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Firearms / Weapons Offenses

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

- Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Despite the words of the Second Amendment, the Iowa Legislature has passed laws abridging the freedom to carry arms and harshly regulating who can carry weapons and where they can carry them. Sometimes those laws go too far.  

Despite having one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths, Iowa has one of the highest rates of gun ownership. A recent study shows that about one-third of adults living in Iowa own at least one firearm.

Attorney for Weapon Crimes in Des Moines, Iowa

If you face any charges relating to weapons or firearms, you have a right to have an experienced attorney for weapon and firearm crimes representing you at every stage of the case.

At McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C., our criminal defense attorneys have more than four decades of combined legal experience in fighting for the rights of the accused. We will work to suppress illegally obtained evidence — even the weapon itself — which may lead to your charges being reduced or dismissed. Our attorneys will pretrial motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges not supported by sufficient evidence. 

The attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. are also experienced trial attorneys who can argue to the jury why there is reasonable doubt in the case that requires a "no guilty" verdict. We represent those facing gun charges throughout Polk County and Dallas County, including in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Urbandale, Johnston, and Ankeny. We also represent those facing weapons and firearms charges across the state of Iowa.

Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a free consultation.


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Offenses Involving Firearms and Weapons in Iowa

The most commonly prosecuted weapon crimes in the State of Iowa include: 

Other types of crimes are subject to enhanced penalties if a weapon or firearm was used to commit the crime including: 


Definition of the term "Firearm" in Iowa

Under Iowa law, the term "firearm" is defined as any instrument which will or is designed to discharge a shot, shell, projectile or bullet by the force of a chemical explosive such as gunpowder. A firearm is a dangerous weapon.

The definition of "dominion and control" is ownership or right to the firearm or offensive weapon and the power or authority to manage, regulate or oversee its use.


Possession Of Offensive Weapon

To prove the offense of possession of an offensive weapon under Iowa Code section 724.1, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant possessed a weapon;
  2. the defendant knew that he or she possessed the weapon;
  3. the weapon was an offensive weapon.

Under Iowa law, the term "knowingly" in the weapon statute merely requires that the defendant had knowledge that he or she possessed the weapon within the general meaning of such term. The prosecutor for the State of Iowa does not have to prove that he or she knew that the weapon was "offensive" as statutorily defined. 

The crime of possessing an “offensive weapon” can be charged as a Class D Felony. A Class D felony is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a potential fine of $750 to $7,500, plus 35% criminal surcharge and court costs.


Going Armed With A Concealed Weapon

To prove the offense of possession of an offensive weapon under Iowa Code section 724.4, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant was armed with a weapon;
  2. the weapon was concealed on or about the defendant's person;
  3. the weapon was a dangerous weapon. 

Under Iowa law, a weapon is concealed if it is not "discernible by ordinary observation". Concealment does not depend on a defendant's subjective intent. If concealment is an issue, an instruction defining the term may be given.


Going Armed With A Pistol / Revolver / Loaded Firearm Within City Limits

To prove the offense of possession of an offensive weapon under Iowa Code section 724.4, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant was armed with a pistol, revolver, or loaded firearm; and
  2. the defendant was within the city limits of the city. 

Under Iowa law, the term "go armed" is defined to mean that the defendant was aware of the weapon and it was in a place where it was readily accessible to the defendant.


Carrying Pistol/Revolver In a Vehicle

To prove the offense of possession of an offensive weapon under Iowa Code section 724.4, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

 


Trafficking In Stolen Weapons Used In Commission Of A Public Offense

Under Iowa Code section 724.16A, to prove the offense of possession of an offensive weapon under Iowa Code section 724.4, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:


Unlawful Possession of Weapon

Under Iowa Code 724.4, it is illegal, an aggravated misdemeanor, to carry a concealed weapon or carry a firearm within city limits unless any of the following conditions apply:

Possessing a knife used in the commission of a crime or that has a blade longer than eight inches is also an aggravated misdemeanor. If the blade is between five and eight inches, it is a serious misdemeanor.

Carrying a weapon on a school ground is a Class D felony.


Unauthorized Possession of an Offensive Weapon

Under Iowa Code 724.3, for some weapons, it is always illegal to possess them unless you have special authorization, such as you are a peace officer or a member of the military. Those weapons include:

Carrying such a weapon is a Class D felony.


Trafficking in Stolen Weapons

Under Iowa Code 724.16A, knowingly selling or otherwise transferring any firearms that has been stolen is a Class D felony for a first offense and a Class C felony for a second offense. It is a Class C felony for a first offense if that weapon is used in the commission of a crime.


Minors and Firearms

Under Iowa Code 724.22, it is against the law to sell, give or allow use of a firearm or ammo to any person younger than 21 unless the minor's parent gives consent for a rifle or shotgun, or are supervising a minor 14 or older while using a pistol. The offense is a serious misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class D felony for any subsequent offense.

It is a serious misdemeanor to leave a firearm without a trigger lock in an unsecured location where a reasonable person would know a person younger than 14 might find it if a minor does find it and either uses the weapon illegally or displays it in an unsafe manner.


Possession of Firearm by Felon

Under Iowa Code 724.26, if you have ever been convicted of a felony in any state or federal court, it is a Class D felony to knowingly possess or transport a firearm.


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Punishment for Polk County Weapons Offenses

The penalties and punishments for firearm and weapon charges in Iowa depend on a host of factors including the item possessed, whether any injury occurred and whether the defendant has a prior criminal record. 

Weapons charges may be in addition to any other charges you may face, like robbery or assault charges. If convicted of all charges, you may face punishment for those, as well.


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Defense of Gun Charges

Unlike some provisions of the Constitution, the Second Amendment has not been heavily litigated before the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the few cases that have made it, like Miller v. Texas, have largely upheld state laws regulating firearms, although the recent D.C. v. Heller case did strike down and extreme ban. It is unlikely that citing your Second Amendment rights will provide an effective defense if charged with a weapons offense.

However, there are defenses available that your Des Moines criminal defense lawyer can use. For instance, the prosecution must still prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt, including, for some offenses, that you did everything "knowingly."


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Additional Resources

Armed Citizen Project: The Armed Citizen Project is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help citizens in neighborhoods with higher crime rates obtain firearms for their protection.

Gun Owners of America: GOA is a nonprofit that lobbies Congress to restore and protect Second Amendment rights.

National Rifle Association: Founded in 1871, the NRA promotes ownership of firearms and lobbies Congress and other legislative bodies for Second Amendment rights.


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Attorneys for Firearms Charges in Polk County, Iowa

If you face charges for illegally possessing a firearm or any other weapons offense, an experienced Des Moines weapons charges lawyer from McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can help you protect your rights and beat the charges.

The attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. in Polk County, Iowa, represent clients charged with the violation of laws or ordinances dealing with weapons offenses that are often regulatory in nature. Weapon crimes can involve the manufacture, sale, or possession of deadly weapons. Related offenses including carrying deadly weapons, concealed or openly; furnishing deadly weapons to minors; and aliens possessing deadly weapons.

We will put our four decades of legal experience to work for you. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a free consultation.


This article was last updated on Friday, July 7, 2017.

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