Des Moines Criminal Defense Lawyers

Des Moines criminal lawyer

There are many criminal defense lawyers in the Des Moines, Iowa area. Who you choose to represent you may make a significant difference in the outcome of your criminal case. At Stowers & Sarcone, PLC virtually all of our cases are criminal cases. As criminal defense lawyers, we take pride in offering aggressive, creative, high quality legal representation. We not only work out cases hard but we work them smart. Our goal is to get you the best possible result; not just the easiest one. Our job is to represent YOU! We are not interested in cutting deals which will not help YOU! We do not pander to the State, we do not back down from a fight and we will not be deterred in our mission to see your case through to its final and best outcome.


Criminal defense lawyers handle all types of criminal cases. At Stowers & Sarcone, we provide representation in Des Moines and all over the State of Iowa. We represent clients in Iowa State and Iowa Federal Court. Some examples of the cases we handle include:

  •  Traffic Tickets
  • Assault & Domestic Assault
  • Drug Possession & Trafficking
  • Burglary & Robbery
  • Theft, Fraud & Forgery
  • Homicide and Violent Crimes
  • Sex Abuse, Rape, Child Pornography & Other Sex Crimes
  • Criminal Mischief, Trespass & Other Property Crimes
  • Supervised Release & Probation Violations
  • All Criminal Cases in State & Federal Court
  • Federal and State Appeals


For us, no case is too small and no case is too big, complex or complicated. We will travel from Des Moines to anywhere in Iowa. We have successfully litigated major cases which have created major changes in the law. We routinely litigate minor traffic matters like speeding tickets and school bus stop infractions. Your case is important to you and therefore, it is important to us! 


If you would like to read about some of our successful trials and appeals click here and here. If you or a loved one need a criminal lawyer, call us! 515.224.7446.


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.

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.


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.

Iowa Knife Laws

In one of my previous posts, I explained how Iowa law defines what a dangerous weapon is. I warned that it is illegal for a person to go armed with a dangerous weapon. Now, I want to talk about Iowa knife laws.

It is illegal for a person to carry a knife if that person intends to use this knife in the commission of a crime. According to § 724.4(2), a person who goes armed with a knife concealed on or about the person, if the person uses a knife in the commission of a crime, commits an aggravated misdemeanor.

Iowa law specifies what knives a person is allowed to carry concealed on or about that person’s body. According to Section 724.4(3) of the Iowa Code:

A person who goes armed with a knife concealed on or about the person, if the person does not use the knife in the commission of a crime:

  • Commits an aggravated misdemeanor if the knife has a blade exceeding eight inches in length. This offense is punishable by a fine between $625 and $6,250 and at most a two-year prison sentence.
  • Commits a serious misdemeanor if the knife has a blade exceeding five inches but not exceeding eight inches in length. This offense is punishable by a fine between $315 and $1,875 and a jail sentence of up to one year.

The law allows a person to carry knives that exceed those limitations in the person’s own dwelling or place of business, or on land owned or possessed by the person. A person also is allowed to carry a knife used in hunting or fishing, while actually engaged in lawful hunting or fishing. Iowa Code Ann. § 702.7 (West).

Some knives are dangerous weapons per se. A person cannot carry them concealed or open. For example, a person cannot carry daggers, razors, stilettos, balisongs, or strait razors. That means that even if a dagger’s blade is less than five inches, a person cannot carry it.

This is a short summary of Iowa Knife Laws.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, call Stowers & Sarcone today at (515) 224-7446. Protect your rights! Act now!

What Are the Consequences of Driving While Suspended on Iowa Roads?

According to Section 321.218 of the Iowa Code, a person whose driver’s license or operating privilege has been denied, canceled, suspended, or revoked, commits a simple misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by:

Readers of my blog know, that a police officer cannot stop a driver without a reason. At the same time, every day, officers stop a decent number of drivers for driving while suspended. Why does that happen? It happens because police officers often run license plate checks when they are on patrol. When a license plate check shows that a vehicle owner’s license was suspended, a policeman stops the car.

Is this a valid reason for the traffic stop? The Iowa Supreme Court said yes. In State v. Vance, 790 N.W.2d 775, 781-82 (Iowa 2010), the Iowa Supreme Court held that an officer has reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigatory stop of a vehicle to investigate whether the driver has a valid driver’s license when the officer knows the registered owner of the vehicle has a suspended license, and the officer is unaware of any evidence or circumstances indicating the registered owner is not the driver of the vehicle.

The court concluded that because:

  • it is reasonable for an officer to infer the registered owner of the vehicle will do the vast amount of the driving;
  • that inference is sufficiently reasonable to generate reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop to resolve the ambiguity as to whether criminal activity is afoot.

