R. Ben StoneOf Counsel
Ben Stone prides himself on maintaining a special relationship with his clients. He is attentive to each one, and seeks to maintain constructive, two-way communications at all times. Regardless of what his clients need, he is determined to understand and do his zealous best to deliver them justice.
Mr. Stone grew up in West Des Moines, where he graduated from Valley High School. After receiving his B.S. degree in history from Iowa State University, he taught middle school in Illinois before returning to ISU to earn his M.A. in history, with a minor in philosophy. He then led a statewide student association for several years before entering law school at Drake University. After earning his J.D. with honors, he became an associate at Parrish Kruidenier before assuming the helm of the Iowa ACLU. He has been practicing law at Parrish since 2014.
Mr. Stone has also regularly taught college part-time for nearly 25 years. He has served as an adjunct instructor in Constitutional Law, Moral Philosophy and Logic at Des Moines Area Community College, American History at Drake University, and Communications Law at Simpson College.
As a volunteer activist, he has served on the state board of directors of One Iowa, Iowans Against the Death Penalty, and was the Chair of the Board of Christian Social Action at Plymouth Church in Des Moines. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Plymouth.
Mr. Stone lives in West Des Moines with his wife and three children.
August 2019: Attorney Ben Stone recently represented a young woman facing the charge of Assault While Displaying a Dangerous Weapon, an aggravated misdemeanor, as well as a simple misdemeanor charge of Interference with Official Acts. In preparation for trial, he filed for discovery, obtaining various police body camera videos and photographs. Stone then subpoenaed for depositions the three witnesses in the case. However, one witness had left the state, one was in jail in another county, and the other failed to show up. Mr. Stone’s client chose to plead to the simple misdemeanor interference charge in exchange for the dismissal of her aggravated assault charge. She paid a fine and court costs, with no jail time.
July 2019: Ben Stone’s young client had been charged with Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon, a Class “C” felony worth 10 years in prison. After seeking discovery and visiting the crime scene, Mr. Stone engaged with the prosecutor, who agreed that the accused could plead to the Class “D” lesser-included Intimidation charge worth potentially only 5 years, but that the State would likely argue at sentencing for prison. When the presentence investigation report recommended probation with residential placement at the Fort Des Moines correctional facility, the State nonetheless sought to have the Defendant sentenced to prison. At the end of the sentencing hearing, Mr. Stone, who had filed a sentencing brief with the court, was successful in helping convince the judge that his 19 year-old client should be sent to Fort Des Moines rather than prison.
May 2019: Ben Stone’s client, a young woman with no criminal record of any kind, faced a felony charge of Domestic Abuse Assault Impeding Air Flow, a Class “D” felony, as well as Harassment in the First Degree, an aggravated misdemeanor, and Domestic Assault Causing Injury, a serious misdemeanor. All in all, she faced eight years in prison, and was now homeless due to the mandatory no contact order.
After his effort at dismissal or reduction of the charges at the preliminary hearing was unsuccessful, Mr. Stone filed Notice of Self-Defense and sought discovery. He also secured a private investigator. He then set depositions for his client’s two accusers, but first had to seek a missing police video. After the State promptly provided the missing video, Mr. Stone conducted the depositions with the objective of attacking the credibility of his client’s accusers.
A few days before trial was set to begin, at the request of his young client, Mr. Stone went to the State with an offer to plead guilty to an amended charge of simple disorderly conduct in exchange for the dismissal of all the other charges and no jail time. They sought and received a deferred judgment for her as well. Finally, Mr. Stone urged the court to waive the repayment of attorney fees, as his client worked at a fast food restaurant and so did not have a reasonable ability to pay those fees.
January 2019: Attorney R. Ben Stone’s very young adult client was charged with an aggravated misdemeanor for possession of child pornography, as well as a serious misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge. He faced two and a half years in prison on these charges, along with a Tier II designation on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry (ISOR). From a separate incident, he also faced two simple misdemeanors (for theft & disorderly conduct) and a serious misdemeanor assault charge.
Mr. Stone urged the county attorney to consider amending the child pornography charge to dissemination of obscene material to a minor, a serious misdemeanor that would recognize the nature of the harm to the victim, while moving the defendant from Tier II to Tier I, a less burdensome designation with the ISOR. Ultimately, his client pled guilty to the two simple misdemeanors, as well as the amended serious misdemeanor dissemination charge; the two serious misdemeanors for assault and possession of marijuana were dismissed. He was sentenced to one year of probation, with a five-year no contact order protecting the victim.
