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Benjamin Bergmann

A fluent Spanish speaker, Ben Bergmann gears his practice specifically toward Iowa’s Hispanic community.  Ben can assist you with any case, anywhere in the State of Iowa, but he particularly focuses on criminal defense, both state and federal, immigration law, post-conviction relief, personal injury law, and appeals of all kinds. Ben offers many of his client’s “one-stop shopping” because he is a first-rate criminal defense attorney and a first-rate immigration attorney.

Ben is the first choice for Iowa’s immigrants because he is one of the very few attorneys in the state that 1) speaks Spanish fluently, 2) understands the immigration consequences of criminal activity, and 3) tries jury trials. Ben has tried many jury trials across the State of Iowa, both in state and federal courts, and has earned many acquittals for his clients. Ben is often retained to “clean up” cases from prior counsel through post-conviction relief and appellate work. Those that do not first choose Ben still frequently become clients because Iowa immigration attorneys frequently refer their clients to Ben when their own clients are charged with an offense. Ben also works with other immigration attorneys on his particular area of expertise, immigration consequences of criminal activity.

A native of Frederika, Iowa, Ben currently lives in Des Moines, where he utilizes his knowledge of Spanish and legal expertise as a volunteer at the HOLA Center legal clinic.  In his free time, Ben loves to cook barbecue and Creole food, play with his dog Grover, and spend time with family and friends.

Representative Cases:

