Criminal Defense in Harlan, Iowa
If you have been arrested or accused of a crime, we will fight to defend your rights and obtain a fair outcome. We defend persons accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses, including assaults, driving while impaired (DUI/OWI), property crimes, drug charges, and other crimes.
Overview of Criminal Procedure
A criminal case starts with an arrest and criminal complaint, and ends with a dismissal, plea agreement, or a trial. The procedure will vary depending on the seriousness of the alleged offense.
- A criminal case generally begins with an arrest, with the police having the option of either taking an accused person to jail, or releasing the person and setting a time for them to appear.
- After an arrest, an accused person will have an initial appearance in front of a judge or magistrate. The judge announces charges and sets a bond. The judge will also inform the person of certain rights that they have, including the right to court appointed counsel for qualified persons.
- A preliminary hearing must occur within 20 days of the arrest. Alternatively, a prosecutor can file a Trial Information document reporting the formal charges before the date of the hearing, in which case a preliminary hearing is not held.
- Formal charges can be filed either through an indictment or by filing the Trial Information. The prosecutor must show that the available evidence could warrant a conviction by a jury.
- The court will schedule an arraignment, through which a Defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. Alternatively, a Defendant can avoid a hearing by filing a Written Arraignment and Plea of Not Guilty.
- Following discovery and review of evidence, a pretrial conference is an opportunity for the parties to negotiate a plea agreement. During the pretrial period, the Defendant can file motions regarding certain aspects of the case, such as exclusion of evidence.
- If the parties are unable to reach a plea agreement, the case will ultimately go to trial.
As your attorney, we will defend your rights and seek a just outcome.