December 2018: Attorney Ben Stone’s client, who had never faced any kind of criminal charge in her life, faced a felony child endangerment allegation in regard to her stepson. In her defense, he deposed three of the state’s witnesses, which helped expose weaknesses in the State’s case. The State eventually made a second plea offer, which Mr. Stone urged his client to decline. On the eve of trial, the charge was dismissed with prejudice.
October 2018: Attorney Ben Stone’s client faced a serious misdemeanor Criminal Trespass charge. The state offered 30 days in jail, and a $650 fine, plus restitution. After reviewing discovery, he learned his client, an older homeless man, had his cat “impounded” by the police the day he was arrested. After making a number of phone calls to a local animal shelter, Mr. Stone managed to return the cat to his client, while also securing an agreement to plead to simple trespass, with restitution, a $65 fine, and no jail.
September 2018: Attorney Ben Stone recently represented a man charged with Interference with Official Acts While Armed and Carrying a Concealed Weapon – both Class “D” felonies worth five years each. If it were not for his client’s possession of a pistol for which he had a valid permit to carry, his client would have only faced an Interference Simple Misdemeanor. Mr. Stone, who believed this to be a good Second Amendment case, filed for discovery, and after viewing the police videos with his client, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Carrying Weapon charge, and prepared for a jury trial. As the trial approached, the State agreed to allow Mr. Stone’s client to plead to the lesser simple interference charge, and dismissed the Carrying Weapons charge. His client did not become a felon and avoided jail or prison, while paying only a $65 fine plus court costs.
April 2018: Ben Stone’s client confronted a charge of Theft in the Second Degree, a Class “D” felony, increased on a Habitual Offender enhancement to a mandatory minimum of 15 years, for a total of 20 years. After rejecting the State’s plea offer to just the 5 years for the D felony, with the habitual being dropped, the decision was made instead to depose the alleged victim. When he failed to appear for the deposition, the case was dismissed without prejudice.
February 2018: Over the course of recent months, attorney Ben Stone managed the criminal cases of five clients to dismissal. Among these dismissals was a case where it was agreed that if his client stayed out of trouble for three months, her disorderly conduct charge would be dismissed. In another, after his client completed an assaultive behavior class, the state dropped the charges. In yet another, after Mr. Stone recommended his client reject the state’s plea offer and take the case to jury trial, the charges were dismissed with prejudice a few days later.
In a small town in south central Iowa, a woman stood formally charged with Assault on a Peace Officer, a serious misdemeanor. After Ben Stone, her attorney, filed for discovery and reviewed the video in her case, he determined there was evidence the officer may have acted with excessive force as he arrested her. Ultimately, it was agreed she could plead guilty to mere simple assault, for which she received probation.
A man faced 20 years in prison on a possession of meth charge with a habitual offender enhancement. His attorney, Ben Stone, filed a motion to suppress the evidence against his client, arguing that the police had violated his client’s Fourth Amendment rights in three separate and distinct ways. On the eve of the hearing set on Mr. Stone’s motion to suppress, the state offered to reduce the charges to a simple misdemeanor with no jail sentence. Ultimately, ALL charges were dismissed with prejudice without a hearing.
Ben Stone’s client, a recent standout high school football player who had been arrested five separate times in the previous 11 months, appeared to be in serious jeopardy of being revoked from probation and sentenced to his original four year prison sentence. But upon learning of previously undisclosed mental health concerns, Mr. Stone worked to delay the hearing until his client’s probation officer could get to the courthouse. Working closely with the father of his client, he helped convince the county attorney and the court to place the young man with mental health probation services rather than prison.
To speak with defense attorney R. Ben Stone, call 515/284-5737, or email him at [email protected] One can leave a message after business hours at 515/283-3651.
REPRESENTATIVE CASES – PRIOR TO 2018:
- Over the course of nine months, I represented a young woman with an extensive criminal history of drug abuse and crimes related to that abuse. I represented her on both a felony drug charge, as well as a probation revocation case. To her credit, she gained admittance to long-term residential substance abuse programs in northern and western Iowa. I helped convince the judges and the county attorneys involved to allow time for his client to demonstrate her commitment to sobriety, as well as to understand a few setbacks she experienced. In the end, I helped her receive a suspended sentence on her felony charge, while avoiding prison in her probation revocation case.
- I represented a 17-year old man charged with possessing a firearm on campus, which is a Class D felony automatically moved to adult court. I filed an extensive sentencing brief arguing that a deferred judgment with probation was a better and more appropriate punishment than a suspended sentence, which is what the state was seeking as a sentence. The judge granted the young man a deferred judgment despite an extensive juvenile record of delinquency and school disruption and misbehavior, thus permitting him the chance to avoid becoming a felon if he can successfully complete probation.
