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Benjamin Kohn

Benjamin Kohn

Transactional, Small Claims, & Traffic/Misdemeanor Defense Attorney
  • Traffic Tickets, DUI & DWI, Business Law...
  • Iowa
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Summary

Notice to Prospective Clients: Please don't cold call me without an appointment to inquire about your legal matter. Please first visit my website, http://www.kohnlawofficeofiowa.com and if you're interested in my services as described there and your matter is in Iowa, please email me the type of issue you want help with through the webform to request permission/instructions to schedule a phone consult.

I'm an Iowa licensed attorney with a very diverse, yet practical, skill set and range of expertise, which allows me to take a cross-functional and interdisciplinary approach to all services I render. From Data Science, Game Theory, and Statistical Risk Management Guided Decision Sciences, to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)-enhanced communication and advocacy skills, to a strong comprehension of business, corporate finance, and technology, I possess a broad breadth of skills.

I decided to go to law school upon taking a business law course while studying business as my major in college, and upon graduating from college with my Bachelors in Business Administration in 2015 I attended the University of Iowa College of Law, from which I graduated with my J.D. Upon graduation, to be near my family and primary health care providers I moved back to my hometown of Mountain View, CA, but upon licensure to practice law in Iowa, I started a solo virtual office practice offering unbundled legal services to Iowans remotely, statewide.

I hold additional certifications in data and decision sciences by SJSU, in the "Securities Industry Essentials" by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) by the Association for Integrative Psychology. Please see my LinkedIn and website for more information.

My practice areas include transactional law, civil small claims, and misdemeanor criminal defense practice areas. A particular passion, offered at subsidized fixed fee rates, is assistance in contesting traffic tickets.

Practice Areas
  • Traffic Tickets
  • DUI & DWI
  • Business Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Appeals & Appellate
  • Criminal Law
Fees
  • Free Consultation
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Rates, Retainers and Additional Information
    Fixed Fee Packages from $95 and Hourly Services from $60/hour.
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Iowa
Supreme Court of Iowa
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Languages
  • English: Spoken, Written
Education
University of Iowa College of Law
J.D. (2018)
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California State University - San Jose State University
B.S. (2015) | Business Admin
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Professional Associations
State Bar of Iowa
Member
Current
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Iowa State Bar Association
- Current
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Certifications
NLP Certified Master Practitioner
Association for Integrative Psychology
Securities Industry Essentials
FINRA
Decision Sciences
California State University - San Jose State University
Websites & Blogs
Website
Legal Answers
4 Questions Answered

