Des Moines, Iowa Misdemeanor Defense Attorneys

Iowa classifies crimes in only two ways.  A criminal charge in Iowa either represents a felony or a misdemeanor.  Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor charges.  While misdemeanor charges carry less severe penalties, they can still seriously impact your life.  Additionally, misdemeanors sometimes become felonies by "enhancements."  For example, while first offense drug possession is usually a misdemeanor charge, third offense drug possession can be a felony.  

On July 15, 2020, the penalties changed for Iowa misdemeanors. Fines are higher and surcharges are lower than before.  If you are convicted of or plead guilty to a crime that happened before July 15, 2020, you will pay the "old" fine and surcharge amounts *unless* the new amounts would be less.  Additionally, the legislature changed restitution calculations and added a new provision for misdemeanor expungement.

Types of Misdemeanors

There are three types of misdemeanor charges in Iowa.  Iowa misdemeanor charges are "simple," "serious," or "aggravated."  Sometimes, criminal statutes specify punishments.  For offenses without specified punishments, the penalties are as follows:

Simple Misdemeanors

A simple misdemeanor is the least severe type of offense in Iowa.  The minimum fine for an Iowa simple misdemeanor is $105.  The maximum fine is $855.  Additionally, the judge can sentence you to up to 30 days in jail.  (Iowa Code Section 903.1)

Examples of simple misdemeanors include third-degree harassment, simple assault, and domestic abuse assault.

Serious Misdemeanors

Fines for Iowa serious misdemeanors range from $430-$2,560.  You could spend up to 365 days in jail.  (Iowa Code Section 903.1)

Many first DUI offenses, drug crimes, and assaults are Iowa serious misdemeanors. 

Aggravated Misdemeanors

Iowa aggravated misdemeanor fines cost between $855 and $8,540.  Additionally, you could be sentenced to either a determinate sentence of up to 365 days in jail or a two year prison sentence.

A second DUI may be an aggravated misdemeanor.  Subsequent OWIs may be felonies.   

Des Moines Misdemeanors Consequences

Jail Costs

Iowa jail stays aren't free.  The state of Iowa wants you to pay for administrative procedures, booking, room and board, and medical care you receive.  (Iowa Code Section 356.7).

(The inmate handbook for Polk County Jail ("PCJ") is available online here.)


All misdemeanor fines are subject to surcharges.  In July of 2020, the "criminal penalty surcharge" was renamed the "crime services surcharge."  Instead of 35%, it is now only 15%. (Iowa Code ยง 911.1.)

Instead of paying criminal fines, defendants who receive deferred judgments pay "civil penalties."  There is no crime services surcharge for civil penalties.  However, if your deferred judgment is revoked, your penalty will be converted to a fine.  In that case, you would be expected to pay the surcharge. 


There are three categories of restitution that you may end up required to pay: victim restitution, category A restitution, and category B restitution.  If you plead guilty or are convicted, you will have to pay victim restitution and category A restitution regardless of your financial status.  Category B restitution requires an ability to pay analysis.  

If you need an Iowa misdemeanor attorney and would like to talk to us, call now at (515) 200-2787.

Charged with a crime in iowa? We can help!

Call (515) 200-2787 today for a free initial consultation.

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