Iowa Code section 719.1 defines the crime of Interference with Official Acts as follows:
A person who knowingly resists or obstructs anyone known by the person to be a peace officer, emergency medical care provider under chapter 147A, or fire fighter, whether paid or volunteer, in the performance of any act which is within the scope of the lawful duty or authority of that officer, emergency medical care provider under chapter 147A, or fire fighter, whether paid or volunteer, or who knowingly resists or obstructs the service or execution by any authorized person of any civil or criminal process or order of any court, commits a simple misdemeanor. In addition to any other penalties, the punishment imposed for a violation of this subsection shall include assessment of a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars. However, if a person commits an interference with official acts, as defined in this subsection, and in so doing inflicts bodily injury other than serious injury, that person commits an aggravated misdemeanor. If a person commits an interference with official acts, as defined in this subsection, and in so doing inflicts or attempts to inflict serious injury, or displays a dangerous weapon, as defined in section 702.7, or is armed with a firearm, that person commits a class “D” felony. . . The terms “resist” and “obstruct”, as used in this section, do not include verbal harassment unless the verbal harassment is accompanied by a present ability and apparent intention to execute a verbal threat physically.
At the above section of the Iowa code makes clear, interference with official acts can be charged as a simple misdemeanor, an aggravated misdemeanor, or a D felony under most cases. (Note that under Iowa law, a person who is under the control of the Department of Corrections (e.g. in prison) and commits interference with official acts faces more severe penalties.) The simple misdemeanor version, which is the most common, carries up to 30 days in the county jail and a mandatory fine of at least $250. The aggravated misdemeanor version of interference with official acts in Iowa carries up to a 2 year prison sentence, while the D felony version can result in a 5 year prison sentence.
In my experience, the interference with official acts charge is often overused by Iowa police officers who are looking for some crime to charge but cannot find anything else. For example, I have represented clients who were doing nothing other than verbally stating that an Iowa police officer’s actions in arresting another person were improper, and as a result were charged with interference with official acts. Such charges, while baseless, are sadly common.
A person who is charged with interference with official acts in Iowa should exercise their right to remain silent and seek an attorney at once, as it is important to properly handle such a case. That is especially true in situations where the charge is without factual merit.