Is There A Warrant Out For Your Arrest?

is there a warrant for your arrest

 

Is there a warrant out for your arrest? Chances are you can’t find out on your own. Arrest warrants are sealed until they are executed. That means law enforcement cannot and will not tell you if you have an active arrest warrant. It also means your warrant will not appear on Iowa Courts Online. However, the lawyers at Stowers & Sarcone, PLC can often find out if you have an active arrest warrant. We utilize our sources within law enforcement and the prosecution to determine if there is an active warrant for your arrest. But finding the warrant is just the first step.

If you have an active arrest warrant we can help. There is no need for the cops to arrest you at your home or business. Instead, we can proactively handle the warrant by:

  • Filing a motion to recall the warrant
  • Arranging a time for you to turn yourself in and bond out or
  • Appearing in Court and asking the judge to recall the warrant and set new court dates

Warrants are nerve wrenching. We understand your constant worry, “Do I have an arrest warrant”? Do not live in limbo. Do not let armed police officers storm your home or business. You cannot avoid an arrest warrant forever.

Let the attorneys at Stowers & Sarcone, PLC help you. Your warrant will not disappear. Avoiding it won’t make it go away. You will get arrested by armed police officers unless you hire a lawyer with experience disposing of active arrest warrants. So, if you think there is a warrant for your arrest, call Dean Stowers or Nick Sarcone. Stop worrying and start living. 515.224.7446.

Police Airplane Caught You Speeding?

airplane speeding ticket

A police airplane caught you speeding? Or did it? The Iowa State Patrol and other Iowa law enforcement agencies utilize aircraft to allegedly catch speeders. This method of speed enforcement seems super hi-tech, right? It isn’t. In fact, its highly unscientific and prone to substantial error.

Several years ago I tried an airplane speeding case in Mason City, Iowa. I came away enlightened (and with a not guilty jury verdict). Have you ever wondered what those painted white blocks are in the middle of interstate lanes. You are not alone. I used to wonder all the time. Those blocks are used to clock vehicles from an airplane. Here is how it worked in my case:

A state trooper piloted an aircraft over the interstate. While flying, he also watched the traffic on the interstate. When a vehicle crossed a painted white block the trooper started a stopwatch. When the vehicle crossed the next white block he stopped the stopwatch. Then he inputted the time into a formula which computed the vehicle’s speed. The Trooper then radioed down to another officer to stop my client and ticket him.

Seems legit. However, the formula used to compute speed is completely time dependent and the speed computation changes greatly by the second. In my case, the Trooper admitted that the cars looked like little dots from his vantage point in the air. If the cars looked like dots you can guess what the little painted white blocks looked like (assuming they are really even visible). Moreover, the Trooper admitted in addition to flying the airplane and watching traffic out the side window of the aircraft, he ran three stopwatches simultaneously. On top of it all, the the curvature of the earth actually distorts how you view things from the air to the ground.

I argued that any one of these factors, let alone all of them together, cast doubt that the Trooper’s speed computation was accurate beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury agreed and found my client not guilty. So next time you get a speeding ticket, make sure it didn’t come from the air. If it did, call Stowers & Sarcone – 515.224.7446.

Child Pornography Investigation: Police seize computers, phones.

child porn charges

Child pornography investigations often start like this:

The police show up at your home or business and execute a search warrant.  They seize your computers, phones, hard drives and other electronics. You had no idea you were under investigation. You’re in shock. You’re scared. And, your family had no idea. Now you have to explain it to your wife. What do you do? It’s a nightmare.

We handle multiple child pornography cases every year. Most begin with some version the aforementioned story. But child pornography investigations do not end with the search warrant. Your electronics are sent to a federal lab for analysis. The police search for any evidence of child pornography. They can uncover hidden directories and recover deleted files. Nothing you viewed or stored on your computer or phone is safe. The analysis may take months or years to complete.

It is difficult to face anyone under these circumstances. But, immediately hiring an experienced lawyer can significantly improve your situation. Federal child pornography charges have mandatory minimum sentences starting at 5 years. Some charges have 10 or 20 year mandatory minimums. An experienced lawyer can immediately start advocating to influence the government’s charging decision. Moreover, an experienced lawyer can advise you on positive, proactive steps to take while awaiting charges. The worst thing is to sit around and wait for the government’s hammer to drop.

Federal child pornography law is complex and the risks are high. Dean Stowers and Nick Sarcone have years of experience handling federal child pornography cases. We know how to advocate for you before charges are filed and how to handle your case if charges are filed. We will not judge you. We will help you. Contact us at 515-224-7446.

4th Amendment Suppression Motion: Case Dismissed

4th amendment traffic stop

Firearm and Drug Possession Case Dismissed

On January 12, 2018, Dean Stowers obtained the dismissal of a client’s firearm and drug possession case.  Dean successfully argued that the officer did not have probable cause to pull over the Defendant’s vehicle after the officer gave conflicting reasons for the stop.

