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Des Moines Iowa Law Blog

New BAC Levels Proposed

Across America, a blood-alcohol level of .08 is the legal limit to drink and drive. In the news lately, the National Transportation Safety Board wants to lower that number to .05 - depending on your size that could be as few as one or two beers in one hour.

Hearsay - What Is It Really? | hearsay

Before I went to law school, I used to think that hearsay meant the same thing as rumors. You know when people say something like "don't listen that talk, that's just a bunch of hearsay." But, as I soon learned in school, hearsay is one of the more complicated and confusing (even to attorneys) issues in the world of litigation.

For anyone wanting to see the Iowa Rules on hearsay for themselves (or needing to cure their insomnia) they can find the Rules on hearsay here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/CourtRulesChapter/01-31-2017.5.pdf but be warned, this is just scratching the surface. The case law on hearsay is long and varied. Keep in mind though that the purpose of this blog post is to try and explain hearsay for the everyday person, and not the practicing lawyer.

By definition, hearsay is any out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The "statement" can be oral, written, or even non-verbal conduct (in some situations). So, three quick examples of hearsay would be: (oral) a witness testifies that he overheard the defendant talking about the drug deal he just made; (written) a contractor showing various purchase agreements and receipts; (non-verbal conduct) a child therapist testifies to her young client's interactions with a therapy doll. True enough, all three are hearsay, but all three may still be admissible under one of the 30-plus hearsay exceptions that Iowa recognizes (but I'll save that for another post).

"Offered to prove the matter asserted" is not as complicated as it sounds. It refers to the assertion being made in the alleged hearsay statement. So, if you want to show the effect that the statement had on the listener, and that effect is relevant to the case, than it may not be hearsay at all. For instance, if there is a slip and fall at a convenience and a witness overheard two employees talking a few minutes earlier about a coffee spill, that conversation may not be hearsay at all. It can be offered not to prove that there was coffee, but to prove that the employees were on notice that there was coffee.

OWI/DUI in Iowa - What Do You Do? | OWI/DUI

Posted on April 5, 2017 | Authored by Marshall W. Orsini, Attorney at Law

It is a situation that plays out hundreds of times every night across this country - you are out to dinner and have a couple of drinks. On your drive home, you see a police car behind you. The fear of an OWI/DUI immediately races across your mind. "How much did I drink?" "They were stretched out long enough, right?" "No way I'm over .08!" And before you know it, the police cruiser's lights are on, and you're pulled over.

You might not even have been driving erratically. The officer probably pulled you over for some other reason - a taillight is out or you rolled through that stop sign. The officer's not even thinking OWI/DUI as he first approaches your car. He enters into a casual conversation with you and appears friendly. You let your guard down, and before you know it, the signs of alcohol consumption start to betray you. You fumble through your glove compartment and drop your paperwork. Your speech begins to slur a little. And, of course, an officer's favorite in every OWI/DUI stop: the distinct smell of alcohol is pouring out of your car.

Before your stop even becomes an OWI/DUI case, there are certain things that you can do to put yourself in as good a position as possible in defending this. Operating While Intoxicated (some states refer to it as Driving Under the Influence) is a crime with serious financial consequences and a social stigma that can be difficult to imagine.

#1: Don't Drink and Drive. First and foremost, don't put yourself in the position to begin with. Calling a cab or Uber is the safest and cheapest route to go when compared to the costs of fighting an OWI/DUI. Between attorney fees, court costs, fines, and restitution, an OWI/DUI could likely cost you $5,000 to $10,000. My philosophy is that the least interaction a person can have with police officers in their life, the better off they are.

Determining Child Support | child support

Determining child support is an unavoidable part of the divorce and custody process in Iowa. For clients, child support can be a concern and a cause of stress. How child support is determined, however, is not a mystery.

At it's simplest, child support is calculated using the parties' income, but it also takes into account other things, such as day care expenses and insurance premiums. The actual amount of your child support is most directly affected by the visitation schedule (for example, a parent with shared physical care will pay a much lower child support amount then if he does not have shared care).

