Stowers & Sarcone: Vehicular Homicide Case Dismissed!

Vehicular Homicide

VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CASE DISMISSED

On July 6, 2017 Dean obtained the complete dismissal of a vehicular homicide case. Unfortunately, Dean’s client rear ended a vehicle on the interstate causing a chain reaction which led to the other driver’s death. He momentarily took his eyes off the road looking for a water bottle in his car. At the exact same moment, the car in front of him rapidly stopped. Dean’s client could not stop in time and rear ended the car propelling it into oncoming traffic. Tragically, the vehicle was his by a semi and the driver died.

VEHICULAR HOMICIDE BY RECKLESS DRIVING

The State charged Dean’s client with vehicular homicide in violation of Iowa Code Section 707.6A(2)(a):

2. A person commits a class “C” felony when the person unintentionally causes the death of another by any of the following means:

a. Driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, in violation of section 321.277.

Therefore, the State had to show that Dean’s client drove recklessly and knew he would, more likely than not, cause harm to another person or property.

DEAN STOWERS SUCCESSFUL ARGUMENT; VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CHARGE DISMISSED

In defense, Dean filed a motion to dismiss the case. In the motion Dean argued that his client had not engaged in reckless conduct which he knew would likely cause harm or death to another person. More importantly, Dean argued the State did not present any evidence to support the charge.

On July 6, 2017, Iowa District Court Judge Martha Mertz agreed. Judge Mertz found that Dean’s client could not have known, nor anticipated, that his conduct would result in an accident nor the unfortunate events which transpired after. The Judge also found the State’s evidence did not support the charge. Therefore, Judge Mertz dismissed the case.

STOWERS & SARCONE, PLC WILL DEFEND YOU

Our mission is to provide cutting edge, high quality legal defense for you or your loved ones. Let us put our skills and dedication to work for you. Call 515.224.7446 now!

Iowa’s New Fireworks Law Explained

Iowa Fireworks Laws

IOWA’S NEW FIREWORKS LAW

Today, May 9, 2017, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is expected to sign Iowa Senate File 489  – permitting the sale and use of consumer fireworks in Iowa – into law. The law, like Missouri’s, is not an outright legalization of all fireworks all the time. In fact, the law has some pretty significant restrictions on the use of fireworks. Let’s go through the bams and booms of the law:

 RESTRICTIONS

Time of Year – Fireworks can only be sold and used during the following days:

  • June 1 – July 8
  • December 10 – January 3

Time of Day – Fireworks can only be used during the following time periods on the previously noted days:

  • 9:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. except –
    • 9:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M. on July 4th and the Saturdays and Sundays immediately preceding and following July 4th
    • 9:00 A.M. December 31 – 12:30 A.M. January 1st
    • 9:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M. the Saturdays and Sundays immediately preceding and following December 31 (Uh Oh Christmas!)

LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL RESTRICTIONS

County – County Boards of Supervisors can pass resolutions or ordinances limiting or prohibiting fireworks if the find they constitute any of the following:

  1. Threat to Public Safety
  2. Threat to Public Property
  3. A Nuisance

City/Municipal – A City Council may pass a resolution or ordinance limiting or prohibiting fireworks solely at their own discretion.

PENALTIES

All direct violations of the fireworks laws are simple misdemeanors punishable by no less than a $250 fine. The law also prohibits jail time if you merely used fireworks on a day or at a time not authorized. However, if you use them and your city or county has limited them, it is possible to get up to 30 days in jail. The same is true if you sell them without a license or permit.

If you are interested in becoming a licensed fireworks dealer, the law set forth the requirements for obtaining your license through the State Fire Marshall’s Office. Click the link to get more information.

There isn’t much more to it. June 1st is less than a month a way so look out for the pop up fireworks tents in your local grocers parking lot! If you would like more information on Iowa’s new fireworks law do not hesitate to contact us at Stowers & Sarcone, PLC 515-224-7446!

COULD IT GET WORSE FOR CHRIS SOULES?

Soules penalties worse

Yesterday’s post discussed Chris Soules potential civil and criminal liability. To keep it simple, I left out one vital piece of the puzzle. So, could it get worse for Chris Soules? Oh ya!

As I explained yesterday, Chris Soules is charged with violating Iowa Code Section 321.261 – Commonly referred to as Leaving the Scene of an Accident. I believe the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department is likely considering whether a basis exists for Vehicular Homicide by OWI charges (Iowa Code Section 707.6A). Individually, the charges carry a 5 year and a 25 year prison term respectively. However, in Iowa, prison terms are indeterminate. This means the Iowa Parole Board gets to decide when a defendant will be released from custody. If a defendant receives a 5 year sentence, he or she will do anywhere from 1 day up to 5 years at the discretion of the Iowa Parole Board .

