Justice Column

By: News Release
Mar 3rd, 2018

This 86th edition of Justice For All is the first in a series on the topic of domestic abuse assault.

Domestic abuse is a significant and serious problem. According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 6,431 reported cases of domestic violence in Iowa in 2016 alone. Furthermore, a number of homicides are the result of domestic disputes.

What makes an assault a “domestic abuse” assault is the concentration of this column with the next three columns placing a spotlight on the penalties for a defendant convicted of domestic abuse assault, the Iowa Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP), and the Safe at Home program (SAH).

An assault is any unjustified act intending to cause pain or injury to another or to result in or place another in fear of immediate physical contact which is insulting or offensive, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act in question. Intentionally pointing any firearm toward another, or displaying a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner also constitutes an assault.

Iowa Code Chapter 708.2A is specifically designed to address and criminalize domestic abuse assault. An assault becomes a domestic abuse assault when any one of the following four scenarios is true:

  1. The assault is between family or household members who resided together at the time of the assault.

  1. The assault is between separated spouses or persons divorced from each other and not residing together at the time of the assault.

  1. The assault is between persons who are parents of the same minor child, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time.

  1. The assault is between persons who have been family or household members residing together within the past year and are not residing together at the time of the assault.

An assault between persons in an “intimate relationship” isn’t considered criminal domestic abuse assault. However, these victims, along with all victims of criminal domestic abuse assault, may seek relief under Chapter 236 of the Iowa Code - The Iowa Domestic Abuse Act.

Chapter 236 offers victims of domestic abuse things that a criminal court can’t such as temporary child custody and visitation rights, victim and child support payments, rights to possession of a residence or a suitable housing alternative, court ordered counseling, and an award of attorney fees and court costs. The court can even grant a petitioner the right to exclusive care, possession, and control of any pets or companion animals and can forbid the respondent from taking or harming the pets / companion animals. All of this being in addition to the penalties imposed upon conviction a criminal conviction for assault or domestic abuse assault. The nature of domestic abuse assault penalties is the topic of next month’s Justice For All.