Sexual Abuse

If you've been accused of sexual assault, you're being confronted with the "r" words. A conviction could result in getting branded as a rapist for the rest of your life. Depending on the offense, you could be looking at up to life in prison.

In addition to thousands of dollars in possible fines and years in prison, sexual assault charges could put you on the sex offender registry for ten years or for life. The registry is available online, where anyone -- including your friends, family members, and neighbors -- will see your photo and details about your conviction.


Des Moines Sex Crime Lawyers

At Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, we defend the rights and liberties of good people who are accused of bad things. An Iowa sex abuse attorney might be able to save you from paying thousands in fines and spending time locked up away from your family. Your lawyer will look for inconsistencies in witnesses' testimony, evidence of false accusations or consent, and exaggerations.

Get out of trouble and get back to life. Call Katherine Sears at Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, now at (515) 491 6128 to set up a free consultation. A receptionist is available 24/7 to take your call.

The criminal defense lawyers at Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, are based in Des Moines and Ankeny and represent defendants throughout Polk County and the rest of Iowa.


Sexual Abuse Defined

Succinctly, sexual abuse under Iowa Code 709.1 is any sex act done by force, against someone's will, by threats of violence, or while someone is drugged or unconscious. Children and people who have mental defects or incapacities cannot give consent, so any sex act done with them is illegal sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse can be in the first, second, or third degree.


Sexual abuse in the first degree

Causing a serious injury during sex abuse is sex abuse in the first degree, which is a class "A" felony and for which you will serve life in prison without possibility of parole.


Sexual abuse in the second degree

If you display a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner, use or threaten to use force that creates a substantial risk of death or serious injury to any person, or have sex with someone under the age of 12, that is sexual abuse in the second degree.

Second degree sexual assault is a class "B" felony. If you are convicted of sex abuse second degree, you will be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.


Sexual abuse in the third degree

Third degree sex abuse involves any of the following:


  • Sex done by force or against someone's will
  • A sex act done with someone who can't give consent because of a mental defect or incapacity
  • Sex with a twelve or thirteen year old
  • Sex with a fourteen or fifteen year old
    • Who you're related to
    • Who lives in your household
    • Who you coerce to submit by using your position of authority
    • Who is four years or more younger than you
  • A sex act with someone who is under the influence of a controlled substance (including, but not limited to flunitrazepam, also called "Rohypnol" or "roofies" or "GHB") if:
    • The substance prevents them from consenting and
    • You know (or reasonably should have known) that they were under the influence
  • A sex act with someone who is mentally or physically incapacitated or who is physically helpless.

Third degree sexual assault is a class "C" felony, for which you face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1000 - $10,000.


Minimum sentence for use of dangerous weapon

If the jury finds that you committed a "forcible felony," which includes sex assault in any degree, and that you were in the immediate possession and control of a dangerous weapon, displayed a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner, or were armed with a dangerous weapon while you committed sexual abuse, you will serve a minimum of five years in prison before being eligible for parole. Iowa Code 902.7.


Sentencing enhancement for repeat offenders

If you are convicted of a "sexually predatory" felony and you have a prior conviction for a sexually predatory offense, you will be sentenced to twice the maximum prison time for the offense or twenty-five years, whichever is greater. You won't be eligible for any sentencing reductions over 15%. Iowa Code 901A.2(3).

If you're convicted twice of second degree sexual assault against someone under the age of twelve, you will be sentenced to life in prison and will be subject to the rules usually applied to people convicted of class "A" felonies. 901A.2(5).


Repeat offender class "A" felony enhancement

If you're convicted of a second or subsequent offense involving any combination of the following offenses, it's a class "A" felony, for which you will go to prison for the rest of your life:


  • Second degree sexual abuse
  • Third degree sexual abuse
  • Lascivious acts with a child involving:
    • Fondling or touching the pubes or genitals of a child
    • Permitting or causing a child to touch genitals or pubes

Iowa Code 902.14.


Mandatory hormonal intervention therapy

If you're convicted of a serious sexual offense, the court may require you to undergo medroxyprogesterone acetate treatment (or something comparable.)

