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Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Where is the Polk County Courthouse Located?

Historic Polk County Courthouse (civil):
500 Mulberry Street, Des Moines, Iowa

Polk County Criminal Courts:
110 Sixth Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa

Polk County Justice Center (juvenile, traffic):
222 Fifth Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa

Historic Polk County Courthouse (civil):
500 Mulberry Street, Des Moines, Iowa

Polk County Criminal Courts:
110 Sixth Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa

Polk County Justice Center (juvenile, traffic):
222 Fifth Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa


Is there parking available at the Polk County Courthouse?

Parking is available at your expense at meters on the street or in various parking ramps. The closest parking ramps are: 422 Walnut, 210 2nd Ave., and 4th and Grand. Parking can be difficult. Come to Court early to find a parking spot.

Parking is available at your expense at meters on the street or in various parking ramps. The closest parking ramps are: 422 Walnut, 210 2nd Ave., and 4th and Grand. Parking can be difficult. Come to Court early to find a parking spot.


If I'm the victim or witness to a crime, what do I do?

Call the police department for the jurisdiction where the crime happened. Provide them with truthful information and be ready to testify to the events in court.

Call the police department for the jurisdiction where the crime happened. Provide them with truthful information and be ready to testify to the events in court.


How do I file a complaint against a police officer?

If the complaint is regarding a City of Des Moines police officer, contact the Des Moines Police Department's Inspectional Services Bureau, Office of Internal Affairs at (515) 283-4816. For any other police officer, contact the local police department.

If the complaint is regarding a City of Des Moines police officer, contact the Des Moines Police Department's Inspectional Services Bureau, Office of Internal Affairs at (515) 283-4816. For any other police officer, contact the local police department.


How do I do a criminal history check on someone before I hire them?

Contact the Department of Criminal Investigations at (515) 725-6066.

Contact the Department of Criminal Investigations at (515) 725-6066.


I want to work in the Polk County Attorney's Office. Who do I talk to?

Contact the Polk County Human Resource Department.

Click here for the Human Resources Department.

Contact the Polk County Human Resource Department.

Click here for the Human Resources Department.


I want to file a lawsuit. What should I do?

The county attorney is unable to represent individuals in civil lawsuits. You should contact a private attorney to assist you in this matter. Many private attorneys are listed on the Iowa State Bar Association Find-A-Lawyer website. You may also find representation through Iowa Legal Aid, the Drake Legal Clinic, or the Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer's Project.

The county attorney is unable to represent individuals in civil lawsuits. You should contact a private attorney to assist you in this matter. Many private attorneys are listed on the Iowa State Bar Association Find-A-Lawyer website. You may also find representation through Iowa Legal Aid, the Drake Legal Clinic, or the Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer's Project.


Bad Checks

I own a business and have received a bad check. What can I do?

Contact the County Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program Merchant Hot Line at 1-877 279-0998. If the bad check is in excess of $1,000 call your local police department.

Click here for the Bad Check Restitution Program information.

Contact the County Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program Merchant Hot Line at 1-877 279-0998. If the bad check is in excess of $1,000 call your local police department.

Click here for the Bad Check Restitution Program information.


I am a check writer and have questions about my case. Who can I contact?

Call the Bad Check Program Check Writer Hot Line at 1-866 909-8493.

Click here for the Bad Check Program Check Writer Web Access.

Call the Bad Check Program Check Writer Hot Line at 1-866 909-8493.

Click here for the Bad Check Program Check Writer Web Access.


Criminal Justice Process

When does the Polk County Attorney's office charge a defendant with a crime?

When the police have conducted an investigation and feel that enough evidence exists to show a crime has occurred, that a particular defendant committed the crime, and that there is a reasonable probability of a conviction.

When the police have conducted an investigation and feel that enough evidence exists to show a crime has occurred, that a particular defendant committed the crime, and that there is a reasonable probability of a conviction.


Why are some defendants not in jail after they have been arrested and charged?

They have posted bond or have been released on some type of pre-trial release program.

They have posted bond or have been released on some type of pre-trial release program.


How can I find out when a particular court date is?

Call the Clerk of Court’s office at (515) 286-3765.

Call the Clerk of Court’s office at (515) 286-3765.


What is an initial appearance?

After an arrest, a person charged with a crime must be brought before a judge within 24 hours for an initial appearance. At the initial appearance, the defendant is informed of the right to counsel, and counsel is appointed if the defendant cannot afford counsel and if the charge is serious enough. The judge makes a determination if there is probable cause for the charge. Bond is then set, usually based on a preset bond schedule prepared by the Iowa Supreme Court. The defendant may qualify for a release program that does not require a bond, and the judge may authorize the release at that time. The defendant is then informed of the right to a preliminary hearing.

After an arrest, a person charged with a crime must be brought before a judge within 24 hours for an initial appearance. At the initial appearance, the defendant is informed of the right to counsel, and counsel is appointed if the defendant cannot afford counsel and if the charge is serious enough. The judge makes a determination if there is probable cause for the charge. Bond is then set, usually based on a preset bond schedule prepared by the Iowa Supreme Court. The defendant may qualify for a release program that does not require a bond, and the judge may authorize the release at that time. The defendant is then informed of the right to a preliminary hearing.