Q. If I was never physicality issued or notified of a traffic citation, can I be held liable for failure to pay or appear?
A: If he was never notified of the charges against him, never signed a promise to appear, etc., then this is clearly a violation of his rights under constitutional due process. Additionally, Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.55 requires that the defendant be served with a complaint that identifies the county, applicable court, known parties, a concise statement of the act or acts constituting the offense, including the time and place of its commission as near may be, and identifying by number the provision of law alleged to be violated. Ordinarily, as a condition of not being arrested and brought before the Magistrate to be ordered to appear for release from custody (almost never happens for ordinary traffic charges), the officer has the defendant sign a promise to appear, which is not an admission of guilt, but a contract to enter a plea (paying is guilty plea) with the Court by a certain date, secured by an "unsecured" appearance bond that can be forfeited (reduced to judgment by the Court) if there is a failure to do so, which can result in a default judgment of conviction and sentence if there is not a timely response to the complaint in Court. This would be forwarded to the Iowa DOT, and if his driver's license is not Iowa, for most states the Iowa DOT would forward the conviction to the licensing state's counterpart to be added to his driving record there and treated as if the equivalent offense (if there is one) had been committed in the licensing state for purposes of civil/administrative license sanctions. If his driving record and the rules of that state were such that the acquisition of a conviction would violate probation, it triggered that process. It sounds as though, if your son is correct, a complaint was filed, falsely certified to have been served upon him, and then due to lack of response the Court entered a default. Lack of or improper service of the complaint, especially for a criminal charge, is definitely a strong basis for a motion to set aside the conviction and default judgment. Unless the State responds and shows persuasive evidence that he did in fact get notice/service, the Court will almost certainly grant the motion. Once they do, he'd have to go through the hassle of getting the Clerk of Court to understand what happened (this is very unusual and they can be passive about actively monitoring the correct protocols on traffic cases at times) and that the effect of the Order setting aside means it's now their job to manually send a correction to the Iowa DOT rescinding the conviction. You'll probably need to be a squeaky wheel until they do so. Once they do, the Iowa DOT is *supposed* to forward that notice to the home state, but I've seen them and home states fail to match the rescindment notice with the conviction notice and this creates an inaccurate driving record. He'll have to monitor his driving record until this is fixed, and actively communicate with both the Iowa DOT and the equivalent in the licensing state to ensure this actually gets fixed. There may be serious consequences from the conviction if it triggered a probation violation, the case on that itself will have deadlines for him to get a hearing to contest the grounds for revoking probation, and he needs to stay on top of this in parallel to ensure that tribunal also becomes aware this was a default conviction due to lack of notice/service that he's seeking to resolve in Iowa Court. He should also be aware that so long as there is a conviction of a traffic offense pertaining to this accident, the facts that constitute the elements of the offense convicted will be deemed indisputably true as a matter of law and will not be able to be relitigated for defending any civil personal injury case. Further, if violation of a criminal statute proscribing conduct to protect against this type of harm caused the accident, that's deemed negligence per se as a matter of law. He now has serious implications for his civil liability at stake.
Q. What a criminal surcharge
A: Although it may seem esoteric, from a philosophical and legislative capacity role, fines serve a particular role in connection with criminal offenses: to punish for the violation so that there is a deterrence to committing the offense by that example, and to rehabilitate by using the negative consequence to try to shape the offender's future decisions. A criminal enforcement surcharge is basically a quasi-civil assessment primarily set for the purpose of funding law enforcement grants and programs (including, I believe, the Traffic Safety Bureau the State runs for special purpose grants to local law enforcement agencies, which the legislature decided made sense to place some of that burden isolated on those who've committed traffic violations. The amount of the assessment is set as 35% of the scheduled fine. The amount due upon a guilty plea or finding resulting in conviction for Iowa scheduled traffic violations is comprised of a scheduled fine amount, the 35% criminal enforcement surcharge, and court costs (typically fixed at $60 per count, and are also assessed to recover the costs the court system incurs for adjudicating and transacting traffic cases). The apportionment of this revenue, once collected, is different for each pot of money. Court Costs go to the court system, and the allocation between the general fund of the prosecuting government entity (City, County, or State) and other governmental entities, departments, or programs of the scheduled fine is different than for the criminal surcharge. More practically, it mostly operates as an itemized system for accounting who gets what share of the ticket revenue transacted through the clerk of court.
Q. I bumped the car in front of me due to anti lock breaks failing. Ticket for "following too close" Worth contesting?
A: Possibly. That you rear ended the car in front of you is weighty evidence that you were, in fact, following too closely, but not is not per se conclusive that you were. Iowa Code 321.307 provides: "The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway." How much distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you that you had a duty to maintain depends on on what following distance met a strictly construed, criminally punishable degree of unreasonableness or imprudence in the same set of circumstances you were in, including road conditions and comparative speeds. If the only reason you rear ended them was due to an equipment defect that you did not know about ahead of time and could not reasonably have discovered ahead of time, and but for that equipment failure the following distance would have allowed the average person ample time to stop without a collision for those road conditions and comparative speeds, then I don't think you would be guilty of violating that criminal misdemeanor statute the traffic ticket is charging you with. However, if the brake failure was only a contributing factor and the following distance had been unreasonable even assuming working brakes, then you'd probably be factually guilty. Which takes us to your question of is it worth fighting? That this is part and parcel to an accident does not work in your favor, being considered at fault for an accident is likely to make you look unsympathetic to most jurors and many judges, which (shouldn't, but realistically can) have the effect of making the legal determinations and discretionary factual inferences end up biased against you, increasing the chances of conviction even if you do fight it. Yet, that this goes to the cause of an accident may make it highly advisable to do everything possible to fight it anyway, if liability had not been conceded and the accident itself might become a personal injury civil dispute, especially if there was bodily injury involved. If you pay the ticket, you're pleading guilty, which means admitting the facts that constitute elements of the charge, and those same facts are deemed admitted in a civil case and cannot then be litigated if in dispute. Aside from that, the consequences of traffic ticket convictions generally can be a lot higher than is commonly known, especially for Iowa's system of them which labels all violations as criminal misdemeanors and creates a public misdemeanor record. You may have also heard about the impact they have in car insurance premiums come renewal, for years, which by itself can end up in the thousands of dollars. If your car insurance is defending the accident, ask the attorney who they provide you for advice as to the ticket before pleading guilty, and be mindful of your deadline to respond to the ticket, so you're not deemed to have pleaded guilty by default. If your insurance settles the accident, I'd recommend consulting an attorney through a more private forum to give you a more individualized assessment. Anything I write here should not be relied upon as legal advice, and is general information that could be affected by outside facts. I offer various consultation types and services in traffic ticket defense, which you can read about at: https://kohnlawofficeofiowa.com/fixed-fee-services-%26-rate
Q. Am I allowed to speed up above the speed limit to overtake a vehicle?
A: Speed limit violations in Iowa are, unfortunately, strict liability (e.g. you're guilty if you are operating a vehicle on a public roadway that exceeded the posted speed limit regardless of your subjective reasoning, intent, or knowledge of doing so). Inability to overtake another vehicle without speeding would not be a defense to speeding; rather, you would be prohibited from passing in such a circumstance. That said, you are not required to drive slower than, or match the speed of, a police officer near you if the speed you are going is otherwise lawful (compliant with the speed limit, safe in the conditions, and not violating any special rules for road construction or other special zones).
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Contact & Map
Kohn Law Office of Iowa, PLLC
315 E 5th Street
STE 202
Waterloo, IA 50703
USA
Telephone: (319) 343-6841