Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Iowa
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Iowa law contains a crime known as assault with a dangerous weapon, which is defined as:
- intentionally pointing or displaying a firearm or dangerous weapon at another person
- being armed with a dangerous weapon with an intent to harm another, or
- intimidation with a dangerous weapon.
The crime may be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.
(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 708.1, 708.2, 708.2A, 708.2C, 708.3, 708.3A, 708.4, 708.6, 708.8.)
What Constitutes a “Dangerous Weapon?”
A dangerous weapon is an object that was designed primarily to inflict death or injury on a human being or animal (such as a knife, gun, razor, or TASER gun) or any object that is actually used with the intent to inflict death or injury and capable of doing so. For example, a knife is a dangerous weapon, but a baseball bat could also be a dangerous weapon if used with the intention of causing injury.
(Iowa Code Ann. § 702.7.)
Misdemeanor Assault With a Dangerous Weapon
An intentional display of a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner at another person will be treated as misdemeanor assault in Iowa.
(Iowa Code Ann. § 708.1.)
Felony Assault With a Dangerous Weapon
Being armed with a dangerous weapon with the intent to use it against another person without justification is a felony, as is intimidation with a dangerous weapon. Intimidation with a dangerous weapon is:
- shooting, throwing, launching, or discharging a dangerous weapon, or threatening to do so under circumstances where people might reasonably expect the threat to be carried out
- at or in an occupied building, vehicle, airplane, train, or boat, or a group of people
- with the intent to injure or to provoke fear or anger, thus
- placing people in reasonable apprehension of serious injury.
(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 708.6, 708.8.)
Assault With a Dangerous Weapon Against a Protected Employee
Assaults with a dangerous weapon on the following types of employees are felonies that will result in increased punishment in certain situations, as explained below:
- law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and parole board members and employees
- health care providers
- firefighters (whether paid or volunteer), and
- department of human services and revenue employees.
The defendant must, in order to be held accountable under this part of the law, have actually known of the victim’s occupation. Such awareness may be presumed from the circumstances. For example, the law specifically mentions that a defendant who commits an assault against a health care provider at a hospital or in an ambulance will be presumed to have known of the victim’s occupation.
(Iowa Code Ann. § 708.3A.)
Assault in Violation of Individual Rights (Hate Crimes)
An assault is a hate crime when committed because of the victim’s own (or due to the victim’s association with a person of a particular) race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or disability. Such an assault is a felony when committed with the intent to inflict serious injury or when the defendant is armed with a dangerous weapon.
(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 708.2C, 729A.2.)
Intimidation with a dangerous weapon with intent to injure or provoke fear is a class C felony, punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 708.6, 708.8, 902.9.)
Intimidation with a dangerous weapon and being armed with a dangerous weapon with intent to use it against another (including hate crimes) are class D felonies, as is using or displaying a dangerous weapon to assault a protected employee. Penalties for class D felonies include up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $750 to $7,500.
Iowa also imposes a minimum sentence of five years for any forcible felony committed with a dangerous weapon.
(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 708.6, 708.8, 708.2C, 708.3A, 902.9, 902.7.)
If no other law applies, an assault committed with a dangerous weapon is an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of $625 to $6,250.
(Iowa Code Ann. § 903.1.)
Getting Legal Advice and Representation
A conviction for assault with a deadly weapon can result in a significant jail or prison sentence. Or, you could get the charges reduced or dismissed or obtain a not guilty verdict. An experienced Iowa criminal defense attorney will be able to help you navigate the court system and make the best arguments on your behalf. If you are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, you should contact an attorney immediately to begin preparing your best defense.