What is a preliminary hearing?

At a preliminary hearing, the State must show that the charges are based on probable cause (a reasonable person would believe a crime was committed, and that the defendant committed the crime). The Court must find substantial evidence to support probable cause. Generally, there is just one witness and it is a police officer who testifies to the entire investigation.

A preliminary hearing can be waived, which is when a defendant can give up his or her right to the hearing. It is generally waived at the initial appearance.

If the judge decides probable cause has been established, the case proceeds.

If the judge decides probable cause has not been established, the Court dismisses the case without prejudice. This means the defendant is released and any paid bond is returned. This may occur if a witness fails to appear to testify. The prosecuting attorney may still re-file the case and continue to prosecute.

At a preliminary hearing, the State must show that the charges are based on probable cause (a reasonable person would believe a crime was committed, and that the defendant committed the crime). The Court must find substantial evidence to support probable cause. Generally, there is just one witness and it is a police officer who testifies to the entire investigation.

A preliminary hearing can be waived, which is when a defendant can give up his or her right to the hearing. It is generally waived at the initial appearance.

If the judge decides probable cause has been established, the case proceeds.

If the judge decides probable cause has not been established, the Court dismisses the case without prejudice. This means the defendant is released and any paid bond is returned. This may occur if a witness fails to appear to testify. The prosecuting attorney may still re-file the case and continue to prosecute.


How much time is there between the arrest and the initial appearance?

The initial appearance must be within 24 hours of the arrest.

The initial appearance must be within 24 hours of the arrest.


What is probation?

The defendant is released into the community under the supervision of a Probation Officer for a specific period of time, with many rules to follow, instead of going to prison.

The defendant is released into the community under the supervision of a Probation Officer for a specific period of time, with many rules to follow, instead of going to prison.


Can probation be denied?

Yes. The judge makes the final decision on whether a defendant will get probation. The judge will look at the defendant’s previous criminal history, the Pre-Sentence Investigation report, the seriousness of the crime, and the recommendations by the County Attorney and the defense attorney.

Yes. The judge makes the final decision on whether a defendant will get probation. The judge will look at the defendant’s previous criminal history, the Pre-Sentence Investigation report, the seriousness of the crime, and the recommendations by the County Attorney and the defense attorney.


How can I get information on a case?

If you are the victim of a crime, contact our office with questions about the case. Otherwise, a great tool to use is the Iowa Courts Online website. You can search for a case by name or case number, see the filings on a case, as well as disposition information. For more information, you can contact the clerk of court at (515) 286-3765.

If you are the victim of a crime, contact our office with questions about the case. Otherwise, a great tool to use is the Iowa Courts Online website. You can search for a case by name or case number, see the filings on a case, as well as disposition information. For more information, you can contact the clerk of court at (515) 286-3765.


Defendant Questions

I cannot afford an attorney. How do I get the Court to appoint one?

Contact the Clerk of Court's office at (515) 286-3765. If you are arrested, you may be able to obtain a court-appointed attorney at your initial appearance if certain criteria are met.

Contact the Clerk of Court's office at (515) 286-3765. If you are arrested, you may be able to obtain a court-appointed attorney at your initial appearance if certain criteria are met.


Who do I see about getting my driver's license back or getting a work permit?

Contact your local DOT (Department of Transportation) office.

Contact your local DOT (Department of Transportation) office.


How do I know if there is a warrant out for my arrest?

If you missed your court date for a criminal charge, a warrant may have been issued for your arrest. Normally, notice of this type of warrant gets mailed to your last known address. You can call the Polk County Clerk of Court to check about this type of warrant at (515) 286-3765.

If you think there is a warrant for your arrest because of a new criminal charge, you should contact your local police department to turn yourself in, if such a warrant does exist. Warrants for new charges are, by law, confidential and not disclosed by the Clerk of Court because some people wanted for a crime would flee the jurisdiction.

If you missed your court date for a criminal charge, a warrant may have been issued for your arrest. Normally, notice of this type of warrant gets mailed to your last known address. You can call the Polk County Clerk of Court to check about this type of warrant at (515) 286-3765.

If you think there is a warrant for your arrest because of a new criminal charge, you should contact your local police department to turn yourself in, if such a warrant does exist. Warrants for new charges are, by law, confidential and not disclosed by the Clerk of Court because some people wanted for a crime would flee the jurisdiction.


Forfeitures

My money, gun, car, etc. was seized. How do I get it back?

Go to the Clerk of Court’s office, located in Room 201 of the Polk County Courthouse, and file a Notice of Return for Seized or Forfeited Property.

Go to the Clerk of Court’s office, located in Room 201 of the Polk County Courthouse, and file a Notice of Return for Seized or Forfeited Property.


Fraud

I want to report dependant adult abuse. What do I do?

Contact the attorney for the estate and the probate judge.

Contact the attorney for the estate and the probate judge.


I want to report a financial crime. What do I do?

Contact your local law enforcement authority.

Contact your local law enforcement authority.


Guardianship/Conservatorship

What type of surgeries do I need to get court orders for?

Any elective surgery or non-emergency major medical procedures. Most surgeries performed under general anesthesia require court orders. A guardian is not required to obtain a court order for dental treatment or routine physical examinations when general anesthesia is used.

