Iowa Domestic Violence Laws

Iowa laws define domestic violence as "domestic abuse." Domestic abuse is an assault between:

  • Family or household members who reside together at the time of the assault,
  • Separated spouses or persons divorced from each other and not residing together at the time of the assault,
  • Persons who are parents of the same minor child, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time,
  • 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, or
  • 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.

Read on to learn more about how domestic violence is treated under Iowa law.

Arrest for Domestic Abuse Assault

A peace officer may, with or without a warrant, arrest a person for domestic abuse if, upon investigation, including a reasonable inquiry of the alleged victim and other witnesses the officer has probable cause to believe that a domestic abuse assault has been committed. The peace officer must arrest the person whom the peace officer believes to be the primary physical aggressor. The duty of the officer to arrest extends only to those persons involved who are believed to have committed an assault

Punishment for Domestic Abuse Assault

First Offense

On a first offense of domestic abuse assault, the person commits a simple misdemeanor. If the assault causes bodily injury or mental illness, it is classified as a serious misdemeanor. The crime is considered an aggravated misdemeanor, if the assault is committed with the intent to inflict a serious injury upon another, or if the person uses or displays a dangerous weapon in connection with the assault.

Second Offense

On a second domestic abuse assault, a person commits a serious misdemeanor, if the first offense was classified as a simple misdemeanor, and the second offense would otherwise be classified as a simple misdemeanor. The crime will be classified as an aggravated misdemeanor, if the first offense was classified as a simple or aggravated misdemeanor, and the second offense would otherwise be classified as a serious misdemeanor, or the first offense was classified as a serious or aggravated misdemeanor, and the second offense would otherwise be classified as a simple or serious misdemeanor.

Class "D" Felonies

On a third or subsequent offense of domestic abuse assault, a person commits a class "D" felony. If the domestic abuse assault is committed by knowingly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another by applying pressure to the throat or neck of the other person or by obstructing the nose or mouth of the other person, and causing bodily injury, the person also commits a class "D" felony.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

The court may grant a protective order under Iowa domestic violence laws that may contain any of the following provisions:

  • Defendant cease domestic abuse of the plaintiff.

  • Defendant not knowingly possess, ship, transport, or receive firearms, offensive weapons, and ammunition.

  • Defendant grant possession of the residence to the plaintiff to the exclusion of the defendant or that the defendant provide suitable alternate housing for the plaintiff.

  • Defendant stay away from the plaintiff's residence, school, or place of employment.

  • Awarding of temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to children under eighteen.

  • A grant to the petitioner of the exclusive care, possession, or control of any pets or companion animals.

Notice and Hearing

According to Iowa domestic violence laws, a hearing shall be held at which the plaintiff must prove the allegation of domestic abuse by a preponderance of the evidence not less than five and not more than fifteen days after commencing a proceeding and upon notice to the other party. Under due process laws, the defendant is also required to be properly notified of this hearing.

Temporary/Emergency Protection Order

The court may enter a temporary order if it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff from domestic abuse prior to the hearing, including temporary custody or visitation orders upon good cause shown. Present danger of domestic abuse to the plaintiff constitutes good cause. A temporary order issued must specifically include notice that the person may be required to relinquish all firearms, offensive weapons, and ammunition upon the issuance of a permanent order. When the court is unavailable due to the close of business, a petition may be filed before a district judge or a district associate judge, who may grant emergency relief to the victim.

Violation of Protective Orders

If a peace officer has probable cause to believe that a person has violated a protective order, the peace officer shall take the person into custody and must take the person without unnecessary delay before the nearest or most accessible magistrate in the judicial district in which the person was taken into custody.

Getting Help

If you are a victim of domestic violence, immediately call 911 during any emergency. If you're facing a domestic violence charge and require additional legal assistance, you should contact an experienced Iowa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Remember to tell your attorney what happened, whether there's a protection order, and if you have guns.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.