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Kevin O'Flaherty

Iowa saw no significant changes to its restraining order laws in 2024. However, if you are seeking a restraining order or are named in a restraining order, it’s important to understand your rights and how the law works in Iowa. Restraining orders are an important legal tool that can provide protection against unsafe individuals but should never be used in an inappropriate context.  

What Are Restraining Orders In Iowa?

In Iowa, what many people consider restraining orders are called no-contact orders. Courts can issue No-contact orders in Iowa among two parties for two sets of circumstances. Those two circumstances are that a criminal charge occurred between the two parties, or one party sought a civil no-contact order against the other party.  

Restraining order document

Criminal No-Contact Orders

The first type of no-contact order in Iowa is when there is a criminal charge pending. The nature/ circumstances of the charge warrant a no-contact order between the two parties. The court will issue a contact order between the criminal defendant and the victim in these situations.  

The court will typically issue a no-contact order on the following criminal charges;  

  • Domestic abuse  
  • Assault  
  • Harassment  
  • Theft  
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Trespass

What Does Having A Criminal No-Contact Order Mean For The Defendant?

The no-contact order will require that the defendant have no contact:

  • With the alleged victim and residence
  • Any person residing with the victim
  • Any of the victim's immediate family

The defendant will be ordered not to attempt contact with the protected party through third parties. A criminal no-contact order, when a domestic violence charge is involved, will require the defendant to relinquish;  

  • All firearms
  • Offensive weapons
  • Ammunition

What Does Iowa Consider Domestic Violence?

Iowa considers any violence that occurs between the following persons as domestic abuse;  

  • Any violence between family or household members who lived together at the time of the violence or within the past year.  
  • Spouses who are divorced or separated.  
  • Any two people who have children together regardless of if they have ever lived together.  
  • Any two people in or have been in an intimate relationship within the past year.  

Can A Defendant Have the Criminal No-Contact Order Removed?

A Defendant subject to a criminal no-contact order can contest the conditions of a no-contact order and request it be modified or terminated. Typically, even if there are valid reasons for the court to modify a criminal no-contact order, it will remain in effect until the case's outcome.  

A criminal no-contact order, once issued, will remain in effect until it is modified or terminated by subsequent court action. At the final deposition of the criminal charge, the court will continue, modify, or terminate the criminal no-contact order based on how the criminal charge resolves and the parties' desires.  

What Steps Can Be Taken To Protect Yourself And Gather Evidence Of A Violation Of A Criminal No-Contact Order?

Once the criminal no-contact order is in place, the victim will have to be proactive in reporting any offense immediately to the police through 911. The ideal circumstance is that the police catch the defendant in violating the no-contact order. The victim can help ensure any violation of their criminal no-contact order is punishable by the court by;  

  • Taking photos or videos of the defendant violating the criminal no-contact order.
  • Saving any recordings of calls or text messages the defendant sends to the victim.
  • Giving the names of any witnesses to the violation by the defendant to the police.  

What Happens After A Violation Of A Criminal No-Contact Order Occurs?

Suppose a violation of a no-contact order occurs. The defendant will be arrested and taken to the county jail to await an appearance in front of a magistrate. When in front of the magistrate, the court will determine if the defendant can be released from jail based on the nature and circumstances of the violation.  

The court has three options of what to do:  

  • Release the Defendant from jail –reminding the defendant that the criminal no-contact is in place
  • Set a bail for the defendant that they must pay before their release
  • Hold the defendant until their trial on the matter  

The defendant has a right to have a trial on the violation of the no-contact order within five days but no more than 15 days after the arrest on the violation of the no-contact order. Suppose the no contact order is pled to, or the defendant is found guilty of the violating. In that case, they will serve a minimum of 7 days in jail that has to be served consecutively. Depending on the circumstances of the no-contact order violation, the defendant may serve up to 30 days per unique occurrence of a no-contact order violation. No portion of the sentence may be suspended or deferred. A fine may be imposed on top of the jail sentence. The defendant will not only receive a fine in lieu of a jail sentence if found guilty of any criminal no-contact order violation.  

Court proceediings

Who Enforces The Criminal No-Contact Order If Any Violations Occur?

Regarding criminal no-contact orders, the police, if they witness it or have enough evidence, will arrest the defendant upon notice of the violation. The County Attorney’s office in the county where the offense occurred will be the responsible party who enforces the no-contact order and seeks the defendant's punishment in criminal no-contact orders.  

Civil No-Contact Orders

The second type of no-contact order in Iowa is the civil no-contact order, called orders of protection. These are no-contact orders that can be sought by victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. The criminal no-contact order typically relies on a pending criminal charge. The civil no-contact order does not depend on a criminal charge.  

How Does One Get A Civil No-Contact Order?

The victim needs to file a petition with the court requesting the civil no-contact order. These petitions requesting a civil no-contact order typically detail what abuse occurred, the relationship between the parties, and if there are any children involved.  

After The Petition Is Filed With The Court, What Happens?

Once a petition is filed, it will be assigned to a judge for review. Suppose that judge believes that abuse, as listed in the petition, has occurred. In that case, the judge will issue a temporarily civil no-contact order. The matter will then be set for a hearing for the other party to contest the civil no-contact order. The judge will also notify the police of the civil no-contact order so they can serve notice on the other party that they are to have no contact with the victim.    


What Happens At The Hearing For The Civil No-Contact Order?

The permanent civil no-contact order hearing is conducted like an informal trial, as there is no jury. However, the protected party will be expected to present evidence and testify to the abuse that occurred. At the petition stage, the abuser does not have the ability to present or attack the allegations against them. The abuser will be able to cross-examine and present their evidence that civil no-contact order is not needed.  

After the hearing, if they believe the abuse occurred, the judge will order that the civil no-contact order will be in effect for one year or terminate the temporary civil no-contact order.  

What Happens After The Year For The Civil No-Contact Order?

The victim can request that the court extend the civil no-contact order.  

What Is Unique About the Civil No-Contact Order Vs. The Criminal No-Contact Order?

In a civil no-contact order, the judge can address visitation of any children, any shared property, and custody of any animals shared between the two parties.    

Who Enforces The Civil No-Contact Order If Any Violations Occur?

The County Attorney has no standing to enforce these violations of civil no-contact orders. The victim protected by the civil no-contact order has to prosecute the violations and can seek the assistance of a private attorney to help them.  


The attorneys at O’Flaherty’s Law understand the challenges of seeking a civil protective order. They can work with you so you can easily file all the necessary paperwork and represent you at the hearing to ensure the no-contact order is not only temporary. Call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced civil no-contact lawyers today. 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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