Unlike many other custody issues, child support boils down to math, based on the amount of income each party makes. And that is where the true fight often lies - proving what the party's real income is. It is not always as simple as checking tax records or pay stubs.

The forms you need to file in a child support matter are often overwhelming to go it alone. And if you ignore the paperwork that you have received, you will more than likely be ordered to pay child support based upon the income that the opposing attorney has stated that you earn. If the other party is represented by an attorney, you should consider getting legal advice from a local attorney, such as one of the great family law attorneys at Carr & Wright.

Expunge Your Criminal Record | expunge

So, you want to expunge your criminal record?

In the past, you could only have your Iowa adult criminal charge expunged if it was for some alcohol-related convictions (of course not including OWIs), or if your case was resolved via a deferred judgment. But now, thanks to a law passed last year, you can have your criminal record expunged for any crime...sort of.

Iowa Code Section 901C.1 now allows people to apply for the expungement of dismissed or acquitted charges. If you were charged with a crime, and it was later dismissed or if you were found "not guilty", you can finally expunge it from your record! This may not go as far as some people want, but it is still a very good thing. Think about it: in the court of public opinion, just being charged with a crime can have very negative implications.

Currently, criminal records show just about every charge that has ever been filed against a person, whether or not that charge actually led to a conviction. Although it may also show "dismissed" or "not guilty," the person seeing that record can't help but wonder what it was that happened. Do you want potential employers seeing that you were charged with a theft some years ago? Or your girlfriend to see that you were charged with possession of a controlled substance? Do you think they will care that the charge was dismissed without a conviction?
There are, of course, certain requirements that have to be met in order to expunge your criminal record, and the process may be too complicated to tackle alone. If you want to expunge your criminal record, or have need to speak to a criminal defense attorney for any reason, please contact the law office of Carr & Wright and ask to speak to one of our fine attorneys. We will be happy to schedule a free consultation.

Overview of the Divorce Process in Iowa | divorce

The purpose of this article is to explain the basics of the divorce process in Iowa. Of course, if you ever have any questions about divorce, child custody and support, or other family law issues, please call Carr & Wright and ask to speak to one of our attorneys. Divorce (or "dissolution of marriage") is a very serious matter with long reaching legal implications. That is why we recommend speaking to an experienced family law attorney, such as one of the fine attorneys in our office.

The first step is the actual filing for divorce, and the person filing the petition for divorce will forever be referred to as the "Petitioner". His/her spouse will become the "Respondent." Getting the petition right is crucial, because in the Petition you ask the court to grant you certain things in the divorce - such as custody, child support, property division, and alimony, as well as asking the other party to share in the court costs and attorney fees. You must also show that the Court has jurisdiction to decide those matters. This can be a complicated matter, especially if children are involved, so it is important to bring a lot of information with you when you first meet with your attorney.
One big complaint we often hear is that it takes a long time to finalize a divorce, especially when child custody is being determined. This is true, but one way to get a temporary order is to ask the Court for a hearing on temporary matters. Through this process, you are able to get a court hearing on matters such as custody, support, alimony, etc. much earlier than waiting to settle your divorce or going to trial.

Assuming the Respondent has filed his/her Answer, the case proceeds to sharing information and discovery. Now, the Court requires the parties to exchange some information without Discovery, such as financial information and affidavits, but in most cases, Discovery is essential.

  1. “Bryan always put me and my situation first. He continued to show me all options available throughout the process. He always took the time to explain my options to me and gained my understanding. He was professional at all times and truly cares about his clients. I would recommend him to anyone needing representation. Thank you, Bryan!”

    – Jennifer H.

  2. “I would highly recommend Mr. Carr as he is professional, thorough, patient, and a man to be trusted. I was treated with respect by everyone in the office and was given monthly detailed invoices accounting for all times.”

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  4. “Mr. Carr was very easy to talk to and was very understanding of my situation, I will highly recommend him to anyone who may need his services in the future.”

    – Jason H.

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