Iowa Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences

Misdemeanors in Iowa are designated as aggravated, serious, or simple.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated April 20, 2023

Iowa, like all states, divides crimes into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by up to two years in local or county jail. More serious crimes (felonies) in Iowa are punishable by more than two years in state prison.

How Iowa Classifies and Punishes Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors in Iowa are designated as aggravated, serious, or simple.

Penalties for Aggravated Misdemeanors

Aggravated misdemeanors are the most serious class of misdemeanors, generally punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of between $850 and $8,540. Examples of aggravated misdemeanors include assault hate crimes, third-degree theft, and stalking.

Penalties for Serious Misdemeanors

A serious misdemeanor in Iowa is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of between $430 and $2,565. Examples of serious misdemeanors include second-degree harassment, carrying a gun or weapon while intoxicated, and animal neglect.

Penalties for Simple Misdemeanors

A simple misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $105 to $850. Possession of drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct, and hazing are simple misdemeanors.

Enhanced Felony Penalties for Repeat Misdemeanors in Iowa

Committing repeat misdemeanor crimes can result in felony charges in Iowa. For example, a third domestic abuse assault conviction increases from a misdemeanor to a class D felony. Repeat stalking convictions also carry enhanced felony penalties—a second conviction goes from an aggravated misdemeanor to a class D felony, and a third conviction is a class C felony. Other examples of felony enhancements include a second conviction for the following offenses: burglarizing a vehicle, elder abuse, and attending a dogfight.

(Iowa Code § 903.1 (2022).)

Iowa's Statutes of Limitations for Misdemeanors

Statutes of limitations set forth time limits for beginning criminal prosecution. The statute of limitations begins to "run" when the crime is committed. Usually, less serious crimes have shorter statutes of limitations. In Iowa, the general statute of limitations for most aggravated or serious misdemeanors is three years. Simple misdemeanors typically have a one-year limitation period.

(Iowa Code §§ 802.3, 802.4 (2022).)

Obtaining Legal Assistance

A criminal conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can have serious and lasting consequences. If you are charged with any crime, you should contact a local criminal defense attorney. A good attorney can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

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