Any elective surgery or non-emergency major medical procedures. Most surgeries performed under general anesthesia require court orders. A guardian is not required to obtain a court order for dental treatment or routine physical examinations when general anesthesia is used.


Does the person recommended to be the guardian and/or conservator have to be a family member?

No, in many cases the appointees are neighbors, friends, or sometimes volunteers. In some cases family members may choose not to be an appointee, the family member may be unable to serve, or no family members may exist.

No, in many cases the appointees are neighbors, friends, or sometimes volunteers. In some cases family members may choose not to be an appointee, the family member may be unable to serve, or no family members may exist.


Can you have more than one person appointed as guardian and/or conservator?

Yes, there are several variations of appointments possible. One person may serve as guardian and a different person may serve as conservator. They will obviously have to work together as decisions sometimes overlap in areas, but many times this can be very successful.

Another option is Co-guardians or Co-conservators who serve together. There are a few things to consider if this is your choice. Co-appointees have equal authority. If one appointee disagrees, the issue must be set down before a Judge for a ruling. Additionally, paper work may be delayed, as both signatures are always required.

Many people appoint Co-guardians and/or Co-Conservators out of fear that something may happen to them. If that is the case, each appointee needs to determine a person to be successor if something were to happen to the appointee. The successor could then be appointed as Successor Guardian and/or Conservator relatively quickly.

Yes, there are several variations of appointments possible. One person may serve as guardian and a different person may serve as conservator. They will obviously have to work together as decisions sometimes overlap in areas, but many times this can be very successful.

Another option is Co-guardians or Co-conservators who serve together. There are a few things to consider if this is your choice. Co-appointees have equal authority. If one appointee disagrees, the issue must be set down before a Judge for a ruling. Additionally, paper work may be delayed, as both signatures are always required.

Many people appoint Co-guardians and/or Co-Conservators out of fear that something may happen to them. If that is the case, each appointee needs to determine a person to be successor if something were to happen to the appointee. The successor could then be appointed as Successor Guardian and/or Conservator relatively quickly.


Where do I receive the annual reports?

If the Polk County Attorney's Office established the guardianship and/or conservatorship, they will mail a report form to the appointee. You may also contact your local Clerk of Court for forms.

If the Polk County Attorney's Office established the guardianship and/or conservatorship, they will mail a report form to the appointee. You may also contact your local Clerk of Court for forms.


How do I terminate a guardianship and/or conservatorship?

Conservatorships are usually terminated when:

  • there are no resources left, or only social security left, which can be handled by an assigned representative payee, or
  • upon the ward's death

Guardianships are terminated:

  • if created for a minor that reaches the age of 18 and no longer needs one,
  • a ward has impaired abilities at the time of establishment, but now has achieved a higher level of functioning and can do things that they could not do before, or
  • upon the ward's death

Conservatorships are usually terminated when:

  • there are no resources left, or only social security left, which can be handled by an assigned representative payee, or
  • upon the ward's death

Guardianships are terminated:

  • if created for a minor that reaches the age of 18 and no longer needs one,
  • a ward has impaired abilities at the time of establishment, but now has achieved a higher level of functioning and can do things that they could not do before, or
  • upon the ward's death

How do I resign from serving as a guardianship and/or conservatorship?

Once you are appointed you will have to serve until a replacement is available, or until the guardianship is terminated, as stated above. A guardianship and/or conservatorship can be a long term job.

Once you are appointed you will have to serve until a replacement is available, or until the guardianship is terminated, as stated above. A guardianship and/or conservatorship can be a long term job.


If the person does not have a social worker, can the county attorney’s office still set up the guardianship and/or conservatorship?

Todo


Are there training classes for guardians and/or conservators?

The Polk County Attorney's Office does provide information and limited training to groups and organizations. There is also a video that discusses guardianship and conservatorship issues and questions. It is titled "Guardianship/Conservatorship Training Video." The Young Lawyers Division of the Iowa Bar Association helped make the video possible.

The Polk County Attorney's Office does provide information and limited training to groups and organizations. There is also a video that discusses guardianship and conservatorship issues and questions. It is titled "Guardianship/Conservatorship Training Video." The Young Lawyers Division of the Iowa Bar Association helped make the video possible.


Jury Duty

What is the difference between a Trial Jury and a Grand Jury?

We have two kinds of criminal juries: the Trial Jury, the one with which most citizens are familiar; and the Grand Jury, the one with which most citizens are not familiar.

The Trial Jury is the one you see on TV. Twelve people determine whether an alleged criminal is guilty. Jury trials occur in a public courtroom, with a judge present, where attorneys for both sides question the witnesses, and where a conviction can be obtained only when all 12 jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Grand Jury is quite different. It functions only at the beginning of the criminal investigation. Seven citizens (not 12) will have the responsibility of investigating allegations of crimes against the laws of Iowa in Polk County. The investigation usually consists of witnesses testifying before the Grand Jury, with a Prosecutor and Grand Jurors asking questions.

We have two kinds of criminal juries: the Trial Jury, the one with which most citizens are familiar; and the Grand Jury, the one with which most citizens are not familiar.

