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Domestic Violence

Arguments can quickly get out of control. Misunderstandings can lead to accusations of violence or threatening behavior. You might even be attacked, and be forced to defend yourself. Minor acts may become exaggerated. Sometimes, perhaps most hurtfully, a loved one may make something up entirely to gain an unfair advantage in a child custody proceeding or other legal matter.

Domestic violence accusations lead not just to jail time and fines, but other civil matters that can significantly impact your life — even if you are not convicted.

Domestic Violence Lawyer in Des Moines, Iowa

If you face domestic violence charges, a Des Moines domestic violence lawyer at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can represent you in all matters, including against the charges, in protection order hearings and if you are accused of violating a protection order. At McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C., our criminal defense attorneys have nearly 50 years of experience representing those facing criminal allegations. You can have that experience on your side.

An attorney can help you deal with the immediate problems after the arrest such as asking the court to lift the “no contact” provision so that you can make arrangements to see your children, manage your finances, and help your family during this difficult time.

We represent clients facing domestic violence charges across the Des Moines area, including Ankeny, Urbandale, Johnston and anywhere in Polk County or Dallas County. We are based in West Des Moines, and defend clients across the state of Iowa.

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


Iowa Domestic Violence Information Center


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Iowa Domestic Abuse Charges

Assault is touching with intent to cause pain or injury, putting another in fear of pain or injury with the apparently ability to carry out the threat, or pointing a firearm at a person or otherwise displaying a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner. Assaulting any person is illegal.

However, when assault happens between people with a certain relationship, it is called domestic abuse assault. Those relationships, under Iowa Code 236.2, can include:

  • People who live in the same household;
  • People who are members of the same family;
  • Former spouses currently separated or divorced;
  • Parents of the same child;
  • People who have been members of the same household or family within the past year;
  • People in an intimate relationship; or
  • People who have been in an intimate relationship in the past year.

Domestic abuse assault can including allegations of child abuse, if accused of violently beating your child.

Iowa Code 726.3 also defines child neglect or abandonment, defined as knowingly or reckless exposing your child to a danger. It is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $1,000 to $10,000 fine.

The same statute also applies in the case of elder neglect, if you have custody of an infirm parent.


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Punishment for Domestic Abuse Assault Charges in Polk County

Domestic abuse assault carries special penalties and mandatory minimum punishment that increase after prior offenses.

  • The first offense is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine from $65 to $625, unless there was injury or mental illness caused, in which the charges are a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine from $315 to $1,875. If there was serious injury, the charges go up to an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine from $625 to $6,250.
  • On the second offense, however, the charges go up. A charge that would be a simple misdemeanor becomes a serious misdemeanor. A serious misdemeanor becomes an aggravated misdemeanor.
  • For a third or any subsequent offense, the charges become a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine from $750 to $7,500.

Additionally, if convicted of a first or second offense, you are required to spend at least two days in jail. For a third or subsequent offense, you spend at least a year in prison.

However, you may be able to receive deferred judgment, in which you are not convicted. The court will usually require you to enter a batterers’ treatment program. Your Des Moines criminal defense lawyer can advise you on whether this is an option, whether it is a good one for you and can work with prosecutors and judges to help you achieve this.


Attorney for “Dating Violence” Crimes in Des Moines

Closely related crimes can involve dating violence. Dating violence is defined in Iowa as violence by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

  •  The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
  •  The type of relationship; and
  •  The length of the relationship.

Related offenses including stalking which is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.


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Protection Orders in Des Moines Domestic Violence Cases

Alleged victims of domestic violence can seek a protection order. If you’re the subject of the order, it can dramatically impact your life. It can prevent you from going near or even communicating with the victim. It can prevent you from going to the victim’s work or school. It can change custody arrangements. It can move you out of your house or force you to provide housing for the victim or provide financial support.

The victim can seek an emergency order that lasts 72 hours in a hearing that may not include you, as the accused. To get a longer-lasting order, however, he or she must go through a hearing where you can be represented by an attorney. Your attorney can argue why the order is unwarranted. The hearing occurs between five and 15 days of the accusation, so it is important to act quickly.

If arrested for violating a protective order, you could be jailed for seven days.


No Contact Orders in Domestic Violence Cases in Iowa

Iowa Code §664A.3 (2007) requires the Court to issue a no-contact order at the initial appearance if the judge finds probable cause that a defendant has committed domestic abuse assault or violated a no-contact order, protective order, or consent agreement and that the defendant poses a threat to the safety of the victim or member of the victim’s family.

When obtaining a protective order, the prosecutor will often ask the court to inquire of defendants on the record if they are in possession of firearms or ammunition and to identify the firearms possessed. Prosecutors might also ask for the following:

  • an order to surrender custody of such firearms and ammunition to the sheriff;
  • for the Court to order the defendant not to possess a firearm while the order is in effect; and
  • a request that the Court tell the defendants they are prohibited from possession of firearms and ammunition consistent with 18 U.S.C. 922 (g)(8)&(g)(9).

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Attorney for Domestic Abuse in Polk County, Iowa

Domestic violence charges are heartbreaking, but also carry very serious penalties. A Des Moines domestic violence lawyer can help protect your rights, and be on your side during these difficult times.

At McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C., we will fight for you. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a free consultation.