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Kevin O'Flaherty

Criminal laws in Iowa have no significant changes for 2024, however, a few changes took effect in 2022. These changes range from big to minor tweaks to existing criminal charges. The most profound changes have affected gun rights and related weapons charges. This article will go over some of the most significant changes that have gone into effect for Iowa Criminal Law. The most significant changes are summarized below.  

Do I Still Need a Permit to Acquire a Pistol or Revolver?  

The old requirement that requires a person to obtain a permit to acquire a pistol or revolver is gone. What is now required to purchase a pistol/revolver is a satisfactory national instant criminal background check. The new law does, however, add a felony charge for the transfer of a pistol/revolver to a person that is ineligible to possess dangerous weapons.  

Concealed carry Iowa

Is the Requirement for Permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon Removed?

There was a requirement to reach out to your local sheriff's office and get a permit to carry a firearm. If you did not have one, you could have been charged with carrying weapons. This requirement was eliminated, and the possibility of being charged with the crime of carrying weapons due to not having a valid permit to carry. Iowans are now free to carry firearms to one person or in a vehicle without first obtaining a permit.    

What is the Crime of Carrying Weapons?  

Carrying Weapons will be replaced with a new offense called Use of a Dangerous Weapon in the Commission of a Crime. The new charge requires that the person use the dangerous weapon to commit a crime, not just have it on them or their person.    

New Charges Created Based on Ineligibility to Carry Dangerous Weapons

While carrying a dangerous weapon on one's person is no longer a crime. Having a firearm while committing a separate indictable offense or illegally possessing a controlled substance is a new criminal charge.  

What is the New Duty to Cooperate?

The new gun law imposes upon an individual an affirmative duty when carrying a dangerous weapon to cooperate with an investigating police officer if their behavior creates a reasonable suspicion that the person presents a danger to themselves or others.  

Some Prior Offenders' Rights Restored  

The new law allows an individual who has prior convictions to regain their gun rights. They can regain their firearms rights to be restored if they meet specified conditions, one of which is that the person's conviction for a disqualifying offense is expunged.  

Most Interesting Was This Language in the Recent Gun Law Changes:

Sec. 6. Section SA.322, subsection 3, Code 2021, is amended as follows: 3. The director shall establish, publish, and enforce rules regulating and restricting the use by the public of the capital buildings and grounds and the state laboratories facility in Ankeny. The rules, when established, shall be posted in conspicuous places about the capital buildings and grounds and the state laboratories facility, as applicable. Any person violating any rule, except a parking regulation, shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor. The rules shall prohibit a person other than a peace officer from openly carrying a pistol or revolver in the capital building and on the grounds surrounding the capital building, including state parking lots and parking garages. However, this subsection shall not be construed to allow the director to prohibit the lawful carrying, transportation, or possession of any pistol or revolver in the capitol building and, on the grounds, surrounding the capitol building, including state parking lots and parking garages by any person regardless of whether the person has a valid permit to carry weapons.    

This means that previously firearms were banned from the capitol building. The law states that rules can be established, and if you violate them, it is a simple misdemeanor, but they cannot be outright banned.  

Additionally, the relaxation of the previous rules does not apply to minors. The following amendments are now in force.  

724.4E Possession of dangerous weapons and loaded firearms by minors. 1. A minor who goes armed with a dangerous weapon concealed on or about the person commits a serious misdemeanor. 2. A minor who carries, transports, or possesses a loaded firearm of any kind within the limits of a city or knowingly carries or transports a pistol or revolver in a vehicle commits a serious misdemeanor. 3. A minor who goes armed with a dangerous weapon that directs an electric current impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person, whether concealed or not, commits a simple misdemeanor.  

There were many small changes to existing criminal offenses and new charges generated.

Iowa criminal law

Change in Status of Electronic Bicycles  

It was possible before 2022 to receive a citation for driving an electric bicycle on public roadways. With the passage of Bill: HF 493, the State of Iowa has changed that with some caveats. Iowa now defines low-speed electric bicycles and sets out classes of these bikes. In each classification where each type of bike can be operated. The law sets out very clearly that electric bikes are not included in the definition of a vehicle under Iowa law. The law's essential requirement for someone who wants to utilize an electric bike is the required label that sets out the classification number, top assisted speed, and wattage.

Change In The Status Of Who Is Required To Get An Interlock Device

In 2022, anyone who receives an OWI and wants a temporary restricted license needs to have an ignition interlock device installed. This drops the requirements for only being able to drive to and from work or school.  

Now, after the 1st offense of OWI, an ignition interlock device is only required on any vehicle operated by the person who received a driver's license revocation. See our update on OWI in 2022 for more information on this.    

Change in Disorderly Conduct:  

There was a change in the language of disorderly conduct, restricting who can be charged. With the old law: A person could be charged with disorderly conduct previously for; "loud a raucous noise in the vicinity of a residence or public building which causes unreasonable distress to the occupants."  

With the new law:  

Anyone who Makes loud and raucous noise in the vicinity of any residence or public building that intentionally or recklessly causes unreasonable distress to the occupants.:  

This section of the disorderly conduct charge was typically used to address belligerent and intoxicated individuals who were causing some scene outside a residence or in front of a public building. The legislature file regarding the bill appears that the intent was to restrict the situations where this charge applies. However, there is no comment about what situation they were hoping to reduce or address. Without any further context, this amendment appears to give a defense to the most typical cases seen if an argument can be made there was no intent to cause distress.  