The Trial Jury is the one you see on TV. Twelve people determine whether an alleged criminal is guilty. Jury trials occur in a public courtroom, with a judge present, where attorneys for both sides question the witnesses, and where a conviction can be obtained only when all 12 jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Grand Jury is quite different. It functions only at the beginning of the criminal investigation. Seven citizens (not 12) will have the responsibility of investigating allegations of crimes against the laws of Iowa in Polk County. The investigation usually consists of witnesses testifying before the Grand Jury, with a Prosecutor and Grand Jurors asking questions.


What does a Grand Jury do?

After the Grand Jury investigates the allegations of the crime, they may decide to indict an accused. If a Grand Jury indicts, the person is charged with a criminal offense and will have to continue in the criminal justice process. The Grand Jury has no further responsibility in that case. The prosecution is taken over by either the Polk County Attorney or the Iowa Attorney General.

As a member of a Grand Jury, you stand in a very real sense between the government and the accused. A Grand Jury must never be made an instrument of private prejudice, vengeance, or malice. It is your duty to see that indictments are returned only against those persons you find probable cause to believe are guilty of a criminal offense under State law and should be prosecuted and held accountable. In addition to this primary function, a Grand Jury has several other statutory obligations, which would be explained by the judge if you are chosen to be a Grand Jury member.

After the Grand Jury investigates the allegations of the crime, they may decide to indict an accused. If a Grand Jury indicts, the person is charged with a criminal offense and will have to continue in the criminal justice process. The Grand Jury has no further responsibility in that case. The prosecution is taken over by either the Polk County Attorney or the Iowa Attorney General.

As a member of a Grand Jury, you stand in a very real sense between the government and the accused. A Grand Jury must never be made an instrument of private prejudice, vengeance, or malice. It is your duty to see that indictments are returned only against those persons you find probable cause to believe are guilty of a criminal offense under State law and should be prosecuted and held accountable. In addition to this primary function, a Grand Jury has several other statutory obligations, which would be explained by the judge if you are chosen to be a Grand Jury member.


How long is Grand Jury duty?

If you are selected to sit on the Grand Jury, you will be on-call for three months. No one knows in advance how often you will meet. When there is a need for the Grand Jury, the Jury Clerk will notify you when to report. On average, the Grand Jury meets three days during each three months.

If you are selected to sit on the Grand Jury, you will be on-call for three months. No one knows in advance how often you will meet. When there is a need for the Grand Jury, the Jury Clerk will notify you when to report. On average, the Grand Jury meets three days during each three months.


What are the hours of a Grand Jury?

The Grand Jury meets from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., Monday thru Friday, when in session.

The Grand Jury meets from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., Monday thru Friday, when in session.


How long is Trial Jury duty?

If you are selected to sit on a Trial Jury, you will need to be present during the entire course of the trial. Once the trial is finished, your duty ends. Generally, the hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you are selected to sit on a Trial Jury, you will need to be present during the entire course of the trial. Once the trial is finished, your duty ends. Generally, the hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Can I be excused from jury service?

The judge may excuse anyone with a mental or physical disability if they provide a written excuse from a physician or health care provider stating they are unable to serve as a juror, stay-at-home breast-feeding mothers, a care giver to an invalid, and a person in the military.

The judge may excuse anyone with a mental or physical disability if they provide a written excuse from a physician or health care provider stating they are unable to serve as a juror, stay-at-home breast-feeding mothers, a care giver to an invalid, and a person in the military.


What if I have a vacation, wedding, or a medical appointment?

Alternates are selected for both a Grand Jury and a Trial Jury. The system usually works around conflicts such as vacations, illness, or other emergencies.

Alternates are selected for both a Grand Jury and a Trial Jury. The system usually works around conflicts such as vacations, illness, or other emergencies.


How much do I get paid for jury duty?

Pursuant to Iowa law, jurors receive $30 a day for serving up to seven days and are entitled to reimbursement for travel to and from the courthouse and for parking expenses.  Jurors receive $50 per day for each day that exceeds seven days of service.  While employers are not required to pay the salaries of employees on jury duty, many do so in recognition of the importance of jury service.

Pursuant to Iowa law, jurors receive $30 a day for serving up to seven days and are entitled to reimbursement for travel to and from the courthouse and for parking expenses.  Jurors receive $50 per day for each day that exceeds seven days of service.  While employers are not required to pay the salaries of employees on jury duty, many do so in recognition of the importance of jury service.


Do I have to pay for parking if I have jury duty?

No, as long as you park in any parking ramp owned by the City of Des Moines. Bring your parking ticket to the Jury Clerk for validation each day. Parking in any other facility or overtime parking tickets will be at your own expense. The closest parking ramps are: 422 Walnut, 210 2nd Ave., and 4th and Grand.

No, as long as you park in any parking ramp owned by the City of Des Moines. Bring your parking ticket to the Jury Clerk for validation each day. Parking in any other facility or overtime parking tickets will be at your own expense. The closest parking ramps are: 422 Walnut, 210 2nd Ave., and 4th and Grand.


How are juries chosen?

Jurors may be chosen from the current voter registration list, the current motor vehicle operators list, and/or a list of public utility customers.

Jurors may be chosen from the current voter registration list, the current motor vehicle operators list, and/or a list of public utility customers.