- My client faced a serious misdemeanor charge of Domestic Assault Causing Bodily Injury. The state’s plea offer involved his client pleading guilty to the reduced charge of simple assault, with a $65 fine. Instead of accepting the offer, I filed a Motion to Produce, and after reviewing the documents provided by the prosecutor, advised his client to go to trial. The charge was dismissed with prejudice less than a week before trial, sparing the client both a conviction, as well as the cost of repaying the state for his attorney fees.
- A Polk County man was arrested for felony domestic assault after he had filed an appeal bond in a separate OWI case. I became his lawyer. First the county attorney filed a motion to force him back to jail for violating the conditions of the appeal bond. I resisted at a hearing, and the judge ultimately refused to act on the State’s motion, and my client remained free. Meanwhile in the assault case, I first filed a motion to produce, then a motion to dismiss. Ten days before trial, the case was dismissed with prejudice. However, the dismissal order required the client to reimburse the State for the cost of his attorney fees. Using recent case law, I filed a motion to reconsider the sentencing order. Ultimately, the court revised its order removing the requirement that the Defendant repay the state for his attorney fees, thus saving him more than a thousand dollars.
- My client originally faced 12 years in prison on charges of Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon, a Class “C” felony, as well as Carrying Weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor. At the preliminary hearing, I aggressively questioned the police witness such that the judge became convinced that the state had failed to establish probable cause for the C felony charge — ruling instead that the state had only established probable cause for the lesser “D” felony version of Intimidation. The state declined to formally charge even the D felony when it filed its Trial Information. My client ultimately received a two-year suspended sentence on the carrying weapons charge only
- My homeless client was charged with Harassment in the 1st Degree, an aggravated misdemeanor. Due to a nearly identical, very recent prior conviction, the client remained in custody awaiting trial. The initial plea offer was for 90 days as charged, which was rejected. After filing a Motion to Produce and Notice of Intent to Conduct Depositions, as well as making some phone calls, I obtained a plea to Harassment in the 2nd Degree, a serious misdemeanor, with 48 days credit for time served and no fine.
- I recently represented a man on a disorderly conduct charge. After I filed several pretrial motions, including a subpoena for a witness the state no longer wanted to see testify, the charge was dismissed with prejudice. But when the judge ordered the client to pay attorney fees on the dismissed charge, I filed a motion demanding the judge reconsider, citing very recent case law forbidding the state from collecting court costs or attorney fees from defendants with dismissed cases. The judge filed a revised order, removing the provision for repayment of costs and attorney fees, saving my client over $700 in costs.
- One of my clients was facing a felony criminal mischief charge, a public intoxication charge, and a probation violation. A piece of equipment at a bar supposedly worth thousands had been damaged, and it was alleged the defendant had deliberately damaged it while drunk. My client eventually pled to only the misdemeanor public intoxication charge, with the felony criminal mischief being dismissed, and restitution at only $500. On the probation violation, I eventually got the contempt sentence reduced from 15 days to only five – enabling the client to keep his new job.
- I represented a man accused of participating in a conspiracy regarding forged checks. At the preliminary hearing, I argued to the court that the State had insufficient evidence to justify the charge, emphasizing that merely being friends with and hanging around the other accused persons did not constitute participation in a conspiracy. At the conclusion of the hearing, my client was the only one out of the four charged to have his charge dismissed by the judge.
- I recently convinced the prosecutor to dismiss felony assault and child endangerment charges against my client. Because of the significant collateral consequences faced by my client if he were to be found guilty, I declined to seek a plea offer and instead sought discovery and prepared to go to trial on the original charges. A few days before the case was to go before a jury, the state moved to dismiss the charges without costs to the defendant. The judge ultimately agreed to dismiss all charges, and Mr. Stone’s client was released from custody.
- “Understanding Police Use of Force,” a debate with former FBI special agent Alicia Hilton. Drake Law School. Sponsored by The Federalist Society and American Constitution Society of Drake Law School. April 25, 2016.
- Obergefelle v. Hodges: A Debate on Gay Marriage Decision with Senior Fellow from Cato Institute, Sponsored by The Federalist Society and American Constitution Society of Drake Law School. September 9, 2015.
- “Recent Developments in the Reasonable Use of Force” – Debate with U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Blackstone Inns of Court, Hoyt Sherman Place, May 14, 2015.
- “Criminal justice debt creates permanent underclass,” Op-Ed, Des Moines Register, May 13, 2015.