That is why we strongly encourage you not to drive a vehicle if your license or operating privilege has been denied, canceled, suspended, or revoked. The possible way out from this situation could be to apply for an Iowa Restricted License.

If your license was suspended or revoked, feel free to call me at Stowers and Sarcone at 515.224.7446. I will be able to help you!

New Iowa Medical Marijuana Legislation

As I wrote recently, it is a crime to possess and use any kind of marijuana products in Iowa. However, in 2014, Iowa’s medical marijuana law took effect. The law allowed patients with severe epilepsy to use medical cannabis oil and cannabis oil only to relieve their symptoms. Section 124D of the Iowa Code that is known as Medical Cannabidiol Act authorizes the Iowa Department of Public Health to approve the issuance of a Cannabidiol Registration Card to a person who has intractable epilepsy or to a primary caregiver of a person who has intractable epilepsy. This includes, for example, parents whose kids suffer from epilepsy. To become a medical marijuana patient in Iowa and to get a card you:

  • Must be a resident of Iowa with a valid Iowa I.D. as proof of residency
  • Obtain a copy of your medical records indicating that you are diagnosed with a qualifying condition
  • Obtain written documentation from a physician licensed in the state of Iowa that that you are a qualifying patient. Be sure to bring your medical records with you to your appointment
  • Apply for and receive a Medical Marijuana Card from the state of Iowa

So, a patient can get a Medical Marijuana Card. But how about the access to prescription cannabis oil for those patients? Now, it is illegal to grow marijuana in Iowa and to extract oil from it. That means that you can get a card but you cannot buy prescription cannabis oil in Iowa. Ironically, it cost the state more than $100,000 to create and issue registration cards to about 50 people. Those people have cards but cannot buy prescription cannabis oil in Iowa. House Representative Peter Cownie said, “We have a law on the books that allows you to possess it, but you can’t get it.” As a result, parents have to travel to Colorado to access the oil. That constitutes a crime because federal law prohibits the transportation of marijuana across state lines.

There is a chance that the situation will change for the better in the future. Recently, the above-mentioned Representative Cownie proposed a bill that would bring cannabis oil production and sales to Iowa. A new bill is supposed to make it legal to grow medical marijuana, make cannabis oil and setup dispensaries in Iowa. If the bill becomes a law, Iowans with Medical Marijuana Cards will get access to prescription marijuana oil.

I am Nick Sarcone, attorney at Stowers and Sarcone. If you have questions about medical marijuana, feel free to reach me at (515) 224-7446.

How Your Careless Posts on Social Media Could Be Used Against You

Police search cell phone

We all love social media. Nowadays, it is hard to find a person who does not have a Facebook or an Instagram account. Even the Iowa State Patrol has its own Facebook page (LINK). However, careless posting on those accounts has consequences, sometimes, even criminal consequences. Our experience shows that the information from social networks is often used in criminal trials. This evidence became a critical element in an increasing number of court cases. Prosecutors across the country utilize social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to research information about the backgrounds of parties, witnesses, opposing counsels, jurors, and even judges.

Prosecutors use pictures from Facebook as evidence. For example, recently, a Florida man who killed his wife and posted a photo of her dead body on Facebook was convicted of a second-degree murder after failing to convince a jury that he shot her eight times in self-defense.

Next, evidence from social networking sites can reveal personal communications, establish motives and personal relationships. It can also prove and disprove alibis because postings sometimes provide location information.  Accordingly, a person should be careful when he or she posts something on Facebook. “Once you put something out on the Internet, it’s there forever,” said Hamilton Police Lt. Carl Sigmon. You need to be careful about what you actually put on the Internet because you never know where it’s going to wind up.”

A story that recently happened to 50 Cent, the rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, could be a good example of careless posting. Last year, Mr. Jackson filed for bankruptcy. However, subsequently, he posted several photos on his Instagram account showing him with wads of cash. In one Instagram photo, he uses stacks of bills to spell out the word “broke.”  As a result, the judge ordered him to appear in court and to explain those photos.

I am Nick Sarcone, attorney at Stowers and Sarcone. If you have questions about this or any other criminal law question, feel free to reach me at (515) 224-7446.

Forfeiture Attorney: Iowa’s Cash Seizure Cops Target Out-of-State Drivers

Iowa forfeiture attorney cash seizure targets out of state drivers

I’m an attorney, I handle significant forfeiture cases and I know that Iowa’s cash seizure cops do target our-of-state drivers. A few months back I posted an Editorial from the Des Moines Register, “Patrol forfeitures target out-of-state drivers“. I didn’t say much about it at the time so I wanted to revisit the editorial and discuss it for my readers.