Who do I talk to if I have questions about jury duty?

Call the Jury Clerk at (515) 286-3769.

Call the Jury Clerk at (515) 286-3769.


Juvenile

My child was taken away from me by the State/DHS/Police. How do I get my child back?

There are several things you will have to do before your child is returned to your home. Call your DHS (Department of Human Services) worker to talk about what you can do.

There are several things you will have to do before your child is returned to your home. Call your DHS (Department of Human Services) worker to talk about what you can do.


My child was taken away from me by the State/DHS/Police. Can I see my child?

Usually, visits are set up immediately; however, there are circumstances that may prevent you from seeing your child. Call your DHS worker to set up a visit.

Usually, visits are set up immediately; however, there are circumstances that may prevent you from seeing your child. Call your DHS worker to set up a visit.


How can I collect back/current owed child support?

If you are on public assistance or FIP (Family Investment Program), the DHS Child Support Recovery Office will do this for you. You must provide your Income Worker or FADS Worker with the name of the child's other parent.

If you are not on public assistance, you must contact a private attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact Polk County Legal Aid at (515) 243-1193 or the ISBA Volunteer Lawyer Project at (515) 243-3179.

If you are on public assistance or FIP (Family Investment Program), the DHS Child Support Recovery Office will do this for you. You must provide your Income Worker or FADS Worker with the name of the child's other parent.

If you are not on public assistance, you must contact a private attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact Polk County Legal Aid at (515) 243-1193 or the ISBA Volunteer Lawyer Project at (515) 243-3179.


Landlord/Tenant

I don't want my girlfriend (boyfriend, spouse, sister, etc.) living with me anymore. Can I make them leave?

Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.


I'm having problems with my landlord. What are my rights?

Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.

Call Home Incorporated at (515) 243-1277.


Mental Health/Substance Abuse

I suspect my son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc is using drugs can we force them to receive treatment?

Yes, forced treatment of substance abusers takes place under Chapter 125 of the Iowa Code and allows for forced hospitalization of people who are Chronic Substance Abusers if:

  • The habitually lack self control as to the use of chemical substances as a result of that habitual lack of self control
  • They lack judgement capacity with respect to their hospitalization or treatment; and
  • They are dangerous. Dangerousness can be proved in one (1) of two (2) ways, either:
    • As a result of their lack of self control they are likely to physically injure themselves or others if allowed to remain at liberty without treatment; or
    • As a result of their lack of self control they are likely to endanger their health if allowed to remain at liberty without treatment.

Yes, forced treatment of substance abusers takes place under Chapter 125 of the Iowa Code and allows for forced hospitalization of people who are Chronic Substance Abusers if:

  • The habitually lack self control as to the use of chemical substances as a result of that habitual lack of self control
  • They lack judgement capacity with respect to their hospitalization or treatment; and
  • They are dangerous. Dangerousness can be proved in one (1) of two (2) ways, either:
    • As a result of their lack of self control they are likely to physically injure themselves or others if allowed to remain at liberty without treatment; or
    • As a result of their lack of self control they are likely to endanger their health if allowed to remain at liberty without treatment.

How do I start the process to have my son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc forced into treatment?

Contact the Mental Health Clerk for the 5th Judicial District at (515) 286-3666. You together with a doctor's letter, alleging your son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc. is a Chronic Substance Abuser or is Seriously Mentally Impaired, or another witness will need to present yourself to the clerk to fill out the paperwork necessary to do a filing. After the paperwork is filed, a hearing will take place within five (5) days, where a judge will determine whether or not your son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc is a Chronic Substance Abuser or is Seriously Mentally Impaired.

Contact the Mental Health Clerk for the 5th Judicial District at (515) 286-3666. You together with a doctor's letter, alleging your son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc. is a Chronic Substance Abuser or is Seriously Mentally Impaired, or another witness will need to present yourself to the clerk to fill out the paperwork necessary to do a filing. After the paperwork is filed, a hearing will take place within five (5) days, where a judge will determine whether or not your son, daughter, relative, coworker, etc is a Chronic Substance Abuser or is Seriously Mentally Impaired.


Restitution

Am I entitled to receive restitution from the person who committed the crime against me?

Yes. The Polk County Attorney's office sends a victim packet to all victims to be returned with the amount of losses due to injury to property damage where a suspect has been identified and charged with the crime. If the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty to the offense, the Court will order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim. Once restitution is ordered, the Department of Corrections collects restitution from inmates to be paid to their victims.

Yes. The Polk County Attorney's office sends a victim packet to all victims to be returned with the amount of losses due to injury to property damage where a suspect has been identified and charged with the crime. If the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty to the offense, the Court will order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim. Once restitution is ordered, the Department of Corrections collects restitution from inmates to be paid to their victims.


Can I garnish the offender's wages and/or income tax?

State Income Tax: Once restitution has been ordered by the Court, and the offender is in default, the State of Iowa Clerk of Court will seize the offender’s state income taxes to reimburse victim restitution.

Wages: Restitution filed in a criminal case is a judgment and lien against all property of the offender for the amount the offender is obligated to pay under the Order, and may be recorded in any Civil Office for a filing of liens against real or personal property. This judgment of restitution may be enforced by the State, the victim(s) entitled to receive restitution under the Order, a deceased victim’s estate, or any other beneficiary of this judgment in the same manner as a civil judgment.

