Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons Lawyer in Iowa

Accused of possessing an offensive weapon?  You need an Iowa Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons Lawyer defense lawyer.

Your Des Moines attorney can help you understand the violent crime the government accused you of.

Iowa Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons Lawyer

At Clark and Sears Law, PLLC, we defend the rights and liberties of good people who are accused of bad things.

An Iowa lawyer for willful injury might be able to help you avoid conviction. If a judge or jury acquits you, then you could save thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges. Similarly, if a judge or prosecutor dismisses the charges, you could go home to your family. Going home is better than going to jail.

Get out of trouble and get back to life. Call Katherine Sears at Clark and Sears Law, PLLC. You can set up a free consultation now at (515) 491 6128. 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. They represent defendants throughout Polk County and the rest of Iowa.

Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons in Iowa

Iowa Code 724.3 makes it illegal to carry an offensive weapon without authority. Breaking this law is a class D felony.  You could go to prison for up to five years.

Class D Felony Unauthorized Possession of an Offensive Weapon

The government must prove all of the following elements of Class D Felony Unauthorized Possession of an Offensive Weapon in order to convict you:

  • You are not an authorized person
  • But you possessed an offensive weapon anyway
  • And you knew that you had that weapon

Who is an "authorized person?"

It's illegal to possess an offensive weapon without authority.  So who's authorized?

The following people may have offensive weapons when their duties or lawful activities require or permit it:

  • Peace officers
  • Members of the United States armed forces
  • Members of the National Guard
  • People in the service of the United States
  • Iowa Department of Corrections correctional officers
  • People who are lawfully engaged in the business of supplying offensive weapons to authorized people
  • People, firms, and corporations who are lawfully engaged in improving, inventing, or manufacturing firearms
  • Museums (etc.) that display relics that are permanently unfit for use
  • People who have curios or relic firearms "solely for use in the official functions of a historical reenactment organization of which the person is a member," IF the weapon "has been permanently rendered unfit for the firing of live ammunition."  (It's okay if the weapon is adapted to fire blanks.)

Even if someone is authorized to possess offensive weapons in some situations, "no person is authorized to possess a shotshell or cartridge intended to project a flame or fireball ."  Iowa Code Section 724.1(7).

What is an "offensive weapon?"

Iowa Code section 724.1 explains that the following are "offensive weapons:"

  • Machine guns.  
  • Short-barreled rifles.  (A rifle with less than 16 inches of barrel length or a rifle that is less than 26 inches long.)
  • Short-barreled shotguns. (A shotgun with less than eighteen inches in barrel length or a shotgun less than 26 inches long.)
  • Any weapon other than a shotgun or muzzle loading rifle, cannon, pistol, revolver or musket, which fires or can be made to fire a projectile by the explosion of a propellant charge, which has a barrel or tube with the bore of more than six-tenths of an inch in diameter, or the ammunition or projectile therefor, but not including antique weapons kept for display or lawful shooting.
  • Explosive, incendiary, or poison gas bombs, grenades, or mines.
  • Rockets with more than four ounces of propellant charge.
  • Missiles with more than a quarter ounce of explosive charge.
  • Any device "similar" to those bombs, grenades, mines, rockets, or missiles (note -- constitutional vagueness protections are worth evaluating any time a law prohibits "similar" conduct.)
  • Ballistic knives.  (Knives with detachable blades, propelled by spring-operated mechanisms, elastic material, or compressed gas.)
  • Parts or combinations of parts designed or intended to be used to convert other things into or assemble offensive weapons.  This does NOT include magazines or other parts, ammunition or ammunition components for lawful sporting firearms.  This also does NOT include barrels suitable for refitting to sporting firearms.
  • Bullets or projectiles that contain explosive mixtures or chemical compounds that are capable of exploding or detonating prior to or upon impact.
  • Shotshells or cartridges containing exothermic pyrophoric misch metal as a projectile, designed to throw or project a flame or fireball to simulate a flamethrower.  (NOBODY is authorized to possess this one)
  • Silencers, mufflers, and suppressers.  (There's an exception for deer hunting with a specific permit.)


