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West Des Moines Iowa Criminal Defense Law Blog

Gun possession leads to 15-year prison sentence for Iowa man

A 48-year-old man from Rockford has learned that not following proper firearm safety protocols can have severe consequences. The man was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison on Feb. 12 on drug trafficking and firearms charges, but police only became aware of his alleged activities because of an injury he suffered while cleaning one of his guns. The Rockford resident was sentenced after entering into a negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors.

Reports indicate that the man arrived at a hospital emergency room with a gunshot wound. The man is said to have told doctors that he accidentally shot himself in the foot while cleaning an AR-15 rifle. Medical facilities are required to report gunshot wounds to the police, and law enforcement soon discovered that the man was a convicted felon and could not legally own firearms.

Car accidents rise on annual cannabis holiday

Drivers in Iowa may be concerned about the dangers posed on the roadways by drunk and distracted drivers. While the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol are well-known, there are also dangers to using other kinds of drugs before getting behind the wheel. One study indicates that April 20, a self-declared holiday for marijuana users, is linked with a slight jump in fatal car crashes across the United States.

The study looked at 25 years of car accident data, specifically measuring the number of fatal crashes that took place on April 20. There is no indication as to the involvement of cannabis or driving under the influence in any of the crashes. However, it is known that driving while under the influence of marijuana can impair one's reaction time and ability to make fast emergency decisions. Nevertheless, many cannabis users do drive after using the substance. The study compared the number of driver deaths on April 20 with those one week before and one week after from the years 1992 through 2016.

Man facing array drug charges in different courts

A parolee arrested in Iowa is facing a series of drug charges, including distribution of heroin, possession of marijuana and possession of hydrocodone. While he was arrested by police in Bettendorf in October 2017, he also has criminal cases pending on drug charges in Muscatine and Rock Island counties.

In addition, the man is on parole from a prior conviction in Illinois. He is charged in Scott County with a count of possession with intent to deliver heroin of not more than 100 grams; this felony charge could lead to 10 years in prison. He is also charged with a Class D felony, failure to affix the Iowa drug tax stamp. He is also charged with serious misdemeanors, including unlawful possession of hydrocodone and possession of marijuana.

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause in DUI stops

When an officer pulls over a driver, he or she must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing a crime. If the officer violates this standard, the traffic stop may not hold up in court, even if the stop resulted in criminal charges, like a DUI. Similarly, in order to justify arresting a driver, an officer must assess enough evidence to reasonably claim the driver committed a crime.

If you recently received a DUI charge and believe that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, you should carefully consider all of your legal options and begin building a staunch defense as soon as possible. The sooner you begin building your defense, the longer you have to assess the prosecution's case and identify any weaknesses in the evidence against you. That could include challenging whether the officer should have stopped you in the first place.

Five face methamphetamine-related drug charges

Five people are facing drug charges in Iowa related to the distribution of methamphetamine. Three of the men are from Iowa, and one is from Missouri.

On Nov. 30, investigators stopped one of the men when he was allegedly on his way to make a sale. At that time, officers found 2 pounds of methamphetamine in the 34-year-old man's car. Later that same day, officers had arranged for a monitored purchase of more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine in Marshalltown.

2 men facing marijuana-related charges

Two men were taken into custody in Iowa on drug-related charges on Jan. 19. Initially, police attempted a traffic stop after receiving a report about reckless driving on Interstate 80. Police located the minivan, but the 20-year-old driver would not stop.

The police pursued the minivan, and it crashed into another vehicle at the Interstate 380 on-ramp. According to police, both the driver and his passenger, a 22-year-old man, then ran away. Police allegedly found the driver hiding in an industrial park. They also say they found the passenger hiding under shrubbery near a parked car. Reportedly, the man was covered in mud but said he had not been in the van.

Report encourages changes to drunk driving laws

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggested lowering the legal blood alcohol content in the United States. If its recommendation was adopted, Iowa residents would need to keep their BAC under .05 percent if they wish to operate a motor vehicle. For women this would limit their intake to two drinks prior to driving while men would be limited to two or three drinks.

The .05 percent threshold has been passed into law in Utah, but the new legal limit won't go into effect until Dec. 30. How many drinks it would take to reach the .05 percent limit depends on many variables. For instance, a man weighing 160 pounds could consume two drinks while a man weighing 180 pounds would be able to consume three drinks. A person's blood alcohol content may also be influenced by whether or not he or she has eaten prior to drinking.

Jackass actor charged with drunk driving

Iowa residents may have loved the crazy stunts and hijinks of Bam Margera on the MTV show "Jackass" in the early 2000s, but police didn't think much of his driving when they arrested the performer on suspicion of drunk driving in early January. In 2011, his longtime friend and fellow member of the cast Ryan Dunn was killed in a drunk driving accident.

Authorities stated that California Highway Patrol officers had pulled over another motorist when Margera drove past them while using a cell phone. They proceeded to follow him and pulled him over. Officers reported smelling alcohol inside the car and performed a field sobriety and breath test and Breathalyzer exam on the actor before taking him into custody on a charge of drunk driving.

Iowa man sentenced to prison for meth possession

An Iowa man has been sentenced to up to five years and two days after pleading guilty to methamphetamine possession. The charge arose out of a traffic stop in October.

The 54-year-old defendant, who is a resident of Garner, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of third-offense felony possession of methamphetamine and first-offense misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Prosecutors agreed to drop charges of third-offense marijuana possession and driving while barred.

You may sometimes challenge breathalyzer results

Fighting a DUI involving breathalyzer results is never easy, but it is not impossible. Just like any measurement device, a breathalyzer has weaknesses and a general margin of error, so it is usually possible to build some sort of legal defense against such charges.

Unfortunately, challenging this kind of evidence requires patience and creativity, and many people who face DUI charges want a silver bullet that will get them off the hook. While it is possible to challenge the validity of breathalyzer results, it is never automatic, and may require significant preparation and risk-taking.

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