In this article...

In this article, we discuss recent changes to domestic abuse and violence law under the new Iowa code. We cover the following questions:

  • What is Domestic Abuse/Violence under Iowa law?
  • Can I Get Arrested for Domestic Abuse in Iowa?
  • How Do I Place a Protective Order in Iowa?
  • What Are Temporary Protective Orders in Iowa?
  • What Happens If I Violate A Protective Orders in Iowa?
  • Punishment for Domestic Violence in Iowa

In this article, we discuss recent changes to domestic abuse and violence law under the new Iowa code. We cover the following questions:

  • What is Domestic Abuse/Violence under Iowa law?
  • Can I Get Arrested for Domestic Abuse in Iowa?
  • How Do I Place a Protective Order in Iowa?
  • What Are Temporary Protective Orders in Iowa?
  • What Happens If I Violate A Protective Orders in Iowa?
  • Punishment for Domestic Violence in Iowa

What is Domestic Abuse/Violence under Iowa law?

Iowa Code Ch. 236.2 defines domestic abuse/violence as an assault committed between people in one of the following relationships:

  • Family members or persons residing in the same household at the time of the assault;
  • Divorced couples or separated spouses who do not live together at the time of the assault;
  • People who have a child together, whether or not the people were married or ever living together; or
  • People who resided together in the previous year and are not currently living together.

Assault is defined in chapter 700 of the Iowa Code. A felony assault is an assault that causes serious injury or occurs in the commission of another felony or sex crime. Additionally, assault includes:

  • Any act intending to cause pain or injury to another, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act;
  • Any act indenting to result in offensive physical contact or to place another in fear of imminent offensive physical contact, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act; and
  • Intentionally pointing or displaying a dangerous weapon at someone in a threatening manner.

Actual injury is not required for the crime to be assault, nor is physical contact. For example, pointing a weapon such as a knife at a spouse can be considered assault under Iowa law.

Can I Get Arrested for Domestic Abuse in Iowa?

If a police officer has probable cause to believe domestic abuse has occurred, the officer may arrest the person accused of committing the abuse. Probable cause is a reasonable belief that the crime has occurred. The officer must arrest the accused if the victim has been injured, the defendant has a dangerous weapon or the accused intended to cause serious bodily injury.

How Do I Place A Protective Order in Iowa?

A protective order (also known as a restraining order) requires a defendant to stay away from and not contact the victim. The victim can seek the orders themselves or on behalf of a minor. A hearing generally is held 5-15 days after the filing of the application. Following the hearing, the court may issue an order:

  • Granting possession of a shared residence to the victim
  • Awarding temporary custody or visitation
  • Prohibiting the abuser from contacting or coming near the victim
  • Awarding financial support for the victim
  • Prohibiting the abuser from possessing firearms, ammo or other dangerous weapons
  • Awarding attorney fees to the victim

Generally, these orders last one yar but can be extended as needed prior to the one-year expiration.

What Are Temporary Protective Orders in Iowa?

There are circumstances where a judge could grand a temporary or emergency protective order prior to holding a full hearing. The abuser does not receive a notice and isn’t present when the judge issues the order. These are known as “ex parte” orders and are granted when there is a present danger of abuse and an order is necessary prior to the hearing. The order will remain in place until the hearing can be held.

For more information, see Iowa Code Ch. 236.4 and 236.6.

What Happens If I Violate A Protective Orders in Iowa?

If the abuser violates a court ordered protective order, the officer will arrest the abuser. A violation of the protective order is a simple misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine ranging from $65 to $625. It is additionally viewed as contempt of court, which is also punishable by jail or a fine. The minimum jail sentence is seven days. If the abuser violates the order and owns guns, they will face felony charges for violating a prohibition on firearm ownership.  

Punishment for Domestic Violence in Iowa

First Offense

If there are no additional charges, domestic abuse assault is treated as a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine ranging from $65 to $625.  

If the victim suffers bodily injury or a mental injury, the assault is considered a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine ranging from $315 to $1875.

If the assault is committed with the intention to cause serious injury or if the abuser was armed with a dangerous weapon, the first offense becomes an aggravated misdemeanor which will be punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine ranging from $625 to $6250.

Second Offense

If you’ve been convicted of a simple misdemeanor domestic assault then are convicted of another, the second offense is a serious misdemeanor. If the first or second offense is classified as a serious or aggravated misdemeanor, the second offense is an aggravated misdemeanor. In Iowa, there is a mandatory two-day jail sentence for the aggravated misdemeanor.

Third and subsequent offenses

Additional offenses are class D felonies which carry up to five years imprisonment and a fine ranging from $750 to $7500. The abuser must serve at least one year in jail before becoming eligible for work release or parole. Iowa additionally has a five-year minimum prison sentence for any forcible felony committed with a dangerous weapon.  

Court ordered treatment programs

In many cases, courts will order abusers to participate in a batterer’s treatment program. This program is meant for domestic violence that has occurred in situations where the parties are married, living together, have children together, etc. The abuser will have to pay for the treatment program.  

If you have further questions about domestic violence or would like to speak to one of our skilled civil litigation attorneys, please give us a call at (515) 207-2006 or email us desmoines.ia@oflaherty-law.com.

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