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Des Moines Criminal Law Blog

OWI Consequences In Iowa

A conviction for Operating While Intoxicated, or OWI, in Iowa comes with various consequences both in the criminal context as well as with the Department of Transportation. The following is a list of some, but not all, of the potential consequences most people may face upon conviction. Keep in mind that every case and every court are different, and these are simply to be used as a general guide. For more specific information, please contact the experienced OWI attorneys at Stowers and Sarcone in order to schedule a consultation.

When Can Police Search My Car?

The Fourth Amendment provides that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effect, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." The Supreme Court has uniformly held that the interior of a vehicle is one of the things included within the Fourth Amendment's scope of protection. Because it is within the amendment's scope, under normal circumstances the Constitution requires that the police get a warrant in order to search that area. However, the Court has also held that because of the mobile nature of a car - as opposed to, say, a house- the interior of a car is subject to special exceptions to the warrant requirement. Thus, an officer can generally search your car without a warrant in these circumstances:

Police at the Door

Many people are under the false impression that if the police knock on the door, they are required to answer. However, this is not the case. Under most state laws, including Iowa, when the police knock on your door, you are not required to answer, even if you are home inside. When the police knock, you have the option of simply doing nothing, and eventually the police might leave. Note, however, that if you are hosting a party and your guests are being loud, you may be mailed a citation. Or, if the police have reason to believe that underage drinking or illegal drugs are involved, the police may return with a warrant.

What to Do If Police Want to Enter Your Home

Legally speaking, if the police knock on your door and ask to enter your home, you have a number of options. You have the right to ask the police to produce a search warrant. If the police have a warrant, they are authorized to enter and search whatever premises the warrant describes. However, the police are only allowed to search the places that the warrant permits them to look, and they are only authorized to search for the types of evidence that the warrant identifies. For example, if the warrant authorizes the police to search your home, the police may not search your car parked outside. Additionally, if the warrant authorizes the police to search for a large item, like a baseball bat, they may not look for it in your jewelry box (provided that a baseball bat would not fit in there). You may ask to read the warrant in order to figure out its scope and limitations.

Iowa Police to Wear Body-Cameras?

In the wake of the Ferguson decision, there may be changes ahead for Iowa police officers. Various Iowa law enforcement departments have unveiled that they plan to equip officers with body-worn cameras within the next year in order to increase officer accountability and transparency. In both Des Moines schools and Clive, officers already use body worn cameras during any time they interact with the public. Soon, Cedar Rapids and West Des Moines will be added to that list as they enact similar policies.

Pharmacy Board Delays Marijuana Reclassification

On Wednesday, three members of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommended to the full Board that marijuana be reclassified as a schedule II drug. If passed, the proposal would have resulted in the Pharmacy Board making an official recommendation to the Iowa Legislature for the upcoming session. However, the full Board declined to decide the issue, unanimously voting to table the discussion until January of 2015.

Study Says Iowa Police Arrest Blacks at Higher Rates

In the wake of the Ferguson riots over the summer, communities and states are taking a closer look at their arrest data in regard to African Americans. Iowa is no exception. A study conducted by the Des Moines Register and USA Today catalogued arrest data for black citizens and compared it to citizens of other races. The study used data from the U.S. Census, FBI, and U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, and found that black people in Iowa are being arrested at much greater rates than other races. For example, in Bettendorf, Iowa, where the rates were disproportionately highest, black people were arrested at 9.9 times the rate of other races, even though they make up only 2% of Bettendorf's population. This disproportion is even greater than that of Ferguson, Missouri, the focus of the media, where black people are 3 times more likely to be arrested.

Iowa's Felon-Voting Laws May Again Be On Their Way To the Supreme Court

An Iowa mother, Kelli Jo Griffen, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit two weeks ago in order to challenge Iowa's policy of disenfranchising convicted felons. In Iowa, citizens who have previously been convicted of a felony cannot vote without special approval from the Governor. In order to get this approval, ex-felons must complete a detailed application with the Governor's office, submit proof that court costs are being paid, and request a criminal history check. Iowa is one of three states which have such laws, the others being Kentucky and Florida.

Mrs. Lady's Mexican Restaurant May Inspire Civil Forfeiture Reform

Last week, the New York Times published an article about Carol Hinders, an Iowa woman who had over $33,000 dollars seized from her family-run business last year. Ms. Hinders owns and operates Mrs. Lady's, a Mexican restaurant out of Arnold's Park, Iowa. Ms. Hinders has not been charged with any crime, and she likely will not ever be. Rather, her assets were seized through "civil forfeiture," a process whereby authorities may seize any property suspected to be involved in a crime. From 2005 to 2014, civil forfeiture resulted in $242,627 in assets seized, with only five of these seizures prosecuted. In Ms. Hinders' case, the money in her account raised suspicion merely because there were frequent deposits made below the IRS's federal reporting limit of $10,000. In order to get her money back, Ms. Hinders' must litigate her claim to a jury; however, this will not occur until the middle of 2015.

Iowa's Concealed Carry Law and Alcohol Don't Mix

The recent political campaigns have brought with them a slew of discussion over Iowan's Second Amendment rights. The Iowa Code sections protecting these rights, found in Iowa Code Chapter 724, have undergone significant change in recent years. Most notably, Senate File 2379, a bill that significantly amends Iowa's permit to carry statutes, took effect in 2011. Among the changes that this concealed-carry bill made was enacting Iowa Code 724.4C, which provided that:


Stowers & Sarcone PLC is located in Des Moines, Iowa. Attorney Dean Stowers provides experienced criminal defense to people throughout cities that include Des Moines, Ames, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Iowa City, Mason City, Ottumwa, Hampton, Eldora, Waterloo, Carroll, Jefferson, Boone, Marshalltown, Toledo, Harlan, Audubon, Guthrie Center, Newton, Montezuma, Marengo, Atlantic, Greenfield, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, Sigourney, Osceola, Chariton, Alba and Sioux City and throughout Polk County, Dallas County, Madison County, Story County, Cerro Gordo County, Franklin County, Woodbury County, Hardin County, Blackhawk County, Carroll County, Greene County, Boone County, Marshall County, Tama County, Linn County, Shelby County, Audubon County, Guthrie County, Jasper County, Poweshiek County, Iowa County, Johnson County, Pottawattamie County, Cass County, Adair County, Marion County, Mahaska County, Keokuk County, Clarke County, Lucas County, Monroe County, Wapello County and Warren County.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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