Iowa Domestic Violence
The state of Iowa imposes harsh penalties for the crime of domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse or domestic abuse assault. Any assault offense that occurs between intimate partners or family or household members is considered an act of domestic abuse assault and a conviction for such a crime carries a harsh punishment. If you have been charged with domestic abuse assault in Iowa, your first course of action should be to consult an experienced Iowa domestic violence defense attorney. With a reputable defense lawyer on your side, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.
Iowa Domestic Violence Law
There are two different sections of the Iowa Criminal Code that deal with acts of domestic violence or domestic abuse – Iowa Code § 708 (Assault) and Iowa Code § 236 (the Domestic Abuse Act). In Iowa, a person commits an assault when, without justification, he or she does any of the following:
a. Any act which is intended to cause pain or injury to, or which is intended to result in physical contact which will be insulting or offensive to another, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act.
b. Any act which is intended to place another in fear of immediate physical contact which will be painful, injurious, insulting, or offensive, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act.
c. Intentionally points any firearm toward another, or displays in a threatening manner any dangerous weapon toward another.
Domestic Abuse Assault – Iowa Criminal Code § 708.2A
Pursuant to Iowa Code § 708.2A, the crime of domestic abuse assault is defined as an assault which is domestic abuse as defined in Iowa Code § 236.2, meaning any of the following circumstances apply:
- The assault is between family or household members who resided together at the time of the assault.
- The assault is between separated spouses or persons divorced from each other and not residing together at the time of the assault.
- The assault is between persons who are parents of the same minor child, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time.
- The assault is between persons who have been family or household members residing together within the past year and are not residing together at the time of the assault.
- The assault is between persons who are in an intimate relationship or have been in an intimate relationship and have had contact within the past year of the assault.
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Abuse Assault
In the state of Iowa, the crime of domestic abuse assault is typically considered a simple misdemeanor for a first offense, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 30 days, a fine of up to $625, or both. However, if the domestic abuse assault causes bodily injury or mental illness, the crime is considered a serious misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,875. The crime of domestic abuse assault may be elevated to an aggravated misdemeanor in Iowa if the offender commits the assault with the intention of inflicting serious injury upon the other person, or uses or displays a dangerous weapon in connection with the assault. As an aggravated misdemeanor, the crime of domestic abuse assault is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to $6,250 (Iowa Code § 902.9).
For a second or subsequent domestic abuse assault offense, the classification of the crime (i.e. serious misdemeanor, aggravated misdemeanor) is enhanced, as are the associated criminal penalties. For instance, a second offense for a domestic abuse assault crime that would otherwise be classified as a simple misdemeanor may instead be classified as a serious misdemeanor, carrying more severe penalties. On a third or subsequent offense, a person accused of committing domestic abuse assault in Iowa can be charged with a Class D felony, a serious crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $7,500 (Iowa Code § 903.1). In addition to jail time, a person convicted of domestic abuse assault in Iowa may also be ordered to participate in a batterer’s treatment program for domestic abuse offenders.
Defense Against Domestic Abuse Charges
Defendants accused of committing acts of domestic violence or domestic abuse are treated harshly under the law, and with robust protections in place for alleged victims of domestic abuse, it is easy to feel like the odds are against you when faced with domestic violence charges in Iowa. However, it is important to remember that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and the prosecution can only get a guilty verdict in your case if they can prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. When you retain the services of a skilled domestic violence defense attorney, he or she can help you understand your legal options and defend you against the charges in court. The following are some possible defense strategies your attorney can use to challenge the accuracy of prosecution’s evidence:
- Self-defense or in defense of others – You acted the way you did because of an immediate threat to your safety or the safety of another person
- Mistaken identity – You have been incorrectly identified as the perpetrator of the crime
- Accidental injury – The injuries sustained by the victim were accidentally inflicted
- Illegal search and seizure – The evidence against you was collected during an illegal search
- False accusation – The alleged victim has filed a false claim of domestic abuse
How a Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
In the state of Iowa, if the police show up at your home and have probable cause to believe a domestic abuse incident has occurred, they can make an arrest, even if they don’t have a warrant. That means you could be arrested for domestic violence and face criminal charges, even if you did nothing wrong. If this situation applies to you and you want to avoid a life-changing domestic abuse conviction, you cannot rely on your innocence alone to beat the criminal charges. You need the expertise of an Iowa criminal defense attorney who specializes in domestic abuse cases. A knowledgeable domestic abuse defense lawyer can investigate the charges against you, negotiate with the prosecution and build a compelling defense in your case, all while ensuring that your legal rights are protected.