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Des Moines Criminal Defense Blog

Understanding "attempt" charges in Iowa

You may have heard of criminal convictions happening based on the defendant's attempt to commit a crime. In some cases, taking steps to commit a crime without actually carrying it out can still result in criminal penalties.

The area of attempted crimes can present complex legal questions. Speaking with your defense attorney can help you further understand how this area of law may relate to your case.

Returning rental equipment late could result in a theft charge

In April, the Iowa code for theft was amended to include rental equipment. Now, a renter can face a theft charge if he or she rents equipment with the intent to deprive or if the renter does not return the equipment by the agreed upon time. It is imperative to read a rental agreement and make sure you know when you must return the equipment to avoid a theft charge. 

The consequences for theft are severe. You may face prison time and restitution if convicted of theft, but it will depend on what type of charges you face. The degree of theft that a person can be charged with depends on the value of the item: 

  • Theft of property amounting to $10,000 or more is a Class C felony
  • Theft of property with a value of $1,000 to $10,000 is a Class D felony
  • Theft of property valued at $1,000 or less is generally charged as a misdemeanor 

Is it robbery, burglary or theft?

People often use burglary, robbery and theft all in the same context, but in the legal world, robbery and burglary are two separate crimes. Theft is a crime which occurs when a person takes property from another person without authorization or consent with the intent to deprive the owner of the use of the property. Robbery also involves taking another person's property, but the theft occurs by use of physical force or fear. Crimes of robbery are generally more serious than theft. 

In the Iowa statutes, burglary is when a person enters an occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime without the right to be in the structure. Although burglary and theft often go hand-in-hand, burglary does not require a theft. The crime committed could be kidnapping or a sexual assault. It is the method of entry that must be unlawful for a charge of burglary. If a person unlawfully enters a structure without the intent to commit a crime, the charge could be trespassing. 

The dangers of social media in the domestic relations arena

One of the first things I do when a person hires me to represent them in a domestic relations case is check out thier Facebook page as well as their spouse and as the case moves along, any other witnesses who appear significant either for myself or for the opposing party. It never fails to amaze me the types of pictures and comments people will make on Facebook and other soical media sites which can later hurt them when they are applying for a job or possibly trying to obtain custody or visitation rights with their children. Facebook and other social media sites are a great place to share things but are also fairly public. I remind my clients that even if they have their privacy settings turned up to the max, there is nothing to prevent the opposing attorney from subpoenaing their Facebook page, as well as other social media sites, and all of the posts that have been made to thier page.

Terminating child support

May is an exciting time for many families with high school graduations, acceptance letters from colleges and, for many non-custodial parents, the ending of child support obligations. Many non-custodial parents are unaware of the fact that legal action is required to actually stop the process whereby child support payments are withheld from their wages. Often times they don't realize this is the case until one or more payments has been withheld from their checks which should not have been taken out. Getting money back from an ex-spouse once they receive it can be difficult; it's important to make sure that you stop child support in a timely fashion.

Social media posts can be used to prosecute defendants

The Atlantic reports that police and prosecutors are increasingly using social media to track criminals. Using Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, police can find networks of drug traffickers or gangs. Some users have gone as far as to livestream their escapades, allowing police to have a clear picture of the crime. When it comes to driving while intoxicated, law enforcement might use social media to prove their case. 

Most people do not actually post a picture or status update that declares their intention to operate a vehicle under the influence. Instead, they might post pictures of themselves while they're at a party. Police can use this information to establish a timeline and show that someone was drinking heavily before an arrest. A social media post could even show that a person knew they were drunk before they got behind the wheel.

Do I need an Attorney If I'm Innocent?

Many defendants believe they can save money by representing themselves in criminal matters, especially when they know they did not commit the crime with which they've been charged. However, while it is possible to represent yourself, you will find that, often, the assistance, guidance, and experience offered by an attorney is crucial to your defense, even if you're innocent.

Preparing to Meet a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, you are under a lot of stress. The last thing you want to do is hinder your defense team by being unprepared for your initial consultation- this only results in a waste of precious time. By preparing yourself to meet with an attorney, you can improve your experience in the criminal court system.

Child Custody and Visitation 101

Many of the cases we deal with involve questions regarding custodial issues surrounding children. These issues generally include where and who the children will live with and, if they are going to live primarily with one parent, what access the other parent will have to the children.