If you have a second or subsequent conviction, you will be required to undergo hormone treatment as a condition of release unless the court or board determines that treatment wouldn't be effective. You won't be forced to accept this treatment if you voluntarily undergo a permanent surgical alternative (such as, maybe, castration) approved by the court or parole board. 903B(10).

Defense lawyers for sexual abuse in Des Moines, Polk County, Ankeny, Ames, Johnston, West Des Moines, Waukee, Saylorville, Bondurant, Altoona, Clive, Grimes, Pleasant Hill, Story County, Boone County, Marshall County, Dallas County, Jasper County, Madison County, Warren County, Marion County, Wapello County, Davis County, Ottumwa, Bloomfield, Iowa City, Council Bluffs, and the rest of Iowa.


polk county iowa criminal defense lawyers katie sears and john sears defense attorneys sexual abuse sexual assault sex abuse

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.  Reading this site doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship.  If you want to talk to us about your Iowa sexual assault charges, please contact us at (515) 491 6128 and we’ll set up a time to talk.

What can an Iowa rape lawyer do for me?

If you’ve been accused of sex crime or domestic violence in Iowa, you want to talk to an attorney at a law firm that works with criminal law.

If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, your criminal defense attorney can help coordinate with law enforcement to coordinate a self-surrender that doesn’t result in potential embarrassment at work or while you’re home with your family.

Your criminal attorney will stay in touch with the county attorney’s office and let them know whether you choose to exercise or waive your right to speedy trial.  Further, your Iowa rape lawyer can provide some guidance on whether it’s advisable in your position to consider a plea agreement or to go to trial. They will talk to you about whether a judge or jury is likely to find a particular witness credible.

Your lawyer will let you know what sort of jail time you might be facing if convicted of a sex offense, how this will impact your criminal history, and whether there’s any possibility that the sex crimes allegations against you could end up with the charges dismissed.

If the alleged victim has gotten a protective order against you, legal services will likely include a discussion about how civil orders are treated by the criminal justice system.

Attorneys are people who completed their bachelor’s or 4-year degrees and then went on to attend a law school, such as Drake University Law School in Des Moines.  After completing law school, Iowa lawyers take the bar exam and are evaluated for character and fitness.  

Some lawyers and law firms do general practice, which means they accept all kind of representation.  Some lawyers specialize in particular areas of law. A lawyer might do only civil practice or only criminal defense.  Some lawyers get even more particular than that, practicing only (or primarily) in a narrow area, such as personal injury, sex crime, operating while intoxicated, child endangerment, child abuse, or indecent exposure.  Many Iowa lawyers practice only in Iowa courts. Federal court is different. If you are facing federal charges, make sure to let your Iowa lawyer know that so that they can give you referrals to other attorneys, if necessary.

When someone alleges that you have committed a sexual violation, law enforcement will start an investigation.  Depending on whether they believe there is probable cause to charge you with a violent offense, you could be taken to jail.  After your arrest, you will be read your rights and given an opportunity to call a lawyer or a law firm.

You will be taken in front of the judge for an initial appearance.  The judge will schedule a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, you or your lawyer will have the opportunity to ask a witness questions to establish whether probable cause exists to charge you with the offense.  At this hearing, the witness will be under oath. There are reasons that your attorney might suggest waiving the preliminary hearing. You should consult with them before making a decision.

Your attorney will let you know when you will next have to appear in front of the court.  This may be for an arraignment or you may be able to submit a written arraignment.

The county attorney’s office will review the information provided to them by the police.  They will determine what offenses to charge you with. Most sexual offenses are felonies. Even production of hardcore pornography is a class D felony.

Your attorney will let you know what sort of violence the government is claiming you did, what your rights are, what the worst case scenario sentence could be, and how this could affect your criminal record. 

Your law firm will give you legal advice on the pros and cons of taking your case to trial.  The decision of whether or not to go to trial is ultimately yours.

Finally, if you’re convicted, you might have reason and opportunity to appeal your conviction or sentence to an appellate court or even to the Iowa Supreme Court.  Ask your Des Moines criminal defense attorney for their opinion.