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Violent Crimes

Protection from violence is one of the key elements of criminal law. Therefore, the law is written to treat violence very seriously. Assault, robbery and other charges that include physical harm or the threat of physical harm have severe punishments in Iowa. Furthermore, these are crimes that bring the label “dangerous criminal” when potential employers, landlords and others see them on a permanent criminal record.

Accusations of violent crimes can easily be the result of false or exaggerated claims. A prosecutor might take a small scuffle and bring charges of felony assault. People who use physical force in self defense may fight themselves charged with a crime.

Des Moines Violent Crime Lawyer

At McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C., we fight for the rights of those accused of violent crimes in Polk County and the surrounding area. Timothy McCarthy and Aaron Hamrock will bring more than four decades of legal experience to your case. A skilled Des Moines violent crime lawyer can make a difference between liberty and years in prison. Call McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a consultation.

The criminal defense attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. are based in West Des Moines and represent people throughout Polk County, including Des Moines, Ankeny and Urbandale, Dallas County and across Iowa.

Iowa Violent Crimes Information Center

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Assault Charges in Iowa

Under Iowa Code 708.1, assault is defined broadly as any legally unjustifiable act:

  • Intended to cause  pain or injury or intended to result in offensive or insulting physical contact if there is an apparent ability to complete the act;
  • Intended to place another person in fear of painful, injurious, insulting or offensive physical contact, if there is an apparent ability to execute the act; or
  • Involving intentionally pointing or displaying in a threatening manner a firearm at another person.

The assault will be classified according to the circumstances and results of the assault. If the assault only intended to cause bodily injury or the fear of injury and did not actually cause the harm, then it is a simple misdemeanor. If it causes bodily harm or mental illness, however, it is a serious misdemeanor.

If the assault is intended to cause serious injury, or a deadly weapon was allegedly used, the charges may be upgraded to an aggravated misdemeanor. If it actually causes serious injury, then the charges may go up to a Class D felony. And if the alleged assault involves an object penetrating the genitals or anus could result in Class C felony charges. Assault charges can be upgraded if the alleged act was on a police officer, firefighter, corrections staff member, health care provider or certain other public employees.

Sometimes, a person who uses force to defend themselves may face criminal charges. Self-defense is an affirmative defense. In most cases, the defendant in a criminal case never has to prove anything. However, the defense must come forward with evidence to assert an affirmative defense.

In Iowa, a person may use reasonable force to defense against imminent unlawful force on their person or another, or to defend property. Your Des Moines criminal defense lawyer can show the jury how you were only using force to prevent harm.

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Other Violent Crimes in Polk County

Willful Injury (Iowa Code 708.4): Willful injury is a legally unjustified act intended to cause injury of another. Willful Injury is a Class D felony if the act causes injury and a Class C felony if the act causes serious injury.

Intimidation With a Deadly Weapon (Iowa Code 708.6): It is a crime to shoot, throw, launch or discharge a dangerous weapon or threaten to do so into a crowd, or into a building, vehicle or anything else occupied by people. Doing so with the intent of injuring or provoking fear or anger is a Class C felony, otherwise it is a Class D felony.

Harassment (Iowa Code 708.7): Harassment involves any of several actions intended to intimidate, annoy or alarm another person, including calling or emailing that person without any legitimate purpose. If the harassment involves a threat for a forcible felony or is the fourth or more time a person has been convicted in the prior 10 years, then harassment is an aggravated misdemeanor. If it involved a threat of bodily injury or is a third offense, it is a serious misdemeanor. Any other harassment charge is a simple misdemeanor.

Murder (Iowa Code 707.1): Murder is the killing of another person with malice aforethought, meaning the accused made a conscious decision to kill the person. If the killing was premeditated, if it occurred during another forcible felony, if it happened while the accused was running from law enforcement, if the victim was a police officer or a child who was also the victim of child endangerment, it is first degree murder, a Class A felony. Any other murder is second degree murder, a Class B felony, with a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Manslaughter (Iowa Code 707.4 and 707.5): If the accused caused the death of another, and it would be murder but the act was caused by serious provocation and there is no time between the provocation and the killing for the accused to consider his or her actions, then the charge is voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony. Involuntary manslaughter is the accidental killing of a person while committing a public offense other than a forcible felony or during escape (a Class D felony) or during an act that is likely to cause death or serious injury (an aggravated misdemeanor).

Disorderly Conduct (Iowa Code 723.4): Disorderly conduct involves fighting, making loud noises when it will cause unreasonable distress, using abusive language in a way likely to provoke a violent reaction, disturbing an assembly with the intent to disrupt, falsely making a fire report or setting off a fire alarm, or obstructing a street or sidewalk to keep others from using it. Disorderly conduct is a simple misdemeanor.

Kidnapping (Iowa Code 710): Kidnapping involves confining a person or taking that person from place to another without that person’s consent, when the intention is to inflict serious injury, torture or sexual abuse (Class A felony), hold that person for ransom (Class B felony), or any other unlawful purpose (Class C felony). If a dangerous weapon was involved, the charges are at least a Class B felony.

Robbery (Iowa Code 711): Robbery means that the accused, with the intent to commit a theft, causes or threatens to cause serious injury or is armed with a dangerous weapon (Class B felony) or otherwise commits an assault or threatens to commit any forcible felony (Class C felony).

Aggravated Assault: Aggravated assault is an unlawful attack by one person against another person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually involves the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Under the laws in Iowa, it is not necessary that the injury resulted from an aggravated assault when a gun, knife, or other weapon is used if it is proven that the use of the weapon could and probably would result in serious personal injury if the crime were successfully completed. 

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Punishment for Des Moines Violent Charges

  • Simple Misdemeanor: Up to 30 days in jail and a fine from $65 to $625
  • Serious Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in prison and a fine from $315 to $1,875
  • Aggravated Misdemeanor: Up to 2 years in prison and a fine from $625 to $6,250
  • Class D Felony: Up to 5 years in prison and a fine from $750 to $7,500
  • Class C Felony: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000
  • Class B Felony: Up to 25 years in prison
  • Class A Felony: Life imprisonment

Additionally, if a dangerous weapon was used or possessed during a forcible felony, then the minimum sentence is five years in prison.

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Finding an Attorney for Violent Crimes in Polk County, Iowa

The prosecution must prove all elements of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Your Des Moines violent crime lawyer can show the jury the reasonable doubt that exists in your case.

Our defense attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. will fight for you. When appropriate, our attorneys can file and litigate motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence. We can also fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 for a free consultation.