Carrying Weapons

Carrying Weapons Lawyer In Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa Code 724.4 discusses Carrying Weapons.  Going armed can be either a serious misdemeanor or an aggravated misdemeanor.  An aggravated misdemeanor is a "worse" offense than a serious misdemeanor.

Serious Misdemeanor Carrying Weapons

The government must prove all of the following elements of serious-misdemeanor-level Carrying Weapons in order to convict you:

  • You went armed
  • With a knife
  • Concealed on or "about" your person
  • You did not use the knife in the commission of the crime
  • The knife's blade was more than five inches long but was not more than eight inches long

Aggravated Misdemeanor Carrying Weapons

Any of the following constitute an aggravated-misdemeanor-level Carrying Weapons offense:

  • You "went armed"
  • With a dangerous weapon
  • Concealed on or "about" your person


  • You "went armed"
  • With a pistol, revolver, or loaded firearm of any kind, whether concealed or not
  • Within the limits of any city


  • You knowingly carried or transported a pistol or revolver
  • In a vehicle


  • You went armed
  • With a knife
  • Concealed on or "about" your person
  • You used the knife in the commission of a crime


  • You went armed
  • With a knife
  • Concealed on or "about" your person
  • The knife's blade was more than eight inches long

"Dangerous Weapon"

Iowa Code section 702.7 provides that a “dangerous weapon” is any instrument or device designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury upon a human being or animal, and which is capable of inflicting death upon a human being when used in the manner for which it was designed, except a bow and arrow when possessed and used for hunting or any other lawful purpose.

Additionally, any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being, is a dangerous weapon.

Dangerous weapons include but are not limited to any offensive weapon, pistol, revolver, or other firearm, dagger, razor, stiletto, switchblade knife, knife having a blade exceeding five inches in length, or any portable device or weapon directing an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person.

Courts have found that in some contexts, brass knuckles, box cutters, utility knives, throwing stars, throwing hatchets, and boomerangs can be dangerous weapons -- and so can plenty of other things! If the prosecution can prove that the way you used an object shows that you meant to hurt or kill someone, that object can be considered a dangerous weapon.

Penalties for Carrying Weapons in Iowa

Carrying Weapons is a misdemeanor offense.  Most charges are aggravated misdemeanor.  If you were carrying a knife between 5"-8" long and did not commit a(nother) crime with it, though, that's a serious misdemeanor. 

  • Aggravated Misdemeanor Carrying Weapons. Up to 2 years in prison. $855 minimum to $8,540 maximum.
  • Serious Misdemeanor Carrying Weapons. Up to 1 year in the county jail. $430 minimum to $2560 maximum fine.

You will have to pay an additional 15% crime services surcharge on any fine

If you get a deferred judgment instead of a conviction, you will pay a civil penalty instead of a fine. Civil penalties are in the same amounts as criminal fines — for instance, if you get a deferred judgment on a theft 5th, you could get a civil penalty of $105 instead of getting a criminal fine for $105. There’s no additional15% surcharge for civil penalties, though.

If you receive a deferred judgment, you will be put on probation.  Your prison sentence will be "suspended," so that you don't have to go to prison unless you violate probation.  Probation charges a $300 supervision fee.  If you successfully complete probation following a deferred judgment, your conviction will be expunged from your publicly-visible court record. 

You are not eligible for a deferred judgment if you have received two deferred judgments in the past.  

The county attorney might ask for the judge to order you to perform community service hours. You might have to pay a placement fee.

Carrying Weapons Enhancements

Guns on School Grounds

Iowa Code Section 724.4B makes it a Class D felony to go armed with, carry, or transport any firearm on school grounds unless your duties as a peace officer, armed forces member, corrections officer require or permit you to have the weapon.  (Or unless it's an unloaded and stored in a closed and fastened container too large to be concealed on your person.) 

This rule also doesn't apply to people the school has specifically authorized, including people hired to instruct firearms safety course. Licensees under Iowa Code Chapter 80A with appropriate permits to carry are also exempt.

Conviction of a felony will cause you to lose your gun rights.

Weapons Free Zones — Enhanced Penalties

Areas within a thousand feet of a school or public park are "weapons free zones." (Exception: designated hunting areas are not weapons free zones.) If you commit a public offense involving a firearm or offensive weapon within a weapons free zone, you "shall" be subject to a fine of double the maximum.  Iowa Code 724.4A.

Serious misdemeanor weapons offense in a weapons free zone: up to a year in jail and a fine of $5,120.

Aggravated misdemeanor weapons offense in a weapons free zone: up to a year in jail and a fine of $17,080.

Defenses to Carrying Weapons

Iowa's Carrying Weapons law explicitly provides some defenses.  These defenses include:

  • Owning and possessing the dwelling, business, or land where you were going armed.
  • Being a police officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces or national guard whose duties require you to carry a weapon.
  • The unloaded pistol or revolver was in a car, in a closed, fastened container that was too large to conceal on your person.
  • The unloaded pistol or revolver was in a car, in a cargo or luggage compartment where it wasn't readily accessible to anyone riding in the car.
  • You were lawfully engaged in target practice on a target range
  • Lawful hunting or fishing.
  • You have a valid permit to carry weapons
  • Being an out-of-state police officer extraditing or removing a prisoner from Iowa.
  • Pursuing a suspect in Iowa while working as an out-of-state police officer.
  • Being an out-of-state police officer acting in concert with the local police, sheriffs, or similar agency in the State of Iowa.
  • You were transporting prisoners under a contract with the Iowa Department of Corrections or similar agency.

Additional Possible Carrying Weapons Defenses Include:

Mistaken Identity

If it's reasonable to think that someone else was the person committing the offense, then you shouldn't be held responsible.


Were you somewhere else? If you were testifying in front of Congress at the time of the alleged offense, the jury should hear about your alibi.

Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment, with some specific and well-delineated exceptions, guards you from warrantless searches and seizures.

Second Amendment

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
- Second Amendment, United States Constitution

Does the second amendment protect your right to carry weapons?  If you wanted to raise this argument, we would probably need to be able to show that you were carrying weapons as part of a well-regulated militia and that that militia was necessary to the security of a free state.  Arguably, the National Guard IS the well-regulated militia necessary for free states' security.  Showing that whatever non-National-Guard "militia" you were engaged with makes the charges against you unconstitutional as applied isn't necessarily impossible, but it's a tall order.  The second amendment is unlikely to be a bulwark against prosecution.

Charged with a crime in iowa? We can help!

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

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