The editorial was written days 4 days after the Iowa Supreme Court decided In the Matter of Property Seized from Pardee. Pardee, is a case that I litigated in the District Court, Iowa Court of Appeals and ultimately won in the Iowa Supreme Court. Pardee is a cash seizure/forfeiture case involving $33,100.00 in seized cash. An Iowa State Trooper claimed he initially stopped Mr. Pardee and Pardee’s friend for several minor traffic offenses. While, technically true, the Trooper really stopped Mr. Pardee because he wanted to conduct an interdiction investigation to determine whether Pardee had drugs or cash in the vehicle. The Trooper found a few joints and the $33,100.00 in cash in the car. Mr. Pardee was acquitted of all drug charges but the State still forfeited his cash. I argued repeatedly that the Trooper’s actions violated Mr. Pardee’s constitutional rights and the Iowa Supreme Court eventually sided with me. The Court ruled that the Trooper’s actions violated Mr. Pardee’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal searches and seizures.

Importantly, in Pardee, Trooper Eric Vander Weil admitted that he and other members of the Iowa State Patrol Interdiction Teams target out-of-state drivers for these so-called “interdiction stops” – traffic stops not made for traffic enforcement but which are actually intended to result in a search of the stopped vehicle. According to the editorial, the testimony I elicited from Tooper Vander Weil directly contradicted the official line out of the Iowa State Patrol –

“I can tell you, we’re not targeting out-of-staters. We’re out there enforcing the law, and they make a traffic stop, and that’s when they find the criminal activity that’s occurring coming across the interstates.” – Sgt. Scott Bright, Iowa State Patrol.

In addition, I also secured Trooper Vander Weil’s warning and citation data (collectively “tickets”) via an Iowa open records request. The data revealed that he wrote over 90% of his tickets to out-of-state drivers.

Something is most assuredly wrong when law enforcement must blatantly lie to the public about their actions and motives. Surely, if there were nothing “suspect” in either, there would be no need for dishonesty. As an attorney who regularly fights forfeiture cases, I find the Iowa State Patrol’s actions to be incredibly disturbing and I applaud the Des Moines Register for their editorial. I am happy to have shed light on the subject and will keep fighting hard to ensure the protection of everyone’s constitutional rights, including our friends from the other 49 states.

What Are the Financial Costs Associated With OWI in Iowa?

In Iowa, operating while intoxicated (OWI), first offense, is punishable by:

  • A minimum period of imprisonment in the county jail of forty-eight hours. The court may defer the judgment and place the driver on probation
  • Assessment of a fine of $1,250
  • Revocation of the person’s driving license for a minimum period of one hundred eighty days
  • Complete a substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment
  • A drinking drivers course

OWI in Iowa is a serious criminal offense. That said, I want to discuss financial consequences of a first time OWI. In this post, I’m going to summarize the costs that are associated with a first offense OWI in Iowa.

As it was already mentioned, the driver must pay a fine of $1,250. Moreover, pursuant to Chapter 911 of Iowa Code, a surcharge equal to 35% of the fine is imposed by the State. That means that the driver will pay additional $438 on top of the fine. There are also court costs assessed, which will be no lower than $65, but could be higher depending on various factors.

In most cases, the driver will also be put on probation. Probation charges a fee of $300 for a person to be on probation. The driver will also be required to obtain a substance abuse evaluation. The average price is $125 for a standard substance abuse evaluation. If there is any recommended treatment, the person will have to pay for and undergo that substance abuse treatment. The cost of treatment can be very expensive. Additionally, the driver may have to complete a drinking drivers program, which will likely cost about $350.

In some cases, to get a temporary restricted driving license the driver will have to install an ignition interlock device on all motor vehicles that he owns and operates. Very often people lease ignition interlock devices. The price is about $80 a month. Installation prices vary. Some companies offer free installation. Thus, if the driver owns two cars but uses only one, he will have to pay $160 a month.

Finally, to reinstate the driving license the driver will have to pay a civil penalty to the Department of Transportation in the amount of $200 and obtain SR-22 high risk driving insurance. The high risk insurance will raise a person’s insurance premium rates.

In really serious cases, when OWI lead to an incident that resulted in bodily or other injury, the driver will have to pay restitution to the victim. Moreover, the driver will have to pay the costs of the emergency response resulting from the actions constituting a violation and $55 a day for any time spent in jail.

As you can see, the driver who is guilty of OWI will pay a lot of fines and costs. That is why it is always important to have an attorney who will guide you through this process and will save your money. If you were charged with OWI in Iowa or have any questions about OWI in Iowa, please, call Stowers and Sarcone at (515) 224-7446.