The Cedar Rapids Gazette published this story on the continued use of K2 and other synthetic substances.
We have continued to see use in Johnson County, but mainly with people under probation. I have not yet seen a new possession charged filed for these substances, even though mere possession is illegal and carries a GREATER penalty than possession of marijuana.
For the last many years, Johnson County District Associate Court has held its pretrial conferences at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesdays. Trials always began on Monday mornings, and the Friday before the trial was reserved for final pretrial conferences.
For 2012, there will be a few changes. Pretrial conferences have been moved to occur normally on Mondays at 9:00 a.m. (Exception: 1/19/12). Trials will now occur on Tuesdays, with the final pretrial conference occurring on the Friday before trial.
This will be a nice change, as the attorneys will now have an extra weekday to prepare for trial, following the final pretrial conference.
Finally, it seems that probation revocation hearings will be switched from Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. to Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m.
[Edit 9/4/12 - All alcohol diversion programs are cancelled.]
There are currently four criminal diversion programs available in Johnson County, Iowa.
Prior to July 2010, there were no diversion programs available. As of today, there are now programs for PAULA, Public Intoxication, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
The Possession of Marijuana diversion program is the oldest and most well-established. The requirements for acceptance and completion of this program are available elsewhere on our website.
The PAULA and Public Intoxication programs are publicized on the Johnson County Attorney’s website.
The first requirement for these programs is the charge must have been filed by the State. Many PAULA charges are filed directly by the City of Iowa City. The City has no diversion programs. Therefore, if the Iowa City Police Department (as opposed to the University of Iowa Public Safety Department or Johnson County Sheriff) wrote your PAULA ticket, you are probably not going to be eligible for diversion.
The State has published the following criteria for acceptance into the PAULA and Public Intoxication diversion programs:
No accompanying charges with the Public Intoxication/PAULA charge other than offenses under Iowa Code § 321.
No drug or alcohol-related simple misdemeanor convictions in the past six years and no Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) convictions in the past 12 years.
No serious or aggravated misdemeanor convictions (ex. possession of a controlled substance) in the past six years.
No felony convictions.
No deferred judgments in the past six years.
Participation is at the discretion of the Johnson County Attorney.
If these requirements are met, the defendant stands a good chance of being accepted.
The final, and least-known program, is the Possession of Drug Paraphernalia program. It is a hybrid of the two programs listed above, with the same requirements as the Marijuana diversion program, but the procedure of the alcohol programs.
Before you plead guilty to any of the above offenses, be sure to check with our office to see if you would be eligible for any of these programs. We are happy to assist you by calling (319) 354-1630.
From my caseload alone, I have seen a large increase in the amount of Fake ID cases in the Iowa City area, as compared to prior years. I am sure this is due to the ease at which students can now obtain completely fake ID’s from Internet sources.
This prompts me to publish another review of the “fake ID” laws in Iowa.
“Fake ID” charges in Iowa can come in a few different forms. The most prominent form of this crime is the one I refer to above, which is “possession of a fictitious ID.” This is a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,875.00.
Before this summer, it was common for me to reach a plea agreement with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office where we would exchange a plea of guilty for a recommendation for a deferred judgment. However, this has recently changed.
As of the date of writing of this blog, the County Attorney has changed her stance on this charge and will no longer be recommending deferred judgments. This, I assume, is in response to the massive increase of this type of charge.
Now, the case must be pled with an “open plea” which sets the case for sentencing before a judge. To obtain a deferred judgment, the defense counsel must convince the judge why the defendant deserves the deferred judgment instead of a conviction.
This makes the case more difficult to handle, and places a greater burden on the defendant and defense counsel.
The other potential ID crime is Misuse of ID/DL, which technically is not a “fake ID” crime. It is a real ID crime, that is committed when a defendant uses a real ID that is not their own. This is a much lighter level of crime, only being a simple misdemeanor with a set fine and no chance for jail time. Also with this simple misdemeanor charge, mere possession is not enough. The state would have to prove that this real ID was mis-used.
The Misuse of ID/DL crime does not have the option for a deferred judgment, however.