Probable Cause

Law enforcement must have probable cause  or reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle.  In this case, during courtroom testimony the officer stated that he stopped the vehicle for speeding. However, video from his dash cam revealed he never mentioned speeding as a reason for the stop.  In fact, he asserted on video that he stopped the vehicle for suspected activity in a previous altercation.  Additionally, the Court determined from the video that the Defendant was not speeding, and as a result it was not legal for the officer to stop his vehicle.

Suppression of Evidence  

When an Iowa court concludes evidence was discovered through a constitutional violation, it orders the evidence suppressed. That means the State cannot used any information it learned or obtained as a result of the constitutional violation. In this case, where all of the information was derived from the unconstitutional traffic stop, there was simply no evidence left upon which the prosecution could sustain a charge. Hence, the prosecution dismissed the case.

Iowa Criminal Defense Attorneys

Law enforcement officers make unlawful traffic stops every single day.  The attorneys at Stowers and Sarcone know your constitutional rights and have a dedicated track record of holding law enforcement to the proper procedures.  Don’t let a potential defense to your case go unnoticed!  Contact us today at 515 224 7446.

Modifying an Iowa No Contact Order

Iowa No Contact Order

HOW TO MODIFY A NO CONTACT ORDER

Modifying a no contact order can be complicated business. There are several types of no contact orders in Iowa. No contact orders which accompany a criminal charge (i.e. domestic assault, harassment, abuse etc.) are the subject of this post. As a charged defendant you should discuss modification with your attorney. No contact orders can be modified, prior to completion of your case. Modifications typically permit child visitation and phone-text-email communication. A modification requires your lawyer to make a motion to the court. A hearing is then set for your attorney to explain to the court the reasons for your requested modification. Most no contact orders will not be dropped until your criminal case is over (and some will survive the case).

As the “protected party”, the person whom the no contact order is designed to protect, you should discuss modification with your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer you should retain one to assist you. Modification of no contact orders can be difficult and may require you to appear before a judge. Iowa judges may ask you questions related to the crime you reported. If you deny the crime occurred, or make materially false statements, you could set yourself up for prosecution.

The attorneys at Stowers & Sarcone, PLC regularly handle modifications of criminal no contact orders. Additionally, our attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases from traffic tickets to major state and federal felonies. If you need help modifying a no contact order or have a criminal charge, call us immediately. 515.224.7446

Sessions Rescinds Obama Pot Policy

Marijuana legalization

SESSIONS DECLARES WAR ON POT

In a stunning, but not unexpected move, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the Justice Department’s policy of non-interference with States that have decriminalized and/or legalized marijuana. Cannabis and its derivatives have long been illegal to use, possess and distribute under federal law. Weed is actually still illegal to use, possess and distribute in most states.

However, in the last 20 years several states have decriminalized the possession of pot. A few states have made its medicinal or recreational use and distribution legal under state law. As a result, the Obama administration’s justice department developed a policy of non-interference in these states. In other words, as long as the states managed their pot responsibly, the DEA, FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies would not enforce federal laws prohibiting marijuana. In actual fact, United States Attorney offices around the country essentially quit prosecuting marijuana cases. That may all be changing.

PROSECUTIONS FOR MARIJUANA LOOMING

It is unclear whether Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memos policy guidance means the feds will start enforcing federal laws prohibiting marijuana. The status quo could hold, but Sessions disdain for marijuana is well documented. Your “legal” weed may soon land you in serious federal trouble. Federal drug charges can carry 5, 10, 20 or even lifetime mandatory minimums depending on the type and amount of drug and your criminal history. Most federal drug cases are charged as a conspiracy. A person does not even have to touch the drug to become part of a federal conspiracy case. In short, if you live in or visit a state where pot is “legal” and you choose to smoke or join a pot business, watch your back. The feds may not be far away.

Stowers & Sarcone, PLC

Seized Cash Successfully Returned to Rightful Owner

Civil-asset-forfeiture

Court: Authorities Must Return $167,000 in Seized Cash

In a May 8 ruling, a Polk County District Court judge ruled authorities must return over $167,000  unlawfully taken from our client whom officers wrongfully suspected of identity theft.  Our client was stopped, seized and his vehicle searched all because the police mistakenly believed he was involved in an identity theft case. During the search, the police found the chash and other items which resulted in criminal charges.

The State, attempting to keep the money, filed a forfeiture action in the Iowa District Court. However, the cash was returned after the State failed to file a notice of pending forfeiture as required under Iowa Code Section 809A.8.  Iowa Code Chapters 809 and 809A require the State follow a stringent forfeiture procedure before permanently taking property from private citizens.  Seized property and cash must be returned if the State fails to comply. 

Criminal Charges Dismissed

As noted, our client faced several criminal charges as well.  Dean Stowers successfully argued that the police searched our client’s vehicle in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Thus, even if the State had followed the proper forfeiture procedure, the cash was illegally seized and had to be returned.

Iowa Forfeiture Attorneys

Millions of dollars are seized every year from law-abiding citizens.  State and Federal law enforcement agencies make billions of dollars each year stealing cash and property from private citizens. The attorneys at Stowers and Sarcone are well versed in Iowa forfeiture law and are dedicated to relentlessly seeking the return of your unjustly and illegally seized property. Don’t let the government illegally profit off you!  Contact us today at 515-224-7446.

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.