The following things are NOT considered "offensive weapons," though: 

  • Antique firearms.  (Firearms manufactured in or before 1898 or firearms that are replicas of firearms manufactured in or before 1898.  In order to be considered an "antique firearm," a replica must not be designed or redesigned for using conventional rimfire or centerfire fixed ammunition.  It also must not be manufactured in the United States anymore and must not be readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.)
  • Collector's items.  (Firearms that, by reason of date of manufacture, value, design, and other characteristics, are unlikely to be used as weapons.  The commissioner of public safety makes a rule to designate which firearms are collector's items.  That list gets updated at least annually.  Machine guns are NOT collector's items.)
  • Devices that aren't designed or redesigned for use as weapons.
  • Things that are designed solely for signaling, pyrotechnic, line-throwing, safety, or things like that.
  • Firearms that are unserviceable by reason of being unable to discharge a shot by means of an explosive and is incapable of being readily restored to a firing condition.

Penalties for Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons in Iowa

  • Class D Felony. 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.  

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

Defenses to Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons

The prosecutor has to prove every element of the offense.  If any of the following are true, you are not guilty of Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons if you:

  • Did not know that you had the weapon.
  • Thought that the weapon was something else.
  • Were authorized to possess the weapon.

Additional possession of an offensive weapon 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.

Iowa charges related to Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons

There are carrying-weapons-adjacent offenses they might also charge you with. Your intimidation with a dangerous weapon lawyer can explain these.

Carrying Weapons

Going armed with or simply transporting certain devices can end in a misdemeanor conviction if you don't understand the law.

Learn more about Carrying Weapons in Iowa.


Discharging dangerous weapons into occupied places (or threatening to do that) is a felony.  

Read more about Intimidation.


There are a range of assault charges. Depending on your situation, you could be charged with a simple assault under Iowa Code 708.2, facing up to 30 days in jail and fines of $105-$855 (plus surcharges.) Alternatively, you might face something worse. When you're convicted of a forcible felony while displaying a dangerous weapon, you will face at least five years in jail without the possibility of parole.  Iowa Code 902.7.

Reckless discharge of a firearm

If you intentionally discharge a firearm in a reckless manner, you could face anywhere from a simple misdemeanor to a class C felony. If you seriously injure someone, Iowa Code section 724.30 says you could spend up to 10 years in prison.

Disorderly conduct

Disorderly conduct is a simple misdemeanor.


Harassment is a misdemeanor offense. Depending on the details and severity, harassment can be a simple, serious, or aggravated misdemeanor.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Former felon? It's illegal to possess a firearm, even if your felony had nothing at all to do with drugs.

Learn more about Firearm Possession by Felon.

Possessing a Firearm After a Domestic Violence Conviction or when a Protective Order is In Effect

Like federal law, Iowa now generally prohibits any person from knowingly possessing, shipping, transporting, or receiving a firearm or ammunition if he or she has been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” This prohibition also applies to anyone subject to a domestic violence protective order.

Read more about Possession of a Firearm by a Felon

Des Moines Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons Lawyer

Call an Iowa Unauthorized Possession of Offensive Weapons when you’re facing charges in the city of Des Moines Iowa or near Iowa State University.

A Des Moines lawyer can help ensure that your rights are respected when you’re accused of an offense in the greater Des Moines area.

polk county iowa criminal defense lawyers katie sears john sears defense attorneys unauthorized possession offensive weapons iowa

This blog post is for informational purposes only. Don’t rely on it as legal advice. It may be out of date. It may not apply to your situation. Reading this site doesn’t make me your lawyer.

Consult with a licensed unauthorized possession of an offensive weapon lawyer in your jurisdiction.  If you want to talk to us about your Iowa case, please contact us at (515) 491 6128. We’ll set up a time to talk.

What will happen if I’m charged?

When someone accuses you of having an offensive weapon without authority, law enforcement will investigate. Then, if a judge finds probable cause, you could go to jail. Once in jail, you might be let out on bond. Pretrial release might let you out. You might not be let out at all.

Instead of sending you to jail, the judge might give you papers. Those papers will tell you when your court date is. After your arrest. police will read you your rights. Then, they will give you time to call an intimidation attorney or a law firm. 

Preliminary Hearing

At an initial appearance, you will see a judge. The judge might schedule a preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing, you or your lawyer will ask questions. One or more witnesses will be under oath. After the questions, the judge will decide whether probable cause exists.

