Colin Christopher Murphy
Drug Crime Attorney at West Des Moines, IA
also known as Trip Murphy
Licensed for 25 years
Virtual consultation available
I focus primarily on defending those accused of possessing, delivering, cultivating or manufacturing marijuana and other narcotics. I also specialize in helping individuals recover property that has been unlawfully seized through civil forfeiture, which allows Iowa law enforcement agencies to profit from large amounts of cash, firearms, vehicles and other property taken from innocent persons. A significant part of my practice includes representing those charged with alcohol and drug-impaired offenses, ranging from public intoxication to OWI to vehicular homicide.
Over the past three years, my cannabis law practice has grown to include counseling Iowa growers and businesses by providing legal planning, regulatory support, corporate guidance and compliance strategies to help navigate the rapidly evolving hemp and CBD space.
Another practice area that continues to grow is the right to acquire, possess and carry firearms in Iowa. I am a proud member of the USCCA, the premier concealed carry association in the United States, and strong advocate for the fundamental right to self defense and defense of others.
As a trial attorney, I've tried dozens of misdemeanor and felony cases to a jury and obtained dismissals of more than 140 other drug and OWI charges, including driver's licenses revocations, through successful pre-trial motions.
I take a keen interest in developing and litigating issues in traffic stops and other search and seizure contexts to expand the rights of the accused. Most recently, my efforts to overturn a search warrant based on information gathered during warrantless nighttime trash rips led to a landmark Iowa Supreme Court decision in State v. Wright, 961 N.W.2d 396 (Iowa 2021). The decision was the first to recognize the rejuvenated trespass doctrine in Iowa. By finding an expectation of privacy in garbage, the Court overturned a police tactic responsible for untold numbers of convictions during the past four decades. The decision is based on Iowa Constitutional grounds under article 1, section 8. I have since worked diligently to expand the scope of the trespass doctrine to K9 searches, the deployment of recording devices by confidential informants under the one-party consent rule in Iowa and other areas that have typically been analyzed under an expectation of privacy approach.
In response to Wright, the Iowa General Assembly codified a new law in 2022, Iowa Code section , which sought to reinstate the now-unconstitutional police practice of surreptitiously searching curbside garbage without a warrant. In what I believe to be the first ruling addressing the new law, the Iowa District Court for Boone County struck down the statute as unconstitutional in State v. Whaley, No. FECR115299, on September 28, 2022. Rather than appeal the ruling, however, the State dismissed the charges instead. This means the illegal police practice continues unabated until we can protect our gains under Wright before the Iowa Supreme Court.
As trial counsel in State v. Pals, 805 N.W.2d 767 (Iowa 2011), I challenged the voluntariness of a detained driver's consent to search his vehicle under the Iowa Constitution. The Pals decision is now one of the seminal cases on the issue of warrantless consent searches.
My knack for understanding and simply explaining complex scientific concepts such as infrared spectrophotometry in breath testing, headspace gas chromatography with flame ionization detection in blood and urine testing, statistical analysis and measurement uncertainty is well known throughout the defense bar. The same can be said for my work in exposing drug K9 "alerts" that were either false positives or otherwise cued by the handler. I am one of a few attorneys in the state who have successfully challenged a vehicle search based on these highly questionable "alerts."
I am twice published in the area of OWI defense. In 2014, I co-authored the first edition one of the few practice-specific treatises in the state, Iowa OWI Defense: The Law and Practice, published by Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company. I also wrote a chapter focusing on the use of indepedent forensic investigations, including crash data and blood alcohol analysis, in Defending DUI Vehicular Homicide Cases, 2013 ed. by Aspatore Books.
As an appellate lawyer, I have briefed and argued issues of constitutional and statutory importance before the Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals. In addition to Wright, I successfully argued Mitchell County v. Zimmerman, 810 N.W.2d 1 (Iowa 2012), in which a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court struck down a local road-protection ordinance as unconstitutional under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
I have been named a Great Plains Super Lawyer in the area of Criminal Defense for five years running (2018-2022).
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.