you need. We offer free consultations – call 319-359-6492 or complete a contact form to schedule an appointment with us.

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).