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Apr 03

March 2018

Posted on April 3, 2018 at 8:34 AM by Justin Flage

This 87th Edition of Justice For All is about the penalties for committing domestic abuse assault.

As discussed in last month’s column, Iowa Code Chapter 708.2A was designed to address and criminalize domestic abuse assault. This section of Iowa law has a number of special and unique provisions aimed at the goals of protecting victims and punishing offenders with a major focus on preventing recidivism.

There are a number of different types of domestic abuse assault which include:  assaults with no injury, assaults causing bodily injury or mental illness, assaults with the intent to inflict a serious injury on another, assaults involving the use or display of a dangerous weapon, assaults involving strangulation without injury and strangulation with injury, and assaults where the defendant has prior convictions or a prior deferred judgment for domestic abuse assault. 

The penalty for a defendant depends in part on which one of these types of domestic abuse assault the defendant is convicted of. If a defendant is convicted of the lowest level of domestic abuse assault, which is an assault with no injury and no prior convictions, the maximum sentence is 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $625. Any defendant convicted of the highest level of domestic abuse assault, strangulation with bodily injury or a third offense within the last 12 years, must serve a prison sentence of up to 5 years and is subject to a fine of $750 to $7,500.

In addition to aforementioned penalties, Iowa law has specific additional rules and sanctions that apply to domestic abuse assault cases. Iowa has a special rule requiring officers to arrest a defendant as soon as the officer establishes probable cause for a domestic abuse assault involving an injury, a dangerous weapon, or strangulation.

Iowa law also requires the judge to issue a no-contact order when a defendant is charged with any type of domestic abuse assault. The no-contact order must restrict the defendant from having contact with the victim, persons residing with the victim, or the victim’s immediate family. The no-contact order also must specifically include notice that the person may be required to relinquish all firearms, offensive weapons, and ammunition. Any defendant who violates a no-contact order issued for domestic abuse assault must be immediately arrested and, if found to have committed a violation, must serve a minimum of seven days in jail.

Once a defendant is convicted of domestic abuse assault he or she must serve at least two days in jail on consecutive days and if it’s a third offense then the defendant must be sent to prison and shall be denied parole or work release until one-fifth of the maximum sentence has been served. A lifetime ban on possessing, shipping, transporting, or receiving any type of a firearm, offensive weapon, or ammunition will also apply to anyone convicted of domestic abuse assault along with an up to five year extension of the no-contact order issued at the start of the case.

Completion of a batterers’ treatment program is a mandatory sentencing requirement for all domestic abuse assault convictions and deferred judgments and is fulfilled by completing the Iowa Domestic Abuse Program which is the topic of next month’s Justice For All.