Eastern Iowa Criminal Defense Attorneys

Backed by extensive experience & expertise in handling cases just like yours. Speak with our legal team now.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Criminal Defense: How Do You Confront A Piece Of Paper?

The "confrontation" referred to is the right guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause. This guarantees that anyone charged with a crime be "confronted with the witnesses against him." While this may seem obvious in some situations, such as when someone is not physically present, things are not always so clear.

Although the Confrontation Clause has been around since the Bill of Rights was passed, a major shift in how it is applied occurred in 2004. In the case of Crawford v. Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that "testimonial" statements are admissible only if the person who said them is unavailable and the accused had an earlier opportunity to cross-examine them (there is, of course, an exception where it can be shown that the accused caused the unavailability).

What is "testimonial"?

A problem arose from the fact that the Court did not define what "testimonial" means. The Court began to solve this in 2006 in Davis v. Washington. There, the Court ruled that a statement to 911 operators was not testimonial because it was made for the purpose of resolving an emergency, not as part of a police investigation.

This last point has become increasingly significant. In 2009, the Court ruled in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts that certificates of analysis in a drug case were testimonial: they were created for the purpose of prosecution, and the analysts who created them knew this. In addition, the Court noted that they were functionally the same as in-court testimony. In a similar case, Bullcoming v. New Mexico, from 2011, the Court ruled for the same reason that an analyst other than the one who prepared a blood-alcohol report could not testify without violating the accused's right to confrontation.

Iowa v. Kennedy

One place where this comes up in Iowa law is the certified abstracts of someone's driving record. The Iowa Supreme Court recently considered whether the admission of these documents violated the Sixth Amendment in the case of Iowa v. Kennedy, and ultimately concluded that it did not. The records were a summary of information that the government held anyway, since the Iowa Department of Transportation maintains driving records for anyone with a license.

On the other hand, an affidavit of mailing, which demonstrates when the Department of Transportation mailed someone a notice of suspension, is testimonial. In the same case, the Iowa Supreme Court noted that these records were created for the sole purpose of showing that a specific defendant knew that his license had been revoked. Since they were created for the purposes of a criminal trial, they are testimonial for the purposes of the Sixth Amendment and thus the defendant had a right to confront the person who prepared them.

Effect of a violation of the Confrontation Clause

This does not mean that someone's sentence is automatically thrown out where the Confrontation Clause was violated. Instead, the court must decide whether that was a basis for the jury's decision. If the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the violation had no effect on the verdict, then the sentence will be upheld in spite of the Sixth Amendment issue. This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the court must try to determine how the jury reached the conclusion that it did.

As you can see, there are many layers to the constitutional rights we often take for granted. If you have been charged with a crime, it is important that you seek out qualified representation as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.

  • Iowa Association of Justice
  • AAJ
  • DUI Defense Law
  • The Iowa State Bar Association

Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger 

Put Over 50 Years of Combined Trial Experience On Your Side 
  • J. Dean Keegan
  • Eric D. Tindal
  • Andrea D. Jaeger
  • J. Dean Keegan J. Dean Keegan


    Decades of Award-Winning Legal Service J. Dean Keegan was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. After high school, Dean served ...
    J. Dean  Keegan Photo
  • Eric D. Tindal Eric D. Tindal


    Highly Rated Criminal Defense in Iowa City Eric D. Tindal, attorney at Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, graduated from the University ...
    Eric D. Tindal Photo
  • Andrea D. Jaeger Andrea D. Jaeger


    Experienced Criminal Defense in the Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities Andrea D. Jaeger practices in federal and state courts, ...
    Andrea D. Jaeger Photo

See What Our Clients Have to say

  • Would recommend them to anyone.

    “Eric Tindal was the defense attorney on a serious case for someone I love. Throughout the case, Eric was a careful listener and a responsive communicator. But most importantly, he was HIGHLY effective ...”

    - Nora H.
  • I’m very grateful as well as appreciative for you representing me.

    “My name is Charles A. W. and I was represented by Andrea D. Jaeger of the law firm Keegan, Tindal, & Jaeger. And I must say that Andrea’s a very confident, charismatic woman in the courtroom. Her ...”

    - Charles W.
  • I am glad he was there to get my head out of the guillotine when I needed him and keep my record clean.

    “I was stopped for an OWI. Dean took things as far as he could with the appeals process, finding every way possible to keep me driving in the meantime (which I needed to do for my job). Dean argued the ...”

    - Ryan
  • My family and friends appreciate all you have done. Thank you.

    “Thank you, Andrea and Eric. You both did a great job and got me the best results possible in my situation. I would recommend your service to any in need of counsel and I am still amazed in the way ...”

    - Michael
  • Andrea Jaeger is the best defense attorney in the world.

    “Andrea Jaeger is the best defense attorney in the world. She gets the job done for her clients. She goes hard for the best results. She would always be my first choice of defense. She is very ...”

    - Orlando

SUCCESSFUL results for our clients

Protecting Your Freedom & Rights
  • 2nd Degree Sexual Abuse; 1st Degree Burglary Acquitted of Multiple Forcible Felonies
  • First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Causing Death Acquitted of First Degree Murder at Trial

    Henry County FECR005634. Attorney Tindal’s client was charged with First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Causing Death. Following a two week trial, the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charges Reduced, No Incarceration Imposed

    Muscatine County FECR056673. Vehicular Homicide was reduced to Involuntary Manslaughter. Total sentence was suspended.

  • Felony Drug Charges Charges Dismissed

    Muscatine County FECR050038. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with two counts of controlled substance violation, as well as two counts of failure to affix tax stamp. After a year of court appearances and negotiating with the prosecutor, all charges were dismissed with costs assessed to the State.

  • Carrying Weapons, Public Intoxication, & Disorderly Conduct Carrying Weapons & Public Intoxication Charges D

    Linn County AGCR108044. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with Carrying Weapons, Public Intoxication, and Disorderly Conduct. After plea negotiations with the State, Mr. Keegan was successful in dismissing the Carrying Weapons and Public Intoxication charges.

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges Dismissed

    Iowa County FECR010358. Attorney Tindal was able to show the Court that his client was detained in violation of his Constitutional rights and that the K9 utilized in the search was unreliable. Following hearing all charges were dismissed.

  • Operating While Intoxicated No Suspension of Driving Privileges
  • Second Degree Sexual Abuse and Other Charges Acquittal at Trial

    Johnson County FECR089277. The Defendant was charged with Second Degree Sexual Abuse and other charges. Following a one-week trial by Mr. Tindal, the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.

  • Embezzlement No Criminal Charges Filed

    Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa. An employee of a Cedar Rapids business accused of embezzling six million dollars was not charged criminally after the County Attorney agreed to abide by an agreement negotiated by Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerald Kinnamon in which the accused would pay two million dollars to the company.

  • Trafficking Stolen Weapons and Misdemeanor Theft Charge Dismissed

    Scott County FECR384046. The Defendant was charged with Trafficking Stolen Weapons and Misdemeanor Theft. The Court dismissed the felony following a Motion litigated by Mr. Tindal. The Defendant subsequently pled to the remaining misdemeanor.


Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger

Our Commitment to You
  • Our Attorneys Are well Respected Throughout Eastern Iowa

  • We Offer Free Consultations No Matter How Severe The Charge

  • Trial Attorneys With Successful Track Records In The Courtroom

  • Over 50 Years of Combined Experience In Criminal Defense with an Emphasis on OWI's

Keegan, tindal & Jaeger 

Start Your Free Consultation Now
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.