Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Sexual Abuse Charges in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » Sexual Abuse Charges in Iowa

Iowa code section 709 addresses the crimes of Sexual Abuse in Iowa.  Sexual abuse is the crime committed when a person engages in sexual acts with another person who does not or cannot consent to those sexual acts.


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Sexual Abuse Defined

Iowa Code Section 709.1 defines Sexual Abuse as any sex act between persons when the act is performed with the other person in any of the following circumstances:

1. The act is done by force or against the will of the other. If the consent or acquiescence of the other is procured by threats of violence toward any person or if the act is done while the other is under the influence of a drug inducing sleep or is otherwise in a state of unconsciousness, the act is done against the will of the other.


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2. Such other person is suffering from a mental defect or incapacity which precludes giving consent, or lacks the mental capacity to know the right and wrong of conduct in sexual matters.

3. Such other person is a child.

Sexual Abuse in the 1st Degree


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A person commits sexual abuse in the first degree when in the course of committing sexual abuse the person causes another serious injury. Sexual abuse in the first degree is a class “A” felony, punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole. It is worth noting that “serious injury” is rather broadly construed under Iowa law.

Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree

A person commits sexual abuse in the second degree when the person commits sexual abuse under any of the following circumstances:

1. During the commission of sexual abuse the person displays in a threatening manner a dangerous weapon, or uses or threatens to use force creating a substantial risk of death or serious injury to any person.

2. The other person is under the age of twelve.

3. The person is aided or abetted by one or more persons and the sex act is committed by force or against the will of the other person against whom the sex act is committed. Sexual abuse in the second degree is a class “B” felony, punishable by 25 years in prison.

Sexual Abuse in the 3rd Degree

A person commits sexual abuse in the third degree when the person performs a sex act under any of the following circumstances:

1. The act is done by force or against the will of the other person, whether or not the other person is the person’s spouse or is cohabiting with the person.

2. The act is between persons who are not at the time cohabiting as husband and wife and if any of the following are true:
a. The other person is suffering from a mental defect or
incapacity which precludes giving consent.
b. The other person is twelve or thirteen years of age.
c. The other person is fourteen or fifteen years of age and
any of the following are true:
(1) The person is a member of the same household as the other
person.
(2) The person is related to the other person by blood or
affinity to the fourth degree.
(3) The person is in a position of authority over the other
person and uses that authority to coerce the other person to submit.
(4) The person is four or more years older than the other person.

3. The act is performed while the other person is under the influence of a controlled substance, which may include but is not limited to flunitrazepam, and all of the following are true:
a. The controlled substance, which may include but is not
limited to flunitrazepam, prevents the other person from consenting
to the act.
b. The person performing the act knows or reasonably should
have known that the other person was under the influence of the
controlled substance, which may include but is not limited to
flunitrazepam.
4. The act is performed while the other person is mentally
incapacitated, physically incapacitated, or physically helpless.
Sexual abuse in the third degree is a class “C” felony, punishable by 10 years in prison.

Sex offender registration

Those convicted of sexual abuse in Iowa are required to register as a sex offender, often for many years or the remainder of their life. That sex offender registration requirement can impose serious restrictions upon where a person can live and work, both in the state of Iowa and in other states.

As the foregoing makes clear, sexual abuse charges in Iowa are a serious matter. For that reason, it is important for those charged with or accused of sexual abuse to properly handle the situation. I recommend anyone facing sexual abuse charges or accusations remain silent and promptly contact an attorney at once.


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