State Income Tax: Once restitution has been ordered by the Court, and the offender is in default, the State of Iowa Clerk of Court will seize the offender’s state income taxes to reimburse victim restitution.

Wages: Restitution filed in a criminal case is a judgment and lien against all property of the offender for the amount the offender is obligated to pay under the Order, and may be recorded in any Civil Office for a filing of liens against real or personal property. This judgment of restitution may be enforced by the State, the victim(s) entitled to receive restitution under the Order, a deceased victim’s estate, or any other beneficiary of this judgment in the same manner as a civil judgment.


Restraining Orders: No Contact Orders & Protective Orders

How do I get a Restraining Order?

There are many different types of Restraining Orders. The reason you need a Restraining Order will determine the process and procedures used to apply for the Order.

The most common, No Contact Orders, are issued in cases in which a person has been arrested and charged with a crime. These orders are commonly called Criminal No Contact Orders. They are generally issued in cases of domestic abuse assault, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, and assault. These orders are requested by the Polk County Attorney’s Office at the time of the defendant’s first appearance before a judge.

Another common order is a Protective Order. These orders are issued through the Civil Court and involve those persons who have been victims of domestic abuse. It is not required that the person who committed the assault be arrested to obtain the order. Applications for the Protective Order may be obtained in Room 115 of the Polk County Courthouse, 5th & Mulberry, Des Moines.

There are many different types of Restraining Orders. The reason you need a Restraining Order will determine the process and procedures used to apply for the Order.

The most common, No Contact Orders, are issued in cases in which a person has been arrested and charged with a crime. These orders are commonly called Criminal No Contact Orders. They are generally issued in cases of domestic abuse assault, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, and assault. These orders are requested by the Polk County Attorney’s Office at the time of the defendant’s first appearance before a judge.

Another common order is a Protective Order. These orders are issued through the Civil Court and involve those persons who have been victims of domestic abuse. It is not required that the person who committed the assault be arrested to obtain the order. Applications for the Protective Order may be obtained in Room 115 of the Polk County Courthouse, 5th & Mulberry, Des Moines.


I have a No Contact Order against me. How do I get my belongings from the residence?

You will want to use a third party (relative, friend, etc.) who can contact the protected party to arrange to get your property. You should provide the third party person with a list of requested items and also suggest several possible dates and times for the exchange.

You will want to use a third party (relative, friend, etc.) who can contact the protected party to arrange to get your property. You should provide the third party person with a list of requested items and also suggest several possible dates and times for the exchange.


I have a Restraining Order against me. Can I talk to the other person by phone?

Generally no. You are prevented from any contact with the protected party including contact by telephone. The Order will set out whether you are prevented from telephone conversations or if limited telephone contact is allowed.

Generally no. You are prevented from any contact with the protected party including contact by telephone. The Order will set out whether you are prevented from telephone conversations or if limited telephone contact is allowed.


I have a Restraining Order against me. Can I send another person to talk to them?

You cannot send a person to speak to the protected party on your behalf or to relay any messages.

You cannot send a person to speak to the protected party on your behalf or to relay any messages.


I have a Restraining Order against me. Can I go to our child's school program if the other person may be there?

Your Order prevents you from being in the presence of the protected party. This includes school programs, sporting events, and practices involving your children. If there are going to be times in which you will need to attend events involving your children, it is best to get the Order modified to allow you to do so. You will want to contact your attorney so that he or she can make the request.

Your Order prevents you from being in the presence of the protected party. This includes school programs, sporting events, and practices involving your children. If there are going to be times in which you will need to attend events involving your children, it is best to get the Order modified to allow you to do so. You will want to contact your attorney so that he or she can make the request.


The offender violated the No Contact Order. Who do I notify?

You will want to report this to the police department in the city in which the violation occurred. They will investigate the incident and determine whether a charge should be filed. If they do not file a charge, they may submit it to the Polk County Attorney’s Office for review. We will then determine if there is enough evidence to file the charge.

If you have a No Contact Order in which a criminal charge (domestic abuse assault, harassment, assault, stalking, sexual abuse, etc.) is pending, you will also want to contact the attorney in the Polk County Attorney’s Office who is handling your case. If you do not know who the attorney assigned to handle your case is, you can call the Polk County Attorney’s Office at (515) 286-3737 to find out.

You will want to report this to the police department in the city in which the violation occurred. They will investigate the incident and determine whether a charge should be filed. If they do not file a charge, they may submit it to the Polk County Attorney’s Office for review. We will then determine if there is enough evidence to file the charge.

If you have a No Contact Order in which a criminal charge (domestic abuse assault, harassment, assault, stalking, sexual abuse, etc.) is pending, you will also want to contact the attorney in the Polk County Attorney’s Office who is handling your case. If you do not know who the attorney assigned to handle your case is, you can call the Polk County Attorney’s Office at (515) 286-3737 to find out.


How do I get a No Contact Order dropped?

You will want to contact the attorney within the Polk County Attorney’s Office who is assigned to handle the case. Please call (515) 286-3737 to find out who you will need to speak with to make the application to cancel the Order.