State Criminal

  • Ben represented a Polk County resident against charges of Burglary in the First Degree, which would carry a prison sentence of 25 years, and Sex Abuse in the Third Degree, which would carry a prison sentence of 10 years.  The government alleged that Ben’s client had broken into a paramour’s residence and had sex with the paramour against their will. Our client denied the accusations in two hour-long interviews with police. After extensive motions and depositions, the case proceeded to trial, which lasted 6 days. After 5 hours of deliberations, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on all counts, including lesser included offenses of trespass and simple assault.  His name is withheld because he will be able to expunge this record from the court system.
  • Ben represented another Polk County resident with a charge of Sex Abuse in the Third Degree.  The allegation was that the defendant, a 28-year-old Hispanic man, had sex with a 19-year-old Caucasian woman against her will.  Following a one week trial, the individual was acquitted of all charges.  His name is withheld because he will be able to expunge this record from the court system.
  • Ben represented a central Iowa resident on a case of Sex Abuse in the Third Degree.  In this case a Hispanic man was alleged to have sexually abused a Caucasian woman.  He went to trial with other counsel and was convicted.  The judge granted him a new trial.  Ben represented the individual at the second trial.  At the second trial, the individual was found not guilty.
  • Another central Iowa man was charged with Sex Abuse in the Third Degree.  In layman’s terms, he was essentially accused of rape. The allegation was that he had had sex with a young Caucasian woman against her will.  His prior counsel had advised him to plead guilty, which would have not only landed the client on the lifetime sex offender registry, but more importantly also resulted in his permanent deportation to Honduras. Ben advised the client to allow him to conduct depositions, or sworn interviews, of the State’s witnesses. Following Ben’s depositions, it was abundantly clear that there were significant errors and oversights in the investigation, and that the alleged victim had significant credibility and believability issues. After extensive discussions with the county attorney, all sides realized that it would be best that the case not proceed to trial. Instead, Ben’s client pleaded guilty to a simple assault, admitting that he kicked a soccer ball in the alleged victim’s general direction. He was assessed a $65.00 fine. More importantly, he was not placed on the sex offender registry or deported.
  • Client in southern Iowa was charged with Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, (a Class B Felony). Client was facing a seventeen and one-half year (17 ½) mandatory minimum sentence prior to becoming eligible for parole. Following deposition of the alleged victim, the State dismissed the case.
  • In a Black Hawk County case in the early morning hours of December 25, 2013, Ben’s client was shot three times by a Cedar Falls Police Officer.  He was subsequently charged with Felony Assault on a Police Officer.  Following a two-week trial, the jury returned a verdict that his client merely committed a simple assault against a police officer.  This case is on appeal.
  • A central Iowa immigrant was charged with two counts of Child Endangerment.  Ben reached a plea agreement to simple misdemeanors which have had no immigration consequences for the individual.
  • Ben represented a long time central Iowa lawful permanent resident from Mexico.  He was charged with Child Endangerment because he had spanked his daughter after his daughter had told him that because they lived in the United States he could not discipline her.  Ben convinced the county attorney that they would never convict the individual.  A plea agreement was reached with no immigration consequences at a simple misdemeanor level.  Ben’s client is now a United States Citizen.
  • Ben assisted a central Iowa Hispanic immigrant that was charged with Burglary in the First Degree after he had drunkenly entered the wrong vehicle, which was the same color, make, model, and year as his vehicle.  The charges were reduced from a felony to a simple misdemeanor, with no immigration consequences.
  • Ben represented a central Iowa immigrant with a charge of Possession of Cocaine.  The State alleged that Ben’s client “constructively” possessed the contraband.  Following depositions of the officers involved, it became clear that there was no evidence whatsoever that suggested that Ben’s client possessed the contraband in question.  The State dismissed the charges against Ben’s client.
  • State of Iowa v. Rene Zarate – Ben Bergmann represented a client on a resentencing hearing. The client was sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile. Ben fought for a new sentence, arguing the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for a juvenile was unconstitutional. The district court agreed and entered a new sentence, making the client eligible for parole after serving 25 years total.
  • State v. Adnan Sahinovic:  Mr. Sahinovic was sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment as a juvenile.  Following the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Lyle, Ben convinced the judge to resentence Mr. Sahinovic and remove the mandatory minimum term.  Mr. Sahinovic was soon thereafter released from state custody.
  • Southern Iowa client was charged with, among other things, with Kidnapping in the First Degree (Class A Felony). If convicted at trial, Ben’s client would have been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. During discovery, client pleaded guilty to Willful Injury (non-forcible Class D Felony) and received a suspended sentence with no prison time imposed.
  • Ben took over an Identity Theft case from another attorney. The prior attorney had proceeded to trial and lost. Following a grant of a new trial, Ben was able to reach a plea agreement that had no immigration consequences and no time in jail. Client can now apply to become a lawful permanent resident.
  • Ben represented a Central Iowa client charged with Conspiracy to Deliver a Controlled Substance, a Class B Felony, punishable by a mandatory 1/3 minimum sentence (eight years, four months) before being eligible for parole if convicted at trial; Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver, (a Class B Felony); and Failure to Possess a Tax Stamp, a Class D Felony. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury returned a not guilty verdict on each count.
  • Ben’s client was charged with Carrying Weapons (an Aggravated Misdemeanor). If convicted, client would have been kicked out of the military and perhaps deported.  Following hearing on a Motion to Suppress, the State agreed to defer prosecution. Following a successful probationary period, the State dismissed the charge.
  • Client in southeast Iowa was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. Ben filed a motion to suppress, claiming the police obtained evidence violation of client’s constitutional rights. Following a hearing, the Court granted the motion and dismissed the case.
  • Southeast Iowa client was charged with Burglary in the First Degree (a Class B Felony), Robbery in the First Degree (a Class B Felony), and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (an Aggravated Misdemeanor). Client was facing a seventeen and one-half year (17 ½) mandatory minimum sentence prior to becoming eligible for parole on the Robbery charge alone. Mr. Bergmann convinced the Court the order his client to long-term substance abuse treatment. After two years of sobriety, and following depositions, Client pleaded guilty to Burglary in the Third Degree (a Class D Felony) and was placed on probation.
  • Ben represented two truck drivers of Cuban descent. They were stopped on I-80. The trailer they were hauling was discovered to be stolen. Both were charged with felony level theft charges. Ben presented sufficient evidence to the State that his clients had no knowledge the trailer was stolen, and the State dismissed the case.
  • Ben represented a Somalian immigrant with a criminal case in which he was charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance (a Class C Felony), which carried a possible 10-year prison sentence. Following discovery, the case was dismissed.
  • Ben has assisted several immigrants avoid a conviction for OWI and instead reach a plea agreement for Reckless Driving. This is especially important for individuals with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
  • For example, a central Iowa man hired Ben to assist him with an OWI, 1st Offense. Ben reviewed all the evidence, including an advisory the officer must give an Iowa driver before the driver offers a breath sample. The officer gave the advisory with one significant error. Ben filed a motion to suppress, or exclude, the evidence. The prosecutor agreed with the motion and agreed that the motion be granted without hearing. Ben’s client then pleaded to a Reckless Driving offense and a fine. Ben will be applying to the Iowa DOT to have the OWI removed from the driver’s record.
  • Ben has also assisted many DACA recipients in avoiding controlled substance convictions. For example, Ben represented a central Iowa immigrant charged with possession of a controlled substance. Following many weeks of negotiation, the prosecutor dismissed the case.
  • Ben has represented many, many individuals charged with Domestic Abuse and successfully resolved their cases so there were no immigration consequences.

