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Criminal Cases

What are the charges against me?

Your charges are on the complaint that a law enforcement officer gave you. For public charges, you may also find your charges by searching Iowa Courts Online on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: https://www.iowacourts.state.ia.us/ESAWebApp//SelectFrame. On the right side of the page, under “Trial Court,” click on “Case Search.”

If you have additional questions, you should contact an attorney.

How do I get an attorney?

You have the right to hire your own attorney. If you are involved in a criminal case and you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may apply for a court-appointed attorney. The clerk of court can provide the appropriate form. The judge will then consider the request and, based on criteria established by the state legislature, determine whether you are eligible for a court-appointed attorney. However, the judge may order you to repay the State of Iowa for those attorney fees at the end of your case.

Will I have to reimburse the state for court-appointed attorney fees?

You may need to repay the State of Iowa for court-appointed attorney fees based on your financial situation. The court could require you to reimburse these costs in the court’s order that determines the outcome of your case.

Why can’t I have a court-appointed attorney?

The state legislature has established financial criteria for determining when a person qualifies for a court-appointed attorney in criminal cases. See Iowa Code section 815.9. A judge determines whether a defendant qualifies for a court-appointed attorney based on the financial criteria and defendant’s financial resources.

How do I plead guilty?

For simple misdemeanor cases, which have “SM” in the case number, some clerk of court offices provide forms for guilty pleas. You can submit the form, if available, or tell the judge you want to plead guilty when you make your first court appearance.

For more serious offenses, which have “SR,” “AG,” “OW,” or “FE” in the case number, contact an attorney or speak to the prosecutor.

What is the 15% surcharge for in my criminal case?

The Iowa Legislature, in section 911.1 of the Iowa Code, requires the court to add a 15% crime services surcharge to fines imposed in all criminal cases, but not on parking violations under city or county ordinances. The crime services surcharge funds a wide variety of services across the state.

How do I appeal?

In simple misdemeanor cases, which have “SM” in the case number, you may appeal by telling the magistrate at the time judgment is entered that you are appealing. Or you can deliver a written notice to the clerk of court not later than 10 days after the judgment is entered. For more information on appeals in criminal cases, see Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.73(1) by clicking on the link below, then scroll down to Chapter 2 – Rules of Criminal Procedure: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/courtRules/courtRulesListings.

In more serious criminal cases, which have “SR,” “AG,” “OW” or “FE” in the case number, you need to file a written notice of appeal with the clerk of court where the judgment was entered. For more information, see Iowa Rules of Appellate Procedure 6.101(1), 6.101(2), and 6.101(3) by
Answers to FAQs about Iowa Court Cases, Procedures, and Policies (8.30.21) Page 14 of 68
clicking on the link below, then scroll down to Chapter 6 – Rules of Appellate Procedure:
https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/courtRules/courtRulesListings.

How do I get unsupervised probation?

You should contact an attorney or the county attorney’s office to discuss terms of your probation. You may also ask the judge at sentencing to give you unsupervised probation.

How do I get someone out of jail (out on bond)?

If a cash bond (or bail) has been set, you may pay the amount in full at the clerk of court office or at the jail, depending on the county. Checks are not acceptable for bond. If the judge ordered that a surety bond may be posted, you may use a bonding company. You would enter into an agreement with the bonding company, which would post a bond for a fee. If the judge ordered that 10% may be posted, you may pay 10% of the bond amount to the clerk of court office or to the jail, depending on the county. If you post bond for someone else, this is public information, and you will be listed as a payor on the other person’s case.

When will I get my bond money back?

Cash bonds are only released upon order of a judge or dismissal of the charges. The bond can only be returned to the person who posted the bond. Regardless of who posted the bond, the bond may be held by the clerk of court to be applied to any amount the person who posted the bond owes to the State of Iowa. If you want the money released before the case is finished, there is a process to revoke a bond, which includes a written request to the court in order for a hearing to be set. At the hearing the judge will decide if the defendant should be placed back in jail so that your money can be returned to you. You should keep the clerk of court office updated if your address or contact information changes.

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