Since the case is handled on behalf of the State of Iowa, it is not automatic upon your request that the No Contact Order would be dropped. After your request is received, the attorney will review your request and then advise you if we will be asking that the No Contact Order be canceled.

You will want to contact the attorney within the Polk County Attorney’s Office who is assigned to handle the case. Please call (515) 286-3737 to find out who you will need to speak with to make the application to cancel the Order.

Since the case is handled on behalf of the State of Iowa, it is not automatic upon your request that the No Contact Order would be dropped. After your request is received, the attorney will review your request and then advise you if we will be asking that the No Contact Order be canceled.


Sex Offender

How can I find out if someone is a registered sex offender?

There are three ways to find out if someone is a registered sex offender in Polk County:

  1. Information on sex offenders, who are at-risk to re-offend, is given to public schools, day cares, neighborhood associations (if requested), and the news media.
  2. You can contact the Main Jail and view pictures in the Manual of sex offenders who are at-risk to re-offend.
  3. If you know a person's name, you can contact the Main Jail and fill out a request form to search the database for a particular sex offender

For more information, call the Sex Offender Registry Desk, located at the Main Jail, at (515) 286-2030.

For more information on sex offenders in the State of Iowa, contact the Division of Criminal Investigations at (515) 281-3666.

Click here for the Department of Criminal Investigations Sex Offender Registry.

There are three ways to find out if someone is a registered sex offender in Polk County:

  1. Information on sex offenders, who are at-risk to re-offend, is given to public schools, day cares, neighborhood associations (if requested), and the news media.
  2. You can contact the Main Jail and view pictures in the Manual of sex offenders who are at-risk to re-offend.
  3. If you know a person's name, you can contact the Main Jail and fill out a request form to search the database for a particular sex offender

For more information, call the Sex Offender Registry Desk, located at the Main Jail, at (515) 286-2030.

For more information on sex offenders in the State of Iowa, contact the Division of Criminal Investigations at (515) 281-3666.

Click here for the Department of Criminal Investigations Sex Offender Registry.


Victim Assistance

How do I find out if someone is in jail?

Call the Polk County Jail at (515) 286-3804.

Call the Polk County Jail at (515) 286-3804.


May I let the Parole Board know how I feel about a possible release of an offender?

Any citizen may send information to the Parole Board at any time regarding their feelings about an inmate's release. It is possible in Iowa that the offender's sentence does not include eligibility for parole, but may still be reviewed. Contact the Parole Board at (515) 242-5757.

Any citizen may send information to the Parole Board at any time regarding their feelings about an inmate's release. It is possible in Iowa that the offender's sentence does not include eligibility for parole, but may still be reviewed. Contact the Parole Board at (515) 242-5757.


As a crime victim, will I be notified of upcoming parole hearings or release dates for the offender?

To receive notification of upcoming parole hearings, release dates, death of an offender, or escape of an offender, you must register as a victim with the Polk County Attorney's Office. Requests are then sent to the Department of Corrections by the Polk County Attorney's Office.

To receive notification of upcoming parole hearings, release dates, death of an offender, or escape of an offender, you must register as a victim with the Polk County Attorney's Office. Requests are then sent to the Department of Corrections by the Polk County Attorney's Office.


I have been receiving threats or unwanted calls or letters from a prison inmate. What can I do?

Call the Iowa Office of Victim Programs for help at (515) 242-5742 or 1-800-778-1182.

Call the Iowa Office of Victim Programs for help at (515) 242-5742 or 1-800-778-1182.


I would like to meet with the offender who hurt my family or me. Who should I call?

Call the Polk County Restorative Justice Center at (515) 286-3737 for information on the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP).

Call the Polk County Restorative Justice Center at (515) 286-3737 for information on the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP).


Witness Assistance

What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is an office court ordered requiring you to appear at the time and place it specifies, usually to provide testimony. 

A subpoena is an office court ordered requiring you to appear at the time and place it specifies, usually to provide testimony. 


What happens if I do not appear at the time and place specified in the subpoena?

Failure to appear in district court constitutes contempt of court, which could possibly result in a warrant issued for your arrest, a fine up to $500 or imprisonment of up to 6 months

Failure to appear in district court constitutes contempt of court, which could possibly result in a warrant issued for your arrest, a fine up to $500 or imprisonment of up to 6 months


I have received a subpoena. Who can I call if I have questions?

The Assistant County Attorney assigned to the case or their assistant.  There will be a telephone number listed at the bottom of your subpoena - call that number to speak with them directly.  If there is no number, call (515)286-3737 to find out who is assigned to the case. 

The Assistant County Attorney assigned to the case or their assistant.  There will be a telephone number listed at the bottom of your subpoena - call that number to speak with them directly.  If there is no number, call (515)286-3737 to find out who is assigned to the case. 


I have been subpoenaed to appear in court, but I cannot get off work. What should I do?

Your employer is required by State law to allow you to testify in court, as long as you have a court ordered subpoena.  If your employer refuses to allow you time to testify, immediately call the prosecutor listed on your subpoena.

Your employer is required by State law to allow you to testify in court, as long as you have a court ordered subpoena.  If your employer refuses to allow you time to testify, immediately call the prosecutor listed on your subpoena.