If you have questions regarding a recent Fake ID charge in Iowa City, please contact my office.read more
We have moved our office to 250 E. Court St., Iowa City, Iowa. Map here.
This location will be more convenient to the student population, and for anyone that is going to court. We are located about 2 blocks to the east of the Johnson County Courthouse, in the new Telluride building, near the corner of S. Linn St. and of course E. Court St.
We hope this new location will allow us to serve you better.read more
The following is a message from the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy.
The short version of the new law is summarized in my title. K2/Spice (synthetic marijuana) is no longer legal to possess or sell in Iowa. Until now, this could be found at various head shops, over-the-counter, in Iowa City. Now, please be advised that carrying these substances carries a higher penalty than carrying actual marijuana.
Please see the Governor’s message below:
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad today signed into law legislation (SF 510) that outlaws newer and potentially dangerous drugs. The new law classifies synthetic designer drugs known as synthetic cannabinoids and so called “bath salts” as Schedule One Controlled Substances in the State of Iowa. The new designation means these products have no medicinal value and are illegal to sell, manufacture, or possess. The new law also applies to the organic drug Salvia divinorum.
The penalty for the manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to deliver any of these substances is an aggravated misdemeanor. The penalty for possession of these substances is a serious misdemeanor.
Synthetic cannabinoids—such as K2—can cause vomiting, elevated blood pressure, seizures, anxiety, intense hallucinations and panic attacks. So-called “bath salts”—such as MDPV—can cause rapid heartbeats, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia, depression and violence. Salvia divinorum can cause dizziness, impairment, hallucinations, depression and schizophrenia.
Criminal penalties for violation of the synthetic cannabinoids such as K-2, Spice are effective immediately.
Legislative language seems to suggest that criminal penalties for bath salts and salvia will take effect thirty days from today, giving retail sellers time to transfer the newly banned products to the Iowa Department of Public Safety for destruction. Others have interpreted this legislation to make criminal penalties for bath salts and salvia effective sixty-days after enactment. Please see an analysis by Assistant Iowa Attorney General Pete Grady for further information on the effective for bath salts and Saliva.
Iowa’s new law banning all three substances and the analysis by assistant Attorney General Grady are available at the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) website.
In Johnson County case number AGCR091853, we won a jury verdict on Monday, 6/20/11.
The case was the rare assault case that we took on. Generally we keep our cases to drug/alcohol related matters, but this was a case where the defendant was truly not guilty of the crime as alleged.
The case was originally filed as an Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, but at the time of trial it had already been reduced to regular Assault.
The defendant had been in an argument with his roommates and had gotten tackled by one of them. The defendant went inside, locked the house, grabbed a bat and called 911.
When the police arrived, they saw the defendant with the bat, and after some questioning decided he was the agitator and placed him under arrest.
At trial we pointed out to the jury how the defendant’s story was the only plausible one, and how the other roommates’ actions were not indicative of persons that had been assaulted. And of course it helped when they all admitted that the defendant never hit anybody or even swung the bat except when he was inside the house, alone. A key point was a quick cross examination of the arresting officer, who had believed that the defendant had indeed swung the bat at the roommates while he was outside of the house.
The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and the defendant was acquitted of all charges.read more
Our criminal practice is generally limited to the counties surrounding Iowa City, but with expungment cases we have streamlined the approach to such that we may file in any Iowa county for the same low flat rate.
The process for expunging these charges is simple. Give us a call and we will electronically pull and review your files while you are on the phone. If we determine you have met the criteria for expungment, we can take the case and send the documents off for filing immediately.
Each county has its own system. Locally, in Johnson County, the process has been taking around 3-4 weeks.
Usually no court hearings are set, and there is no need for the Defendant to do anything more than call us to start the cases. We handle the rest of the matter.
If you have a PAULA or Pubilc Intoxication conviction that you would like to have expunged, please give us a call and we can determine your eligibility. Then we can get started on your case right away.read more
With 2011 graduation right around the corner, the Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote an article about the consequences of a criminal history when looking for a job.read more
Here is a recent article in Iowa City’s newspaper about local criminal history searches: