In the recent case of State of Iowa vs. Mitchell Khan, the Iowa Court of Appeals engaged in a very helpful nuanced analysis of the speedy indictment rules. The Court agreed that the State had violated Khan’s right to a speedy indictment, and his motion to dismiss pursuant to Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.33(2)(a) should have been granted. That rule requires the State to file a trial information within 45 days of the date of a defendant’s arrest. The issue was when the 45 days started. Khan was pulled over on November 22, 2019, handcuffed, transported to jail, told he was under arrest, accused in a complaint and affidavit of OWI, and then released after posting bond.

Khan argued that the 45 days began when he was taken into custody and arrested. The State argued it did not begin to run until his initial appearance before a magistrate, or the date he waived that appearance. The Iowa Court of Appeals agreed with Khan.

In State v. Williams, 895 N.W. 2d 856 (Iowa 2017), the Iowa Supreme Court provided guidance on two questions: (1) In what cases does the speedy indictment rule apply? and (2) If the rule applies, when does its 45-day period begin?

When the first question is in dispute, Williams requires courts to consider whether a defendant was brought before a magistrate or waived the appearance. Yet, there was no dispute that the rule applied in this case. Hence, the only remaining question was from what event did the 45 days run.

The time for bringing the indictment runs from the initial arrest. The rule commences upon arrest and is triggered from the time a person is taken into custody. A brief investigative detention or similar seizure is not sufficient alone. The arrest requires the person be taken into custody in the manner authorized by law. Therefore, the arrest must meet the requirements of Iowa Code sections 804.5 and 804.14(1). Those provisions require the person making the arrest to inform the person being arrested of the intention to arrest, the reason for the arrest, the identity of the person making the arrest as a peace officer, and the requirement of the person to submit to custody.

Applying those standards, Khan was arrested on November 22, and the 45-day period began on that date.

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The U.S. Supreme Court rules that not all hot pursuits allow law enforcement to enter a home without a warrant. Under the Fourth Amendment, pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect does not always—that is, categorically—justify a warrantless entry into a home. There must be a case-by-case assessment of exigency when deciding whether a suspected misdemeanant’s flight justifies a warrantless home entry. The Court has found that such exigencies may exist when an officer must act to prevent imminent injury, the destruction of evidence, or a suspect’s escape.

“The flight of a suspected misdemeanant does not always justify a warrantless entry into a home. An officer must consider all the circumstances in a pursuit case to determine whether there is a law enforcement emergency. On many occasions, the officer will have good reason to enter—to prevent imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, or escape from the home. But when the officer has time to get a warrant, he must do so—even though the misdemeanant fled.”

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The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the 1st amendment protects a student’s off-campus vulgar speech criticizing a school, and it may not discipline her.

Public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, but that special interest and power is limited. Previously, in Tinker, the Court indicated that schools have a special interest in regulating on-campus student speech that “materially disrupts class-work or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.” The special characteristics that give schools additional license to regulate student speech do not always disappear when that speech takes place off campus. Circumstances that may implicate a school’s regulatory interests include serious or severe bullying or harassment targeting particular individuals; threats aimed at teachers or other students; the failure to follow rules concerning lessons, the writing of papers, the use of computers, or participation in other online school activities; and breaches of school security devices.

However, courts must be more skeptical of a school’s efforts to regulate off-campus speech, for doing so may mean the student cannot engage in that kind of speech at all. Further, the school itself has an interest in protecting a student’s unpopular expression, especially when the expression takes place off campus, because America’s public schools are the nurseries of democracy. Taken together, several features of off-campus speech mean that the leeway the First Amendment grants to schools in light of their special characteristics is diminished.

The school violated B. L.’s First Amendment rights when it suspended her from the junior varsity cheerleading squad. B. L.’s posts are entitled to First Amendment protection. The statements made in B. L.’s Snapchats reflect criticism of the rules of a community of which B. L. forms a part. And B. L.’s message did not involve features that would place it outside the First Amendment’s ordinary protection.

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The Iowa Supreme Court has held that trash rips, when the police go through your trash to find evidence, are now unconstitutional under the Iowa Constitution.

