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Sexual Assault

Forcing a sexual act on another person without their consent or because they are vulnerable, otherwise known as sexual assault, is a crime in the state of Iowa. A conviction could mean fines, restitution and even time spent behind bars. If certain factors are present in the case, you could be sentenced to a felony-level crime, which means you’ll be sentenced to prison.

Under Iowa’s Code, sexual assault or rape is referred to as sexual abuse. It can incorporate both inappropriate sexual contact as well as actual penetration or contact between sexual organs. The charge can be enhanced if certain facts are true and can lead to life altering penalties. If you or someone you know has been arrested for sexual assault, it’s imperative you seek an experienced sex crimes attorney immediately.

Sexual Assault Defense Attorney in West Des Moines, IA

If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual abuse or assault, then it’s time you act. A sexual assault conviction could lead to fines, restitution, rehabilitative programs and time in jail or prison. Depending on the circumstances, you could even be labeled as a sexual predator as a result. This means both your employer and peers could look up your status online at any time using Iowa’s sexual predator registry.

Fight back these charges by hiring McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our sex crimes lawyers have defended numerous clients accused of sex crimes for years. With our extensive techniques, resources and network our attorneys can assist you. Call us now at (515) 279-9700 to set up your first consultation free in the Polk County and Dallas County area including Ankeny, Altoona, West Des Moines, Adel and Waukee.

Overview of Sexual Assault in Iowa


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Definitions for Sexual Assault Under Iowa Law

It’s important you have an understanding of the definition for certain terms before learning about the penalties for sexual assault. Under the Iowa Code, a “sex act” is any sexual contact between two or more people that incorporates any of the following: 

  • Penetration involving genitals or the anus;
  • Contact between the mouth and genitalia or the anus;
  • Contact between fingers of one person and the genitalia or anus of another;
  • Ejaculation on another person; or
  • Using artificial sexual organs or substitutes in contact with the anus or genitalia

In Iowa, you’re considered to have committed “sexual abuse” if you had sexual contact between another person or persons that involved any of the following circumstances:  

  • The sexual act is committed against the other person’s will;
  • The other person gave consent after they were procured with threats of violence;
  • The act was done under the influence of a drug inducing sleep or in a state of deep unconsciousness such as being extremely inebriated;
  • The other person suffered from a mental defect or incapacity which makes them unable to give consent or understand what a sexual act means; or
  • The other person involved was a child under the age of 16 years old

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Sexual Assault in the Third Degree

The lightest charge you can receive for sexual assault is sexual abuse in the third degree. Although it’s not as harsh as the other sexual assault charges, a third-degree sexual abuse conviction isn’t anything to scoff at. If convicted, you could face a class C felony that carries a 10-year prison term and possible restitution costs. 

According to the Iowa Code, you are guilty of third-degree sexual assault if:

  • You committed a sex act against another person by force;
  • The victim was incapable of giving consent or there was a certain relationship between you and the victim. These specific factors listed under Iowa law include:
    • The victim was suffering from a mental defect or incapacity which doesn’t allow them to understand the sex act or give consent;
    • The victim was 12 or 13 years old;
    • The victim was 14 or 15 and you’re household member;
    • The victim is 14 or 15 and you’re a blood relative;
    • The victim is 14 or 15 and you’re in a position of authority which you used to coerce the victim into sexual acts; or
    • The victim is 14 or 15 and you’re 4 or more years older than the victim

Since sexual assault is a forcible felony, it carries a longer prison sentence minimum. However, if the sexual assault occurred in any of the following situations the court may grant probation. These exceptions include: 

  • Sexual assault between spouses; or
  • If the conviction for the felony sexual assault involved a victim that was 14 or 15 and you are five years older or more, but the act didn’t involve force or threats

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Sexual Assault in the Second Degree

A sexual assault crime has its penalties enhanced even further to an aggravated charge if certain facts of the case are proven to be true. Iowa law state you’re guilty of second-degree sexual assault if you:

  • Commit a sex act while presenting a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner;
  • Use or threaten to use force that would create a substantial risk of death;
  • The victim is under the age of 12; or
  • You aided and abetted another person in committing sexual assault 

The term “dangerous weapon” refers to any device that is used to inflict serious injury or death on another person. It must have the potential to be lethal to another person to be considered a dangerous weapon. Some examples include firearms, knives exceeding five inches or razors.

It’s also important to remember that being unaware of the victim’s age isn’t an admissible defense in Iowa’s courts. Sexual assault in the second-degree is a class B forcible felony with a mandatory required prison sentence of 25 years. 


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Sexual Assault in the First Degree

First-degree sexual assault is the highest charge you can receive. You could be charged with first-degree sexual assault if you commit sexual abuse and cause another person to sustain a serious injury as a result. The crime is a class A felony, which is the harshest sentence a person can receive in Iowa’s court system that can lead to a lifetime imprisonment without parole.

The term “serious injury” includes any of the following:

  • A disabling mental illness; or
  • A bodily injury that involves any of the following:
    • A substantial risk of death;
    • Serious permanent disfigurement;
    • Protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ; or
    • The injury was done to a child and requires surgery or general anesthesia 

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Additional Resources 

RAINN – Visit the official website for the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) to find resources for those struggling with sexual abuse. Access the site to learn survivor stories, penalties in your state, number to their national hotline and how to get help.

Iowa’s Laws on Sexual Abuse – Visit the official website for the Iowa Code to learn more about sexual abuse. Access the site to learn the definition of the abuse, penalties, inadmissible defenses and other related sex crimes.


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Defense Lawyer for Sexual Abuse in Dallas County, IA

If you or someone you know has been accused of sexual assault, we implore you to not waste time and hire an experienced attorney while you can. Sex crimes are nothing to take lightly as they are seriously prosecuted in the state of Iowa. We suggest you contact the attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. if you are in need of qualified legal counsel. 

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. has been practicing collectively for decades and understands what it takes to fight sexual assault allegations. With their skills and reosurces, McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can assist you. Set up an appointment now at (515) 279-9700 free in the Polk County and Dallas County area in Iowa.