Willful Injury Lawyer in Iowa

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 call a Willful Injury lawyer in Iowa.

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

Iowa Willful Injury 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.

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.  Iowa Code 907.3.

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 victime 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.

Iowa Code 915.100

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.

Iowa charges related to Willful Injury

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

Carrying weapons

Minors who go armed with tasers face simple misdemeanor charges.

Iowa Code 724.4 makes most other carrying weapons charges serious or aggravated misdemeanors.


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.

Defenses to Willful Injury

The government's lawyer has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you're guilty of all statutory elements of Willful Injury. Unless they do that, you get acquitted. If you're acquitted, you're not guilty. If you're not guilty, you go home.

Some possible intimidation defenses include:

Self defense or justification

Under some circumstances, your act could be legally justified. For instance, if you used only as much force as a reasonable person would think was necessary to stop someone from hurting you or someone else, you might be able to claim "defense of self" or "defense of another" under Iowa Code 704.3.

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 First Amendment is my best friend and sometimes-savior but I also really, really love the Fourth Amendment.

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

Des Moines Willful Injury Lawyer

Call an Iowa willful injury lawyer 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 willful injury 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 willful injury 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 alleges that you committed willful injury, 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.