Your attorney might suggest waiving the preliminary hearing. Before deciding, consult your lawyer. Alternatively, the prosecutor might file the "trial information" before the preliminary hearing. If so, there won't be a preliminary hearing.


Your attorney tell you about your next court date. After your preliminary hearing happens (or after you receive the trial information,) you will have an  arraignment.


Police will give reports to the county attorney's office. Then, the county attorney's office will review the information. After the prosecutor reads the reports, they will decide what offenses to charge you with. For instance, a prosecutor might charge you with a misdemeanor. Alternatively, they could accuse you of a felony.

Your defense lawyer will tell you what the government accused you of. Moreover, they will explain your rights. You also need to know how this could affect your criminal record. In short, they will tell you about the worst case scenario. A criminal lawyer will tell you more about the fines, terms of incarceration, and collateral consequences that might apply.

Your law firm will give you legal advice. Specifically, they will explain the pros and cons of taking your case to trial. After all, only you can decide whether or not to accept a plea offer. 

Finally, if a jury convicts you, you can probably appeal. The court of appeals hears appellate arguments. So does the Iowa Supreme Court. Because they review legal issues, they might find a constitutional problem. That means that the law can be illegal. Alternatively, the district court might have treated a legal law illegally. However, the right to appeal does not apply to simple misdemeanors. Ask your criminal defense attorney for more information.


What should I know about lawyers generally?

Attorneys completed their bachelor’s or 4-year degrees. Thereafter, they went to law school. One example is Drake University Law School. That school is in Des Moines.  Afterward, Iowa lawyers take the bar exam. Thereafter, a committee evaluates their character and fitness. The Iowa State Bar admits Iowa lawyers. The Iowa bar association regulates the legal profession.

Some lawyers and law firms do general practice. In light of that, they accept all kind of representation.  In contrast, some lawyers specialize in particular areas of law. For example, a lawyer might do only civil practice. When a lawyer does civil work, they might handle divorces. Additionally, the Iowa lawyer might represent small claims cases. Further, a civil practice lawyer could do personal injury work. In another case, the lawyer might focus on family law or child custody.

Alternatively, some lawyers practice only criminal defense.  Some lawyers get even more particular. For instance, a lawyer might take only domestic violence defense. Another lawyer might focus on sex crime, sexual abuse, operating while intoxicated, child endangerment, child abuse, indecent exposure, theft, possession of controlled substances, sex crimes, marijuana, DUI defense, controlled substance offenses, arson, criminal mischief, vehicular homicide, drug offenses, traffic violations, violent crime or drunk driving. 

Many Iowa lawyers practice only in Iowa courts. The Iowa Code defines all Iowa crimes. The Iowa rules of criminal procedure control what happens in Iowa criminal justice cases.

Federal court is different. If you are facing federal charges for a federal criminal offense, make sure to let your Iowa lawyer know. Because Iowa federal courts are not state law courts in Iowa, your lawyer might refer you elsewhere. Federal prosecutors and federal judges use different procedural rules. Federal crimes are subject to federal sentencing.

What offenses exist in Iowa criminal law?

Criminal law offenses are misdemeanors or felonies. Class A felonies exist, but most people facing felony charges are facing a class B felony, a class C felony, or a class D felony. If you have questions about Iowa intimidation offenses, ask a lawyer.

What can an Iowa intimidation with a dangerous weapon lawyer do for me?

When accused, contact an attorney or law firm. Make sure to call one who works with Iowa criminal law.

If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, your Iowa lawyer will help. In that case, you will coordinate with law enforcement. Self-surrender won't be as embarrassing as public arrest would be.

Your Iowa criminal lawyer will stay in touch with the county attorney’s office. That means they will let the prosecutor know whether you choose to exercise or waive your right to speedy trial.  Further, counsel can provide legal guidance. For example, you need to know whether it's a good idea 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 criminal lawyer will let you know what sort of jail time you might be facing if convicted. Moreover, they can explain how conviction impacts criminal history. Finally, they can discuss whether or not the prosecutor might dismiss your charges.

Victim Resources

A Victim Services Support Program is available through the Iowa attorney general’s office.