Assault Lawyers in Des Moines

Iowa Assault Defined

Many people feel indignant when charged because they “didn’t even hit” the other person.

You don’t have to leave a mark or even strike someone at all to be charged with this.

An assault is any act intended to cause harmful, painful, injurious or offensive contact to another person. “Hitting” is an assault, but so is simply grabbing someone’s arm. Spitting on them, although not necessarily harmful, painful, or injurious, is typically considered “offensive contact.”  Spitting on someone is assault.

An assault can also be doing something to make someone else think you’re about to cause them harmful, painful, injurious, or offensive contact. Drawing your fist back as if you might hit someone is an assault even if you never touch them at all.  Even lifting an object can be an assault, if you intend to make someone think you will throw it at them or hit them with it.

Finally, an assault can be pointing a gun at someone or "displaying a weapon in a threatening manner."

Types of assault

  • Domestic Assault
  • Simple assault: simple misdemeanor
  • Causing bodily injury or mental illness: serious misdemeanor
  • With intent to inflict a serious injury: aggravated misdemeanor
  • Causing serious injury (when you didn't intend to cause serious injury): Class "D" felony.
  • While using an object to penetrate someone else's genitalia or anus: Class "C" felony.

What is "Bodily Injury?"

For purposes of Iowa charges, "bodily" injury can be almost anything -- a bruise, a scratch, a cut -- so long as the State can convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that it's an injury and that you caused it.

What is "Serious Injury?"

Per Iowa Code 702.18, "serious injury" is:

  • Disabling mental illness
  • Bodily injury that does any of these things:
    • Creates a substantial risk of death.
    • Causes serious permanent disfigurement.
    • Causes protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
  • Any injury to a child that requires surgical repair and necessitates the administration of general anesthesia

What are the Penalties for Assault in Iowa?

The penalties for assault in Iowa can vary depending on the case's specific circumstances, including the severity of the injury inflicted and the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. Some key points to consider include the following:

  • Simple Assault: Simple assault is generally considered a serious misdemeanor in Iowa and can result in fines and imprisonment. Penalties may be increased if the victim is a protected class, such as a law enforcement officer or an elderly person.
  • Aggravated Assault: Aggravated assault is more serious than simple assault and can result in harsher penalties. It is generally considered a Class D felony in Iowa and can result in significant fines and imprisonment.
  • Domestic Assault: Assault between people in a domestic relationship, such as married couples, is considered domestic assault. The penalties for domestic assault are more severe than simple assault and can result in fines, probation, and imprisonment.
  • Sentencing Enhancements: If the crime was committed in certain areas, such as a school or a park, the penalties would be increased.
  • Repeat Offenders: Repeat offenders may face harsher penalties than first-time offenders

It's important to note that an assault conviction can have long-term consequences, including difficulty finding employment, housing, and other opportunities. Additionally, an assault conviction can affect a person's immigration status.

If you have been charged with assault, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our Iowa assault attorney can help you understand the charges against you, the potential consequences of a conviction, and the best defense strategies available to you. Additionally, we may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, which can result in reduced charges and a more lenient sentence.

Defenses to Assault


If you used only a reasonable amount of force to stop someone else from using unlawful force against you or against another person (or against property,) you might have a self-defense or "justification" defense that could prevent conviction.

Sports and Other Activities

If what you're doing is a reasonably foreseeable part of a consensual (non-criminal) sport or a social activity and doesn't create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or breach of the peace, the incident is not assault.

Charged with a crime in iowa? We can help!

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

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