Read the cases:

State v. Wright

State v. Hahn


Iowa Supreme Court holds that Iowa Code section 804.20, although allowing a phone call to an attorney, does not require that phone call be private or confidential, for the call can be observed and in the presence of the officer.

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U.S. Supreme Court holds that it is unconstitutional for law enforcement to enter a home to search for a gun for a “community caretaking” function except in very limited circumstances. The “community caretaking” exception to the warrant requirement does not extend to the search of a house and seizure of firearms during a welfare check.

Decades ago, the Court held that a warrantless search of an impounded vehicle for an unsecured firearm did not violate the Fourth Amendment. However, the community caretaking function is not a standalone doctrine that justifies warrantless searches and seizures in a home.

“True, Cady also involved a warrantless search for a firearm. But the location of that search was an impounded vehicle—not a home— ‘a constitutional difference’ that the opinion repeatedly stressed. … In fact, Cady expressly contrasted its treatment of a vehicle already under police control with a search of a car ‘parked adjacent to the dwelling place of the owner.’” Further, the “recognition that police officers perform many civic tasks in modern society was just that—a recognition that these tasks exist, and not an open-ended license to perform them anywhere.”

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Iowa Supreme Court rules that when a plea agreement contains a term that requires a Defendant to attend required court hearings, and the Defendant absconds, necessitating a warrant, and then is captured, the prosecution no longer has to follow the plea agreement as a result of the Defendant’s breach.

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Iowa Supreme Court confirms that the word “conviction” is a term of art depending on its context. In the context of an administrative Iowa Department of Transportation setting, which is designed not for criminal punishment but protection of the public, the term “conviction” is viewed more broadly, and can include deferred judgments. Hence, someone with a deferred judgment for OWI or eluding in the criminal context still can be treated just the same as those with a completed conviction, and the IDOT enhancements/revocations/suspensions/barments are fully applicable.

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Iowa Court of Appeals reverses sentence of Ricardo Rodriguez and remands for resentencing. In order to qualify for a sentencing enhancement by utilizing prior offenses, those prior offenses must qualify as enhanceable offenses. In order to qualify as prior enhanceable offenses, “Each offense must be complete as to a conviction and sentencing before commission of the next in order to qualify for the enhancement of penalty.” In other words, “a defendant must be convicted of and sentenced on the first offense before committing the second offense for both to count toward the enhancement.”

In this case, Rodriguez had two prior drug convictions at the time he was found to be in possession of drugs a third time, but judgment was entered in both of those prior cases on the same date, not chronologically. Hence, the priors had to be considered as one prior, not two, and the case was remanded for resentencing.

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Be Careful How You Park

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional for law enforcement/police to seize drivers for parking violations.

These are the questions the court answered:


Is it unconstitutional for an officer to enforce a parking violation after he observes a driver illegally park her vehicle, leaving the vehicle sticking out of the driveway and into the road?


If the officer smells marijuana and observes signs of the driver’s intoxication when he stops the driver to enforce the parking violation, is it unconstitutional for the officer to inquire about the driver’s intoxication when the officer could have enforced the parking violation by placing a citation on the driver’s window instead of stopping her?


If the officer asks the defendant for her license while he’s enforcing the parking violation and discovers the driver’s license is revoked, is it unconstitutional to extend his stop to enforce that violation?


Is there any legally meaningful distinction between a parking and a moving violation for Terry stop purposes?

No, not under the circumstances of the particular case – in which a vehicle parked illegally with part of the car on a driveway and part sticking out into the road.


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Iowa Supreme Court rules that it is constitutional to stop a driver for potential improper use of a cell phone when an officer observes the driver holding the cell phone in front of his face manipulating the screen with his finger for ten seconds.

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In the trial of a case of alleged wanton neglect of a resident of a heath care facility in violation of Iowa Code section 726.7, the Iowa Supreme Court has held that it is reversible error to introduce evidence regarding the standard of care in the nursing profession and to provide the jury with instructions related to that standard of care, for such created an unfair danger of prejudice and confusion regarding the proper legal standard, for the standard of accountability in the professional standard is not the same as the criminal standard of knowingly acting in a manner likely to be injurious to a resident.

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