Post-Conviction Relief

  • Semir Duric v. State, Buena Vista County Case No. PCCV027993. Client sought post-conviction relief, alleging he received ineffective assistance of counsel from his trial attorney because counsel failed to advise Client that the conviction in question would result in his deportation. Upon the scheduling of the deposition of former counsel, the State agreed to stipulate to granting post-conviction relief. Client has now accepted a plea agreement that will not result in his deportation.
  • Hector Camacho v. State:  Ben was retained to represent a young man that had been convicted of a burglary. This conviction was going to result in his deportation. Ben looked over the burglary trial and found many errors by his court-appointed counsel. Ben filed for post-conviction relief (PCR) on behalf of his client on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel by the prior attorney in the burglary trial. The PCR case proceeded to trial. The judge granted the PCR and vacated the burglary conviction. Because the burglary conviction was vacated, the deportation proceedings were also terminated, and Ben’s client was released from ICE custody. Ben was then able to reach a plea agreement where his client pleaded guilty to trespassing, a simple misdemeanor, and was sentenced to time served. The trespass conviction has no immigration consequences.
  • Jorge Gomez Patlan v. State: Ben represented Mr. Gomez in his post-conviction relief action, alleging that his prior counsel failed to advise him of the immigration consequences of his guilty plea. The Court granted the petition and vacated his conviction. Ben was then able to reach a plea agreement that had no immigration consequences.
  • Meho Ibrahimovic v. State: Mr. Ibrahimovic retained Ben to represent him. He was deported to Bosnia following convictions in Iowa District Court. He retained Ben and Parrish attorney Al Smith to file for post-conviction relief, alleging his criminal attorney offered him ineffective assistance of counsel. Following the deposition, or sworn testimony, of the prior attorney, Ben and Al felt the motion was ripe for summary judgment, which means in layman’s terms that the case should not even go to trial. Ben and Al wrote up a lengthy motion and the judge granted the client the relief he sought. The State then filed an appeal. That appeal was also denied.

Appellate Cases

  • State v. Mark Thompson:  Ben represented Mr. Thompson on appeal.  Ben successfully convinced the Iowa Supreme Court to change the law on a sentencing procedure in Iowa.  Judges now must state a reason why a particular sentence is appropriate.
  • State of Iowa v. Jose Francisco Jaquez:  In this appeal, Ben argued that the State had improperly used vouching testimony from an alleged expert.  In other words, Ben claimed that a witness cannot come into court and essentially that another witness is telling the truth.  The Iowa Supreme Court agreed and reversed Mr. Jaques’ conviction.  This case, along with two other decisions on the same issue, have become important precedent in the issue of vouching for witnesses in criminal trials.
  • State v. James Sinclair: In an especially strange turn of events for an attorney at the Parrish Law Firm, Ben represented the State’s interest in extending a no-contact order for Ben’s client, who the judge found had been a victim of harassment by the defendant.
  • Meho Ibrahimovic v. State: The State sought to reverse a district judge’s order vacating Ben’s client’s convictions. The Iowa Court of Appeals found in Ben’s favor.
  • Ben has assisted numerous immigrants before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal Criminal

