James Nelsen has dedicated his practice to representing good people who have found themselves in bad situations.  His approachable nature and desire to help people provides representation that is intended to reduce the stress of the current circumstance and ensure informative, insightful and effective counsel.  James provides client-centered, results-driven representation, works hard to achieve the best outcome for each client, is steadfast in seeking the best characteristics in his clients and has devoted himself to developing the best relationships with people, regardless of their circumstance.  


  • Since 2004, has practiced primarily in criminal defense in State and Federal Courts in Iowa.
  • Has successfully handled well in excess of a thousand criminal matters ranging from simple drug possession and misdemeanor domestic assault to high profile homicide, kidnapping, and drug offenses involving mandatory life sentences, and maintains the distinction of never having had a client receive a life sentence.
  • Licensed in State and Federal District Court in the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa and the 8th Circuit court of Appeals and Missouri.
  • Successfully tried cases in State and Federal court.
  • Regularly attends national training seminars to maintain
  • 2016 Top Ten in Iowa Criminal Defense for client satisfaction


  • James provides you with a framework of the case, and believes to craft a defense, you must know how to deconstruct a case.  In your initial strategy session, James will provide you with the elements, or facts, the Government must prove and focus on finding holes in their case and provide an initial model for effective representation;
  • James handles your problems effectively while answering questions and explaining the process.
  • He listens, offers his guidance, and provides you with options and advice, but with the understanding that the final decisions in the case ultimately rest with the client.
  • He is dedicated to a good client experience and the best possible outcome.
  • James will provide straightforward answers and won’t make empty promises.
  • His client centered approach, legal knowledge, and life experience provide results directed strategy which supports a proven track record of success.


  • Federal Drug Conspiracy/Distribution/Possession with Intent/Money Laundering
  • State Drug Conspiracy/Distribution/Possession with Intent/Drug possession
  • Federal and State Firearms violations
  • State violent crimes – Murder/Kidnapping/Sexual Abuse/ Robbery/Burglary
  • Vehicular Homicide
  • Assault/Domestic Assault
  • Sex offenses
  • OWI


  • Member: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer
  • Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you have questions and want answers about criminal allegations and want to know your options, contact James to set up a strategy session.

Seek qualified legal counsel following an arrest.

Arrange a confidential consultation with our criminal defense lawyer at 515-223-1012.

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