However, under Iowa Code Section 902.12, when a person is convicted of BOTHLeaving the Scene of an Accident AND Vehicular Homicide by OWI – the Vehicular Homicide 25 year prison sentence comes with a mandatory minimum 70%. Thus, if Chris Soules were convicted of both, he would face 17.5 years in prison before he became parole eligible (minus some good time credits of course). So ya, it can ‘mandatory minimum’ worse.

Chris Soules 911 Call

Des Moines based KCCI Television has posted an audio recording of Chris Soules 911 call. He called 911 and attempted to help Mosher before fleeing. Warning: Some might find this disturbing. Click Here.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO CHRIS SOULES?

Let me start off by noting that while this is a news story many people are interested in, a man died.  According to the Iowa State Patrol, 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher, a farmer from Aurora, Iowa, was killed Monday night when Soules truck rear ended Mosher’s tractor sending it and him into a ditch. Mosher was likely someone’s husband, father, brother and/or grandfather. Bear that in mind as we discuss what might happen to Chris Soules.

CRASH FACTS

At around 8:30 p.m. Monday night, Kenneth Mosher was driving a tractor in the 1000 block of Slater Avenue just north of Aurora, Iowa. According to police reports Soules was driving a 2008 Chevy pickup when he allegedly crashed into the back of Mosher’s tractor sending Mosher into the ditch and Soules into the opposite ditch. As noted, Mosher later died from his injuries. Apparently, Soules fled on foot but was apprehended a short time later and taken to the hospital. He has been charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Death in violation of Iowa Code Section 321.261, A Class D Felony.

THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

Click here for the Chris Soules Criminal Complaint filed this morning in Buchanan County, Iowa.

CONSEQUENCES

LEAVING THE SCENE CAUSING DEATH

Iowa Code Section 321.261 states:

“The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible and if able, shall then return to and remain at the scene of the accident in accordance with section 321.263. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.”

Failing to stop when an accident causes someone’s death is a Class D Felony. In Iowa, Class D Felonies are punishable by a maximum indeterminate prison term of five years. That means if found guilty, Soules could be sentenced to five years in prison. However, he would likely serve far less than five years due to Iowa’s good time credit laws. He would also be eligible for probation in lieu of prison.

VEHICULAR HOMICIDE BY OWI

Iowa Code Section 707.6A states:

“A person commits a class “B” felony when the person unintentionally causes the death of another by operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, as prohibited by section 321J.2.”

You might be wondering at this point why I have included vehicular homicide as a potential consequence? It has been reported that alcohol was found at the scene of the crash. The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department also stated that Soules was taken to the hospital after he was apprehended. He may have been asked to submit to field sobriety tests, a breath test, or a give blood or urine sample. If he did not do so voluntarily, a warrant may have been obtained to collect a blood sample for chemical testing. Thus, it seems vehicular homicide is a potential charge.

Causing the unintentional death of another by operating while intoxicated (OWI) is a Class B Felony in Iowa. Class B Felonies are punishable by a maximum indeterminate term of 25 years in prison. Additionally, if convicted of this crime, Iowa law requires the Court to sentence Soules to prison. Probation is not an option.

CIVIL LAWSUIT CONSIDERATIONS

Reports are that Soules is worth over 1 million dollars. A wrongful death civil lawsuit is likely to follow any criminal case. If Soules is convicted of either of the above charges he will likely be precluded from claiming he “did not do it” in any civil trial. Thus, the only question would be how much money to award the victim’s estate and any other plaintiffs. Such an award would be offset by any restitution ordered in the criminal case.

On the other hand, should Soules be acquitted, he can challenge the “what happened” in a civil lawsuit. The burden of proof in a civil case is not beyond a reasonable doubt, however. It is merely, a preponderance of the evidence. So his defense would likely be more difficult. Hence, why OJ was acquitted criminally but found liable in civil court.

If Soules were to be found liable, any judgment awarded the plaintiffs could be executed against Soules property, including his farms.

http://www.tmz.com/videos/0_0hi77kin – Court Video

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Every person in the United States is considered innocent until proven guilty. Chris Soules is an innocent man unless and until the State of Iowa proves his guilt beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. That said, there is no doubt that he killed a man last night. That does not mean his actions were criminal but they were most definitely tragic.

 

The team at Stowers & Sarcone, PLC is dedicating to providing only the highest quality criminal defense. If you or a loved one are charged with a crime you need the best possible defense. Visit our website and call us now!

