Your life can change in an instant when you are arrested for a criminal offense. Although you are officially “innocent until proven guilty” in the eyes of the law, at least as it is written, sometimes it can seem the other way around, as you are hounded by a rabid prosecutor and confused by procedural complexities that might seem to make very little sense.
A criminal charge and a criminal conviction are two different things, however —— between charge and conviction lies a robust defense if you select the right criminal defense lawyer. The criminal justice system is adversarial by nature —— the prosecution and the defense duke it out, while the judge acts as a neutral referee. Like any other fight, walking in unarmed can court disaster even if you are innocent.
You Have Constitutional Rights
Take heart —— the United States is unique in the world in the degree to which it grants constitutional rights to criminal defendants. Because of our adversarial judicial system, however, a prosecutor will bulldoze right over your rights if you let that happen, especially if you are unaware of the nature of those rights. For this reason, representing yourself or allowing a mediocre lawyer to do so is not a good idea.
As your criminal defense lawyer, I will dive deep into the facts of your case to find useful defenses. There are many defenses that most people are unaware of —— entrapment, the exclusionary rule, necessity, duress, mistake of fact, and even legitimate purpose can be used as defenses under certain circumstances. I will investigate every avenue and leave no stone unturned for you.
No Two Cases Are Alike
Every criminal case is like a jigsaw puzzle, with many interlocking pieces, and no two are alike. Your freedom and reputation at stake. I will not use a “cookie cutter” approach to your defense. Your case is unique, and it is up to me to discover exactly how to use the facts to look out for your best interests.
A Satisfied Client Speaks Out
“Jonathan was approachable and listened to my concerns and fears. He always gave me all the options of ways I could proceed along with possible outcomes whether they were in my favor or not just so I could make the best decision going forward in my case. I appreciated that honesty. I still call on Jonathan to get his opinion on certain situations and value his knowledge. I am beyond pleased with the outcome of my case! Thank you, Jonathan!”
March 2, 2017
Some of My Practice Areas
Below are only a few of the types of criminal cases I handle:
- DUI/DWI defense: Penalties for DUI (also known as OWI in Iowa) have been getting tougher nationwide, and Iowa is no exception to the nationwide trend. Even a first-time offender faces possible jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, and substance abuse treatment. A third-time offender can even be charged with a felony. In this situation, it is important to know your rights and know how to enforce them.
- Burglary/Robbery: Burglary and robbery are both considered felonies in Iowa, and can result in years of incarceration. When dealing with the Iowa criminal justice system, a thorough understanding of your rights and how to utilize them can literally save you years of your life. Your best shot is to secure effective legal representation.
- Theft: You can be charged with theft, which is essentially robbery without force or the threat of force, for anything from shoplifting, to identity theft, to looting a vacant building during a riot. Theft can be characterized as anything from a simple misdemeanor to a Class C Felony, based primarily on the value of the stolen property.
- Assault: In Iowa, assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and you don’t even have to have actually touched anyone to be charged with assault. You can be charged with assault for simply defending yourself, and you could end up arrested simply because the other party called the police before you did. The assistance of a criminal defense lawyer is essential.
- Possession: “Possession of a controlled substance” can mean anything from having a joint in your pocket to concealing a kilogram of heroin in the trunk of your car. Obviously, penalties vary widely. In many cases, however, charges can be dropped when evidence is excluded from trial.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does a grand jury do?
A grand jury evaluates the evidence presented to them by the prosecutor to determine whether to indict you for a crime. If grand jury proceedings are underway against you, you have no right to present evidence in your favor and no right to appear. If you are indicted, you will be charged.
How can a criminal defense attorney bargain with the prosecutor to my advantage?
There are two main ways:
- He can reach a plea agreement in which you plead guilty to a less serious charge and avoid a trial; or
- He can reach an agreement in which you are granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for your testimony against a “bigger fish.”
Why do prosecutors allow plea agreements?
There are two main reasons:
- They are unsure whether the evidence is weighty enough to win at trial; or
Their schedule is busy and they want to reduce the number of trials on their desk.
What are most common exceptions to the warrant requirement for a search?
Some of the most common exceptions are:
- The object was in “plain view” (so no actual search was necessary).
- A search of your body and your immediate surroundings is permissible after you are lawfully arrested.
- A frisk of your clothing is permissible if the officer reasonably suspects that you are guilty of a crime.
- A search of your vehicle is permissible when there is probable cause to believe evidence will be uncovered that way.
What is the exclusionary rule?
The exclusionary rule, based on the Fourth Amendment, allows evidence to be kept out of court if it was seized illegally. If the police illegally searched your home and found drugs, for example, you can use the exclusionary rule to exclude the drugs from the State’s trial evidence.
Is OWI (DUI) ever charged as a felony in Iowa?
Yes, a third offense is a felony. Since Iowa’s “lookback period” is 12 years, two previous offenses within the last twelve years will leave you facing a felony charge if you are arrested a third time. In most cases, even an out-of-state conviction will count against you, regardless of the “lookback period” in the other state.
Can my accuser end the prosecution by refusing to press charges?
No. This is a common misunderstanding propagated by television shows — only the prosecutor can drop charges. Of course, a prosecution might become impossibly difficult if the accuser refuses to cooperate, which might tempt the prosecutor to drop the charges against you.
What is the entrapment defense?
In an entrapment defense, you allege that the police (or some other government agent) lured you into committing a crime that you would not otherwise have committed. To win, you essentially must show that you are not the kind of person who would ordinarily commit such a crime.
Should I talk to the police?
This is such an important question. You should never talk to the police unless your lawyer is present. One of the biggest mistakes criminal defendants make is trying to talk their way out of an arrest or a criminal charge. The police have many ways of eliciting statements from you that can be used against you later, even if you are innocent. The police can lie to you. They are not your friend.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
Choosing the right lawyer to defend you against criminal charges is not like choosing the right painter to paint your house —— it’s more like choosing the right surgeon to remove a brain tumor. Although in rare cases “ineffective assistance of counsel” can be used to reverse a conviction, it is far better to secure an effective criminal defense in the first place.
My peers in the legal profession have already commented on my effectiveness as an attorney:
- In 2017, I was named one of Iowa’s “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers. Only one in forty Iowa lawyers earn this distinction.
- My rating on the Martindale-Hubbell international legal directory is “Distinguished.”
- Since 2016, I have been rated 10/10 (“Superb”) by the prominent Avvo legal rating service.
Don’t Let the Glue of Circumstance Harden Around Your Feet
The more time I have to prepare your defense, the better your chances will be. The time to act is now! If you live in the Cedar Rapids area (or anywhere in Eastern Iowa), or if you were arrested or charged here, feel free to contact me online or call my office at (319) 774-6078 for an initial evaluation of your case. I can come to visit you in jail if necessary.