Will the defendant be there when I have to testify?

Yes.  The defendant has a constitutional right to face their accuser and will be present at all court proceedings.

Yes.  The defendant has a constitutional right to face their accuser and will be present at all court proceedings.


I am a witness in a case, and I have moved recently. Who should I notify of my new address?

If you move or change your phone number, immediately contact the Assistant County Attorney assigned to the case.

If you move or change your phone number, immediately contact the Assistant County Attorney assigned to the case.


What is a deposition?

A witness’ statements, taken under oath, which are put into writing by a court reporter.   These statements are made out-of-court in the presence of Assistant County Attorney, the defendant and the defense attorney.

A witness’ statements, taken under oath, which are put into writing by a court reporter.   These statements are made out-of-court in the presence of Assistant County Attorney, the defendant and the defense attorney.


Do I get compensated for appearing to testify?

You are entitled to $5.00 for each half day and $10.00 for each full day that you appear to testify.  There may be a mileage allowance for witnesses.  After your appearance, a member of the County Attorney’s Office will write the total mileage on your subpoena and ask the judge to sign it.  You will take your subpoena to the Criminal Clerk of Court, Room 201, Polk County Courthouse for compensation.

You are entitled to $5.00 for each half day and $10.00 for each full day that you appear to testify.  There may be a mileage allowance for witnesses.  After your appearance, a member of the County Attorney’s Office will write the total mileage on your subpoena and ask the judge to sign it.  You will take your subpoena to the Criminal Clerk of Court, Room 201, Polk County Courthouse for compensation.


I am a witness in a case, and I am being threatened or harassed. What do I do?

Tampering with witnesses and harassment are crimes.  Contact the local police department and the Assistant County Attorney assigned to your case.

Tampering with witnesses and harassment are crimes.  Contact the local police department and the Assistant County Attorney assigned to your case.


Do I have to talk to the defense attorney, the defendant, or anyone else connected to the case?

You are not required to talk to a defense attorney, the defendant, or anyone else connected to the case. If the defense wants your statement, they may subpoena you for a deposition at which time a member of the County Attorney's Office will be present. When you discuss the facts of the case you are involved with, always tell the truth.

You are not required to talk to a defense attorney, the defendant, or anyone else connected to the case. If the defense wants your statement, they may subpoena you for a deposition at which time a member of the County Attorney's Office will be present. When you discuss the facts of the case you are involved with, always tell the truth.


Is there anything I should know when coming to court to be a witness?

  • Prepare: Refresh your memory so you can avoid confusion.  Before testifying, picture the scene, the objects, the persons and what occurred.  Review all statements you provided to the police and if you were deposed, review your deposition. 
  • Dress Appropriately, Act Courteously: Court rules specify that witnesses shall be properly attired.  Dress comfortably, but conservatively.  Be respectful and answer the questions asked.
  • Speak Clearly and Loudly: Everyone in the courtroom must be able to hear distinctly what you have to say.  An inaudible voice or mumbling detracts from your testimony and may give the impression that you are not certain of what you are saying.  Don’t be afraid to speak up – you are not on trial.
  • Be Honest: A trial is a serious and important matter.  The court wants the facts.

Don't exaggerate or try to slant your testimony.  Answer the questions asked to you by both the prosecutor and defense attorney. Tell the truth.

Answer all questions directly: Follow this simple guide:

  • Listen carefully to the question.  Take time to think about your answer.
  • Answer the question asked, no more.
  • Speak distinctly and loud enough for the judge and jury to hear you.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.
  • Don’t try to answer a question you do not understand.  Ask that it be explained
  • Don’t argue with the attorneys
  • Sometimes, the court may limit certain testimony based on the rules of evidence or case law.  The prosecutor will inform you of this.  Follow what the prosecutor tells you.

Above all, think before you speak and always speak the truth.

  • Prepare: Refresh your memory so you can avoid confusion.  Before testifying, picture the scene, the objects, the persons and what occurred.  Review all statements you provided to the police and if you were deposed, review your deposition. 
  • Dress Appropriately, Act Courteously: Court rules specify that witnesses shall be properly attired.  Dress comfortably, but conservatively.  Be respectful and answer the questions asked.
  • Speak Clearly and Loudly: Everyone in the courtroom must be able to hear distinctly what you have to say.  An inaudible voice or mumbling detracts from your testimony and may give the impression that you are not certain of what you are saying.  Don’t be afraid to speak up – you are not on trial.
  • Be Honest: A trial is a serious and important matter.  The court wants the facts.

Don't exaggerate or try to slant your testimony.  Answer the questions asked to you by both the prosecutor and defense attorney. Tell the truth.

Answer all questions directly: Follow this simple guide:

  • Listen carefully to the question.  Take time to think about your answer.
  • Answer the question asked, no more.
  • Speak distinctly and loud enough for the judge and jury to hear you.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.
  • Don’t try to answer a question you do not understand.  Ask that it be explained
  • Don’t argue with the attorneys
  • Sometimes, the court may limit certain testimony based on the rules of evidence or case law.  The prosecutor will inform you of this.  Follow what the prosecutor tells you.

Above all, think before you speak and always speak the truth.


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