The Definition of "Sex Act" was Expanded under Iowa Law SF 172

In SF 172, the bill expanded the definition of "sex act" to include any contact between the mouth/anus of two or more persons, contact between the finger, hand, or any part of a person and the genitalia or anus of another person. In SF 172, exceptions were added: the new definition did not include contact made by licensed professionals for examination or treatment.  

Sex Offense Statute of Limitation

Previously the statute of limitations was 15 years after the age of majority on offenses involving alleged sexual abuse of a minor. There is no statute of limitation on any offenses involving alleged sexual abuse of a minor.  

Sex abuse Language expansion:

This law seems to be an effort to address someone of the confusion when the sexual abuse occurred from school volunteers or people associated with schools who did not fit typical roles, teacher, coach, counselor, or therapist. The language below was added.  

Adult providing training or instruction means an adult who is not a school employee who provides paid training or instruction to a minor outside of a school setting.  

Sexual Abuse Age Modifications

In Senate Bill 253, there was a modification to the definition of second-degree meant sexual abuse is. In the previous law, it was defined as involving a child under 12 years of age. Senate bill 253 changes it to be considered second-degree meant sexual abuse when the other party is a child age 14 or under.    

Police line do not cross

What New Criminal Charges Went into Effect In 2023?

Failure to Assist: SF 243 (Noah Herring's Law)  

Senate File 243 makes it a crime to fail to disclose the location of a body with the intent to conceal a crime.  

The Senate File 243 was introduced in response to the death of Noah Herring at the Coralville Reservoir last summer. Herring drowned on April 7, 2020. Four people were present when he died. None of them called 911, and they withheld information about his whereabouts. Herring's body was eventually recovered four days later.  

In direct response to that situation and the outrage, Senate File 243 makes it a crime for anyone who witnesses someone else suffering from imminent danger of death or risk of severe injury and fails to contact authorities is now guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor. Anyone who doesn't disclose the location of a body to hide a crime is now committing a Class D felony.  

Under Senate Bill 243, a person who believes someone is at risk of serious bodily injury or imminent danger of death shall contact local law enforcement or medical services. Suppose they don't call for help, and the person does suffer serious bodily injury. In that case, they are guilty of a simple misdemeanor. If they don't help and the person dies, they are guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.  

Child Endangerment Committed by a Sex Offender HF 710

Under House Bill 710, a new class "D" felony child endangerment offense was created. The offense applies when an individual who has to register as a sex offender knowingly has control or unsupervised access to a minor.    

New charges around agricultural facilities HF 775

In House Bill 775, new criminal offenses related to clandestine activities in agricultural production facilities were created.  

When a person knowingly enters private property without the consent of the owner and gathers bodily fluids or any substances from the agricultural animals; any product from an agricultural animal; or soil, air, surface water, or groundwater from land or structures used for the production of an agricultural animal or the production of an agricultural crop. In 2022, it is now an aggravated misdemeanor for the first offense and a class "D" felony for any subsequent offenses after the first one.  

In House bill 775, an additional crime was created for a person who commits a trespass who knowingly places/uses a camera or any surveillance device that records while the device is on the trespassed property. Any person who does this commits an aggravated misdemeanor for a first offense. House bill 775 additionally makes subsequent offenses a Class "D" felony.  

Child Endangerment Committed by a Sex Offender Bill: HF 710

Under House Bill 710, a new class "D" felony child endangerment offense was created. The offense applies when a person, who is required to register as a sex offender, knowingly has control or unsupervised access to a minor.    

Defrauding a Drug or Alcohol Test HF 283

In House Bill 283, a new crime of defrauding a drug or alcohol test was created. The law sets out this charge to address any actions by a person when undergoing a drug/alcohol test given in a private-sector workplace and a public employer to pass when they should not have.  Read our article Do you have to take a BAC test? For more information on implied consent in Iowa.

For a first offense, it is a simple misdemeanor. Each subsequent offense after is a serious misdemeanor.  

The law details all the activities that are not prohibited related to this:  

  • Manufacturing, marketing, selling, distributing, using, or possessing synthetic urine or a urine additive for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol test;  
  • Knowingly use the person's urine expelled or withdrawn before the collection of a urine sample from the person for a drug or alcohol test to defraud a drug or alcohol test; and  
  • Knowingly using another person's urine to defraud a drug or alcohol test.  
Road alcohol and drug test

Murder in the 2nd Degree for Dependent Adult Abuse SF 450

Senate file 450 sets out that a caretaker who intentionally or recklessly commits dependent adult abuse on a dependent adult will be guilty of murder in the second degree.  

Sexual Abuse Committed During a Burglary Now Has a Special Sentence HF 231  

In House file 231, there was a lifetime "special sentence" for sexual abuse committed during the commission of a burglary. House file 231 states that if a person commits first-degree burglary during which that person performs or participates in a sex act that constitutes sexual abuse, that person shall also be sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole.  

Iowa auto accident

Minor Changes To Some Criminal Charges

Abuse of a Human Corpse – was changed from a Class D Felony to a Class C Felony.  

If traveling at speeds of 25 mph or more over the speed limit, it is now possible to be found guilty of a Class "C" felony if a person is subsequently killed. If traveling at those speeds and you cause someone a serious injury, you can be found guilty of a Class "D" felony.  

Changes were made to leaving the scene of the accident. "Any driver of a vehicle who knows or has reason to believe" that the driver's vehicle was involved in an accident-causing injury or death, the driver must stop, remain, or return to the scene. If they leave the scene, they must call 911 and provide certain accident information "as soon as reasonably possible."  

For further information regarding these or any other criminal law and criminal defense matters you have, call our office at (630) 324-6666, or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers. You can also fill out our confidential contact form, and we will get back to you shortly.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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