DETAILS: BUCHANAN COUNTY SHERIFF SAYS CHRIS SOULES ARRESTED FOR LEAVING SCENE OF ACCIDENT CAUSING DEATH

Des Moines Register Story

“Bachelor” star Chris Soules has been accused of leaving the scene of a deadly crash, according to the Buchanan County Jail.

A call to Soules’ cell phone went directly to voicemail and

Soules was booked into the jail at 1:16 a.m., on a criminal charge of leaving the scene of an accident at which a death occurred, the jail told The Register.

KWWL is reporting the arrest is in connection with a fatal crash Monday night.

Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office dispatch got a call at about 8:20 p.m. Monday that a pickup truck had collided with a tractor north of Aurora in Buchanan County, said Deputy Cory Hartmann, who responded to the scene, told The Register.

Identities of the victim and the pickup driver and the medical condition of the pickup driver were not available Monday night.

The tractor driver was an older man, Hartmann said, and was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Oelwein, where he was pronounced dead.

Iowa Forfeiture Law “Reform” Bill

seized property civil forfeiture
IOWA SENATE FILE 446

Today the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee introduced Senate File 446 (SF 446). This legislation proposes a few meaningful revisions to Iowa’s civil forfeiture laws.  The 5 changes coming to Iowa Code Chapter 809A if SF 446 passes:

  • SF 446 requires a criminal conviction before the State seeks forfeiture of property valued at less than $15,000.00
  • SF 446 generally prohibits the transfer of property to the federal government valued at less than $100,000.00
  • SF 446 codifies the constitutional proportionality test prohibiting forfeiture of assets grossly disproportionate in value to the penalties for the alleged criminal conduct.
  •  SF 446 requires seizing agencies to keep records on seized and forfeited property.
  • SF 446’s most substantial change raises the State’s burden of proof from “a preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence”.

Raising the burden of proof is a substantial improvement to Chapter 809A. The hierarchy of trial burdens from most to least rigorous is:

  • Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
  • Clear and Convincing Evidence
  • Preponderance of the Evidence

A preponderance of the evidence simply means more likely than not. Clear and convincing evidence means substantially more likely than not.  Words may not adequately convey the difference. However, substantially more likely than not is a more difficult burden to meet than just more likely than not. That change alone makes SF 446 worth supporting.

FUTURE CHANGES TO IOWA FORFEITURE LAW

Nick lobbied the senate judiciary committee for additional changes to Iowa’s forfeiture laws including:

  • Attorney’s fees for prevailing claimants; and
  • Creating a pre-claim/answer motion to suppress.

Though these changes did not make it into SF 446, we will continue to lobby for them in future legislative sessions.

The full text of SF 446 is below

Iowa Arrest Warrants: How To Find Out If You Have An Arrest Warrant

arrest warrant iowa

Do I have an arrest warrant? This is a question we field almost every week at Stowers & Sarcone, PLC. When a typical arrest warrant is filed in Iowa, it is sealed. That means you cannot see it on Iowa Courts Online. Many people do not know for sure if they have a warrant until the cops show up.

So what can you do if you suspect there is a warrant our for your arrest? Well, you can start by calling us. It maybe very difficult for you to determine if you have an arrest warrant. Often the police, the jail, the prosecutor or any other person you call, cannot or will not reveal that information to you. However as your lawyer, we are in a better position to obtain that information. The same people who will not give you any information will often give us the information. Thus, it makes sense to hire a lawyer.

The other upside is that we can work with the police to arrange to have you cited and released, or for a turn in date, or avoid the warrant altogether. If all else fails, we can determine your bond amount and arrange for a bondsman to bail you out as soon as you go into custody. In short, if you think there is a warrant for your arrest, you should call us. We can help you find out and work through your legal issues. Do not hesitate! Call 515.224.7446.

 

Felon in Possession of a Fire Arm? Avoid Facebook!

It’s Friday and Fridays call for FREE legal advice! So here goes…

If you are a convicted felon it is illegal to possess a firearm under federal law. Apparently, Israel Torres, the leader of a Patriot movement group in Phoenix, forgot that when he posted these pictures of himself shooting a Colt .45 on Facebook.

felon in possession firearm

Unfortunately for Torres, the FBI and ATF noticed. Now, Torres is charged in federal court and facing ten years in federal prison. Read the full article here.

So, your FREE Friday legal advice:

1. If you are a convicted felon avoid firearms like the plague.

2. If you are a convicted felon DO NOT POST PICTURES OF YOURSELF HOLDING A GUN ON FACEBOOK!

Have a good Friday everyone! Remember if you need a lawyer call Stowers & Sarcone, PLC at 515.224.7446. Feel free to leave comments below.