  • United States v. Danny Wayne Fees: Ben was appointed to represent Mr. Fees only on his sentencing. US Probation had calculated the guideline sentence in his case to be 63-78 months, or 5 years to 6.5 years. Ben argued that under recent US Supreme Court precedent, the guidelines range should have been much, much lower. At the sentencing hearing, Ben won two important battles with the government, and in fact, the federal judge noted the same on the record. The judge agreed with Ben and sentenced Mr. Fees to 18 months in prison, a reduction of almost 5 years.
  • Ben represented represent a very young central Iowa woman indicted in federal court for distributing heroin. After reviewing the evidence and explaining the equities in the case, especially the hardships this young woman had suffered, Ben was able to convince the US Attorney’s Office to dismiss the case.
  • United States v. Ruben Valdovinos, U.S. District Court, S. Dist. of Iowa, Case No. 4:09-cr-00198-JEG-CFB. Client was charged a pleaded guilty to illegal reentry to the United States. The sentencing guidelines called for a range of imprisonment of 57-71 months. After argument at sentencing, client received a downward variance of twenty months, and was sentenced to only 37 months.
  • United States v. Eliseo Umana Garcia, U.S. District Court, S. Dist. of Iowa, Case No. 4:10-cr-00064-REL-RAW-1. Client was charged and pleaded guilty to illegal reentry. The sentencing guidelines called for a range of imprisonment of 57-71 months. After argument at sentencing, client received a downward variance of 17 months, and was sentenced to only 40 months.
  • Ben has represented many, many individuals with drug conspiracy cases in the federal courts in Iowa. Many of them cannot be recounted here because they involved very serious allegations with very serious consequences.

Immigration

  • Ben Bergmann assisted a central Iowa immigrant with United States citizen wife and children before the Board of Immigration Appeals.  Ben argued that the immigration judge had errored in ordering him deported because the individual had a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude.  The Board agreed and remanded the case to the immigration judge.
  • Ben took over the case of another individual from a colleague.  Ben was able to convince the immigration judge that his client had not been convicted of neither an aggravated felony nor a crime involving moral turpitude and his deportation case was dismissed.
  • Ben has been able to assist many immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to avoid convictions of Operating While Intoxicated and controlled substance convictions, which would disqualify them from the program.
  • Silvia Guadalupe Ganuza v. the United States of America et al., U.S. District Court, S. Dist. of Iowa, Case No. 4:10-cv-72. Client filed for writ of mandamus and for an injunction to prevent her deportation. The government agreed to not deport her. Client and her three children are now authorized to be present in the United States.
  • Ben represented a central Iowa immigrant that was a victim of domestic violence. The immigration judge denied client’s motion to reopen an in absentia deportation order. Client appealed to the BIA, which overturned the IJ’s erroneous ruling, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Upon grant of U Visa, the case was terminated.
  • Ben represented a central African immigrant who had fled extreme violence in his home country.  He and his wife separated, each taking half of the children and fleeing the country in different routes in order to help assure the survival of at least part of his family.  Thankfully, everyone in his family survived, but his wife had come as a refugee to the United States, while he had been a refugee in Europe.  Ben was able to successfully reunite the family in the United States.
  • In the Omaha Immigration Court, client sought and was granted cancellation of removal, meaning he will become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and was released from custody. Client had two United States citizen children and one United States citizen step-daughter. Children suffered abuse and neglect at the hands of their mother, and were handicapped by the abuse and neglect. Judge commended the client’s willingness to stay in custody for six months for the opportunity to care for his children.
  • The government sought to remove client, a lawful permanent resident, for a Minnesota criminal conviction. In coordination with a colleague in Minnesota, the criminal conviction was amended, and the immigration judge terminated the case.
  • After trial in the immigration court, Client was granted cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents. Had client lost, client would have been deported to Bosnia, a county in which he had not lived since he fled as a refugee at age six.
  • At the Board of Immigration Appeals. The government appealed the immigration judge’s grant of cancellation of removal. The BIA upheld the judge’s grant. Client will become lawful permanent resident.
  • A young man hired Ben to assist him with an immigration matter. He had tried to handle his case without an attorney, but was about to lose his case. USCIS had stated they were not going to give him his green card. He then hired Ben, who informed USCIS that their view of the case was erroneous. USCIS was convinced by Ben’s argument, and the client received his green card!
  • Ben assisted a West African immigrant in becoming a lawful permanent resident and terminating his deportation case.
  • Ben has assisted numerous clients with adjustment of status applications.
  • Ben has assisted numerous clients with U-Visa applications.  His success rate with U-Visa applications is extraordinarily high.
  • Ben has an extraordinarily high rate of success on applications for naturalization (becoming a US citizen).
  • Ben has won many cancellation of removal cases for his clients in immigration court, for both lawful permanent residents and non-LPR’s.

