Willful Injury

Willful Injury Lawyer In Des Moines

In Iowa, trying to cause serious injury is "willful injury" if the act isn't justified. (It is NEVER justified to hurt someone just because they've upset you or said something you don't like! "Justification" refers to things like self-defense or defense of someone else.)  If your unjustified violence causes bodily injury, you could go to prison for 5 years. If your violence causes serious injury, you could go to prison for 10 years. With years of your life on the line, you should contact a Willful Injury lawyer in Iowa.

Iowa Willful Injury

Iowa Code 708.4 concerns Willful Injury.

Degrees of Willful Injury in Iowa

Willful Injury is an Iowa felony.  Depending on the details, it can be either a Class "D" felony or a Class "C" felony.

The most significant difference between the C felony and the D felony is how seriously you injure your victim.

Class D Felony Willful Injury

Bodily injury?  Class D felony Willful Injury is when you try to seriously injure someone and they get hurt.

Class C Felony Willful Injury

Serious injury?  Class C felony Willful Injury is when you try to seriously injure someone and succeed.  

The difference between Class C and Class D Willful Injury is how bad the victim's injury is.  Either offense involves intending to cause serious injury.  If you succeed in seriously injuring someone, you have committed the Class C offense.  If you succeed in injuring someone but the injury is not severe, you have committed the Class D offense.

Unlike the D felony, Class C felony willful injury is a "forcible felony."  Conviction of a forcible felony makes you ineligible for a deferred judgment, deferred sentence, or suspended sentence.  

Bodily Injury

Bodily injury ordinarily “refers only to injury to the body, or to sickness or disease contracted by the injured as a result of injury.”   Injury includes “an act that damages, harms, or hurts:  an unjust or undeserved infliction of suffering or harm․”  State v. McKee, 312 N.W.2d 907 (Iowa 1981).

Serious Injury

"Serious injury" has a statutory definition. Iowa Code 702.18.

Bodily injuries are serious when they create substantial risk of death, cause serious permanent disfigurement, impair function of any body part, or require surgery involving general anesthesia.  An assault that leaves a scar can be a serious injury.

For adults, a debilitating mental illness can be a serious injury.  For children under the age of four, "serious injury" also includes skull fractures, rib fractures, and metaphyseal fractures of the long bones.

Penalties for Willful Injury in Iowa

Willful Injury is always a felony.  Depending on whether or not you cause a serious injury, your offense is either a Class D felony or a Class D felony. 

  • Class C Felony Willful Injury. Up to 10 years in prison. $1,370 minimum to $13,660 maximum.
  • Class D Felony Willful Injury. Up to 5 years in prison. $1,025 minimum to $10,245 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.  Similarly, Class C Willful Injury convictions are ineligible for deferred judgments.

You should expect to pay restitution for any damages you cause.

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

You need to talk to City of West Des Moines Willful Injury lawyers if you’re facing criminal charges.


If you cause injury or property damage in Iowa, you probably owe victim restitution.

The Court will establish a plan of restitution.

You probably already know that if you damage property (or injure someone) during a trespass, you will have to repay the person whose property you injured. You may be surprised to find out that you may also have to pay fines, civil penalties, and surcharges. Additionally, you may have to:

  • Reimburse the crime victim restitution program.
  • Contribute funds to a local anticrime organization that helped the police in your case.
  • Pay court costs and correctional fees.
  • Pay court-appointed attorney fees, including the expense of a public defender.
  • Perform public service or community service if you can’t reasonably pay all or part of the court costs

Your payments have to go to the victims’ restitution order first, before your payments count toward fines, penalties, surcharges, crime victim compensation program reimbursement, public agency reimbursement, court costs, correctional fees, court-appointed attorney fees, expenses of a public defender, or contributions to local anti-crime organizations.

If the court orders you to pay restitution, your victim may file a restitution lien. Even when the court grants restitution, the victim can still sue you for damages.

Willful Injury Enhancements

Habitual offender willful injury enhancement 

Iowa Code 902.8 can enhance felony willful injury charges.

Some people call a habitual offender enhancement the "third strike" rule. Do you already have two or more felony convictions? Convictions from anywhere in the United States count. If so, your next class C felony or class D felony conviction in Iowa makes you a "habitual offender."

Habitual offender convictions prevent you from getting parole for at least three years.  The maximum prison sentence for a habitual offender conviction is fifteen years.


Charged with a crime in iowa? We can help!

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