Once the case has landed in court, law enforcement officers are mere witnesses. Prosecutors are lawyers educated, trained, and hired to draft criminal pleadings on behalf of the State of Iowa. They work closely with law enforcement, but it's not required that they agree 100% with police all of the time. In any case, the trial information is an indictment that is required to begin the prosecution of an indictable misdemeanor or felony charge in earnest. If you or a loved one is charged with such a crime in Iowa, please contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at 319-389-1889 or www.daclawfirm.com to become an informed legal consumer today.
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A trial information is the equivalent of an “indictment.” We’ve heard of the phrase “indictment” on crime dramas and in the media. It’s the indictment. Sometimes I tell my clients it is the “starting gun” to the prosecution. Put a different way, it is the criminal lawsuit. In civil lawsuits, we know what the plaintiff wants because he spells out the cause of action and puts the defendant on notice. The “trial information” is essentially the equivalent of that, putting the defendant on notice of the criminal charge, specified by one of many statutory prohibitions in the Iowa Criminal Code. Attached is a short synopsis of what, when, and where the Defendant committed the alleged act. This is key—it must happen in the correct venue, or, county, to be tried in that county, unless venue is changed for some reason. Venue comes up rarely but it does sometimes come up.
Attached to the Trial Information is a witness list the State intends to call at the time of trial. Attached to that is a prediction to what those witnesses will likely testify at the time of trial. Here’s an example.
IN THE IOWA DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR NEVERLAND COUNTY
STATE OF IOWA, No. OWCR000000
JOHN Q. PUBLIC,
Comes now, Jane Doe, prosecuting attorney for Neverland County, Iowa, and accuses John Q. Public, of Operating While Intoxicated—First Offense, in violation of Iowa Code Sec. 321J.2, in that on September 17, 2015, he operated a motor vehicle on a highway in Neverland County, Iowa, while intoxicated with alcohol and/or narcotics.
A TRUE INFORMATION
/s/ Jane Doe
Assistant Neverland County Attorney
Neverland County Courthouse
Officer Bill F. Friendly, Neverland Municipal Police Department
Deputy Roger Wilco, Neverland County Sheriff’s Department
Jim Jeeman, Jr., Criminalist, Iowa Bureau of Investigation
MINUTES OF TESTIMONY
Bill Friendly, Neverland Municipal Police Department, will testify that on September 17, 2015, he was on routine patrol in Neverland, which is located in Neverland County, Iowa, and he observed the Defendant operating a motor vehicle. He followed Defendant for a short time on Highway 123, at which time he noticed Defendant veering from side to side, crossing the yellow dotted line into the opposing lane of traffic, but also crossing the fog line near the shoulder and leaving the roadway. He activated emergency top lights, conducted a traffic stop, and approached the motorist, and identified the driver as Defendant herein by driver license, registration, and proof of insurance. Officer Friendly observed the strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech, and an open beer can in the center console. Officer Friendly asked the Defendant to consent to standardized field sobriety tests and Defendant did not perform to standard. Officer Friendly will testify to his training, experience, and certification as a law enforcement officer, the conduct of standardized field sobriety tests, and his observations regarding the outward signs of insobriety. He testify to further facts and circumstances with regard to this case.
Deputy Roger Wilco is a certified peace officer trained and certified in the administration of the Datamaster DMT. He will testify that he was assigned to the OWI processing office in Neverland County on the evening of September 17, 2015, when Officer Friendly of the Neverland Municipal Police Department presented Deputy Wilco with the Defendant subsequent to a traffic stop and invocation of implied consent, and an implied consent advisory. Deputy Wilco will testify that the Defendant consented to provide a Datamaster DMT breath sample and subsequently tested .15 grams per 210 L breath. Deputy Wilco will testify that he then offered to Defendant an independent chemical test, which the Defendant declined. Deputy Wilco will testify that Wilco Mirandized the Defendant, interrogated him using a list of standardized questions, and Defendant provided admissions. Deputy Wilco will testify to further facts and circumstances.
Jim Jeeman, Jr. Criminalist, Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation will testify to the operation, certification, maintenance of Datamaster DMT Serial No. 000000. He will testify that the machine is in good working order and authenticate his signature on a recent certification of the Datamaster DMT Serial No. 000000. He will testify to studies regarding the effects of alcohol on a person’s attitude and further facts and circumstances concerning this case.
As you can see, it’s not rocket science, but the Court must be satisfied that if the witnesses were to testify consistently with their predictive minutes of testimony, the circumstances surrounding same left unanswered, a jury would convict the Defendant, for the case to proceed to trial. The standard is a bit strained, I agree. But that’s essentially how the rule reads. If the Judge believes that the accusation has enough juice to go to trial, it will proceed.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Iowa, please contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at www.daclawfirm.com or 319-389-1889 to become an informed legal consumer today. But remember that reading a blog is not legal advice and sending information to an attorney unsolicited over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client privilege.
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