Personal Injury

  • Chase Burn v. James Sinclair:  Ben assisted a Polk County resident in a suit against a local attorney for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  A Polk County jury returned a verdict of $25,000.00 in compensatory damages and $25,000.00 in punitive damages.
  • State v. James Sinclair:  A No Contact Order was entered in a simple misdemeanor case involving the parties in the above-referenced case.  Ben assisted his client in moving to extend the No Contact Order, which was granted by the District Court.  Mr. Sinclair appealed and lost on appeal.
  • Ben Bergmann and Brandon Brown represented a southeast Iowa individual that was sexually assaulted in a southeast Iowa county jail.  The facts were quite horrific.  The parties reached a settlement prior to trial.
  • Ben represented a Wapello County resident that was assaulted by a police officer then charged with Interference with Official Acts.  In the criminal case for interference, Ben successfully filed a motion to dismiss. Ben then represented the individual on a lawsuit for police brutality, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  The parties reached a settlement before trial.
  • Ben represented a Bosnian woman in a claim of national origin discrimination against a central Iowa company.  The parties reached a confidential settlement prior to trial.
  • Ben represented a Liberian man in a claim national origin and race discrimination against a central Iowa manufacturer. The parties reached a confidential settlement prior to trial.
  • Ben represented a northeast Iowa farming operation in allegations that it had been defrauded by a company that offered to sell them a wind turbine.  Following many months of work, the farmers now have their wind turbine.
  • Ben represented a central Iowa family regarding a death by a firearm.  Ben reached a confidential settlement prior to trial.
  • Ben represented a Polk County resident of Liberian decent in a case of race discrimination and employment.  Following depositions, the parties reached a confidential settlement.
  • Ben was also able to represent a Hispanic woman with a claim of sex discrimination and reach a settlement in that case as well.
  • Bayron Monterroso v. Polk County Jail et al., U.S. District Court, S. Dist. of Iowa, Case No. 4:10-cv-00464-REL. Client alleged Polk County Jail staff violated his constitutional rights by unreasonably assaulting him. Client reached a confidential settlement.
  • Adrienne and Steven Daszkiewicz, individual and as parents and next friends of Tiffany Daszkiewicz v. Saydel Community School District et al., Polk Co. Case No. LACL120014. Parents of a nine-year old girl sued central Iowa community school district for failing to protect her from physical assaults from bullies. Clients reached a confidential settlement.
  • Maria Espinosa v. Quality Manufacturing Corporation, U.S. District Court, S. Dist. of Iowa, Case No. 4:10-cv-00339-JAJ. Client filed employment discrimination claim, alleging unwanted sexual advances from a co-employee. Client reached a confidential settlement.
  • Justino Calzada v. the City of Marshalltown et al., U.S. District Court, S. Dist. of Iowa, Case No. 4-09-cv-373. Client alleged central Iowa police officer violated his constitutional rights by unreasonably assaulting him during a traffic stop. Client reached a confidential settlement.
  • Mirsad Kajtazovic v. Quality Transport, LLC, Polk County Case No. LACL115033. Client sought unpaid wages under Iowa Code § 91A. Client reached a confidential settlement.
  • Jason Buck v. John Paul Haas, Polk County Case No. LACL116216. Client filed suit against Defendant, alleging Defendant stomped on Client’s head, cracking his cranium. Client reached a confidential settlement.

Family

  • Ben represented a central Iowa man relating to the custody of his child.  Extraordinarily, Ben convinced the court to grant his client sole, legal and physical custody of the child.
  • Ben represented a southern Iowa woman on a divorce including the partition of a farm.
  • Ben has successfully represented many Iowans in divorce and child custody cases.