Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Murder Charges in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » Murder Charges in Iowa

Murder is defined by Iowa law as the intentional killing of a person under certain conditions.  Iowa Code section 707.2 and 707.3 define the crimes of Murder in the First Degree and Murder in the Second Degree in Iowa as follows:


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First Degree Murder in Iowa

A person commits murder in the first degree when the person commits murder under any of the following circumstances:

1. The person willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation kills another person.


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2. The person kills another person while participating in a forcible felony.

3. The person kills another person while escaping or attempting to escape from lawful custody.

4. The person intentionally kills a peace officer, correctional officer, public employee, or hostage while the person is imprisoned in a correctional institution under the jurisdiction of the Iowa department of corrections, or in a city or county jail.


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5. The person kills a child while committing child endangerment under section 726.6, subsection 1, paragraph b , or while committing assault under section 708.1 upon the child, and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.

6. The person kills another person while participating in an act of terrorism as defined in section 708A.1.

Murder in the first degree is a class A felony in the state of Iowa, which carries a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Second Degree Murder in Iowa

A person commits murder in the second degree when the person commits murder which is not murder in the first degree.

Murder in the second degree is a class B felony, which carries a prison term of up to 50 years in prison.  This differs from most Class B felonies in Iowa, which only carry a 25 year prison term.

Handling Murder Charges in Iowa

Any case where a person has died is treated seriously by the prosecutors in Iowa, and the possible sentences are the most severe possible under Iowa law.  It should go without saying that properly handling a murder case is of the utmost importance, as a person’s freedom for the rest of their life is at stake.  As an attorney who has taken multiple murder cases to jury trial, I advise everyone who is accused of murder to immediately exercise their right to remain silent and seek an attorney at once.  Discussing the matter with the police, or  making statements to other people, can cause serious harm to a person’s case.


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