Call us 24/7: (515) 279-9700

Stalking, often confused with harassment, is a serious crime under Iowa Law. Governed by Iowa Code Section 708.11, stalking carries with it the possibility of a felony conviction and as many as 10 years in prison.

Des Moines Defense Attorneys for Stalking

Stalking in Iowa

Back to top

Stalking Definition

Stalking is defined by three key principles:

Course of Conduct

Prosecuting attorneys must prove that the accused repeatedly maintained a visual or physical proximity to a person without legitimate purpose, repeatedly utilizing a technological device to locate, listen to, or watch a person without authorization or legitimate purpose, or repeatedly conveying oral or written threats. This includes threats implied by conduct, or a combination thereof, directed at or toward a person. This includes contacting immediate family members like a spouse, parent, child, sibling, or anyone else that regularly lives with the targeted person.

Fear of Injury

Fear of Injury means that the stalker operates in such a manner that is intended to terrorize, frighten,  intimidate or otherwise cause fear of sexual or physical injury to the victim.


Stalkers must have knowledge that that their actions will cause the desired effect. Stalkers must act in such a way that deliberately causes fear of injury to the victim via repeated (two or more) contact with the victim or immediate family.

Back to top

Punishments for Stalking

Aggravated Misdemeanor:

1st Offense. Punishable by up to 2 years in prison and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000.

Class “D” Felony:

Stalking in Violation of a No Contact Order, Stalking With a Dangerous Weapon, Stalking a Minor. Punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $500 to $7,500 fine.

Class “C” Felony: 3rd Offense:

Punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $500 to $10,000 fine.

No Contact Order:

A judge may issue a No Contact Order requiring that the defendant have “no contact” with the victim or the victim’s family or household members. The order will be effective for 5 years and can be renewed.

Back to top

Common Defenses Against Stalking in Iowa

A defense lawyer may focus on a few areas to prove innocence.

Lack of intent:

A lawyer may seek to prove that their client did not intend to cause distress or fear for the victim. Intent is a large factor in deciding stalking cases. A lawyer must approach intent in two ways:
First, if they agree that their client did follow or track the victim, they may argue that their client never intended harm.
Second, the lawyer must prove that the victim did not have reasonable cause to believe that the client would bring the victim harm.

Isolated behavior:

Another tactic may be to prove that, while their client did engage in possible stalking, the provided incidents were isolated and not indicative of a pattern of behavior. In order for harassment to be upgraded to the crime of stalking, the court must prove that the accused engaged in behavior associated with stalking on at least two separate occasions.

First amendment rights:

Finally, a lawyer may seek to prove that their client’s actions fall within their legal first amendment rights as a citizen, and do not constitute stalking. Everyone has the right to express themselves within a legal limit. There may be times when one person in an adverse relationship must have contact with the other for legal, business or other reasons.

Back to top

How a Lawyer Can Help

A good defense lawyer will help their client navigate the difficult project of refuting stalking charges. Defense lawyers may help their clients track down information regarding their activities, locating witnesses and other aspects related to refuting stalking charges.

Back to top

Additional Resources

Attorney General’s Stalking Pamphlet – This guide provide an overview of what stalking is and its penalties. The pamphlet also provides information for victims on how to spot stalking and stay safe in the event of suspecting stalking.
Family Crisis Center – This guide also provides information for victims and families on how to spot and combat stalking in the state of Iowa.

Back to top

Hire a Stalking Defense Attorney in Des Moines | McCarthy and Hamrock

If you face accusations of any kind of sex crime, an experienced Des Moines sex crime lawyer could make the difference between liberty and lifelong shame. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. will take on the toughest sex offense cases, whether they be state or federal in Polk County and Dallas County. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a free consultation.

Back to top