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Read on to learn how your lawyer should handle abuse and domestic violence in Iowa. In this article, we cover what abuse and domestic violence mean in Iowa, if domestic violence is considered a felony, and what to expect during a domestic violence case.

Domestic abuse is something you do not need to fight alone. If you are a victim of domestic violence in Iowa, you need to have an experienced domestic violence lawyer on your side. If you have been wrongfully accused of domestic abuse in Iowa, you should also seek an abuse defense lawyer in Iowa to fight the wrongful accusation. Whether you are the victim or the wrongfully accused, you have a right to competent legal representation and to be fully informed at all times by an attorney who is experienced in Iowa domestic abuse cases.  

Read on to learn how your lawyer should handle abuse and domestic violence in Iowa. In this article, we cover what abuse and domestic violence mean in Iowa, if domestic violence is considered a felony, and what to expect during a domestic violence case.

How Does Iowa Law Define Abuse?

Abuse definition: abuse is an umbrella term used to refer to many types of violence against a person. Abuse is a pattern of behavior by one person asserting power over another person that affects that other person negatively. Domestic violence, where a physical act is committed, is a type of abuse but there are other types of abuse that are also extremely damaging.  

Psychological abuse is an example of a non-physical type of abuse. Financial abuse is also a type of abuse that you can see within romantic or familial relationships. A few concrete examples of abuse would be your partner calling you on your cell phone several times over the course of an evening apart to check and see if you are where you said you would be or declaring that you cannot spend time with a certain friend or family member.  

How Does Iowa Law Define Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence definition: sometimes used interchangeably with domestic abuse, domestic violence is also referred to as intimate partner violence. When your partner either makes you afraid because they are going to hurt you (using threats) or actually hurts you physically. This can include rape, not allowing you to leave a room during a fight, drawing a firearm, slamming you into a wall or slapping or punching you.  

Iowa uses the term intimate partner violence when referring to domestic violence and abuse. Iowa melds the two terms. In Iowa if someone who you have a specific relationship with puts you in fear that they are about to commit a violent act against you or actually commits a violent act against you it is considered an act of domestic abuse or domestic violence.  

Is Domestic Violence A Felony In Iowa?

Iowa has two laws that cover domestic violence in the state. The first is a criminal code that addresses assault and the second is the Iowa Domestic Abuse Act.  

Domestic Violence Laws In Iowa

The first criminal law in Iowa for domestic violence is the one that addresses the issue of assault. Iowa Criminal Code 708 defines assault as physical contact that is insulting or can cause an injury. The code further defines assault as the threat of physical contact and the apparent ability to carry it out or using a weapon in a threatening manner. So according to the code, if someone commits any of these acts towards you, it is assault under Iowa law.  


The Iowa Criminal Code 236 is the state’s Domestic Abuse Act. It defines what a domestic relationship is and what the penalties are for being convicted of domestic abuse under the Act. Under Iowa law, the following qualifies as a domestic relationship:

  • If you are married, divorced from or separated from that person
  • If you have lived together in the past year
  • If you have a  child together, regardless of living arrangements
  • If you have been in an intimate relationship in the past year

Conviction of domestic assault can mean, among other things; jail time, a criminal record, protective orders and potentially victim compensation. Iowa defines the first instance of domestic assault as a misdemeanor, depending on its severity and long-term effects on the victim, usually with a mandatory one to two day stay in jail and fines. Second time offenders are usually found guilty of aggravated misdemeanor, with another one to two days in jail and fines. Third time offenders are guilty of a Class D felony with up to five years of jail time and fines.  

What To Expect From Your Lawyer In The Event Of Domestic Violence

From The Victims Perspective:

First and foremost, if there is a criminal complaint made by the victim in Iowa it starts with reporting the domestic violence to the police, and then the county attorney will pursue the charges if there is sufficient evidence of the domestic violence. Even if the victim later retracts their complaint, the county attorney may still decide to pursue it regardless of what the victim says after the incident.  

If you have been the victim of domestic abuse in Iowa you have the right to be represented by a competent domestic abuse lawyer who can guide you through the steps necessary to ensure your protection. Additionally, if you have family that is being threatened by the abuser your attorney will need to make sure that any temporary or long term protective order that the court enters includes those family members. If you have children with the abuser your attorney will need to make sure that they are physically placed with you and that any visitation with the abuser is supervised.  

Getting an order of protection is only the first step. That order will need to be monitored and enforced and your attorney can assist you with that. If there are hearings with the state as prosecutor against the abuser, your attorney should accompany you to the hearing or appear on your behalf if going to court and confronting the abuser is too much to handle. Your attorney should be reasonably available to you to answer questions and address concerns.  

Another option following your domestic case is to enter a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.  

From The Accused Perspective:

If you have been wrongfully accused of domestic violence it is important that you seek representation as quickly as possible in order to protect your rights and to present your defense. A domestic violence conviction can seriously impact your future depending on the severity of the charge or if it is an alleged repeat offense. In Iowa a domestic violence charge is a criminal charge so it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If you have been the victim of domestic abuse please do not wait, reach out to someone for help immediately so that the abuse does not continue.

If you have been wrongfully accused of domestic abuse it is imperative that you retain experienced counsel to defend your rights in court so that you do not have to live with a record of domestic violence.  

If you have any questions about domestic abuse law in Iowa, please feel free to give our offices a call at (630)-324-6666, or fill out our confidential info form and a member of our team will get back to you shortly.

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