What Is the Difference between Domestic Assault and Assault?

Domestic Assault vs. Assault 

Aside from the obvious answer, “One is domestic and the other is not,” a majority of people do not understand the ramifications of pleading to a domestic assault versus pleading to an assault. To start, an assault in Iowa has many legal definitions. Two of the most common definitions are listed below:

  1. Any act which is intended to cause pain or injury to, or which is intended to result in physical contact which will be insulting or offensive to another, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act. (In other words, this means any intentional action that would cause someone pain or did cause someone to offensively touch another person.)
  2. Any act which is intended to place another in fear of immediate physical contact which will be painful, injurious, insulting, or offensive, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act. (In other words, this means any overt action that would cause a reasonable person fear of being injured or fear of being touched inappropriately). (I should note that the person making the offensive or injurious action must be in the immediate vicinity of the alleged victim.)

Simply put, in today’s age, an assault can be just about anything where another person becomes “scared” of being hurt. As long as serious injury (by legal definition) isn’t caused you are most likely looking at a misdemeanor charge (there is an exception). A misdemeanor assault charge causing bodily injury carries up to 1 year in the county jail and a $2,560.00 fine. A misdemeanor assault charge intending serious injury carries up to 2 years in prison and an $8,540.00 fine. A misdemeanor assault charge where no injury occurred carries up to 30 days in jail and an $855.00 fine.

Now if the “assault” becomes a “domestic assault,” penalties increase if you are convicted. No matter what level of domestic you are convicted of, you will be required to complete the Iowa Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP). This is at least a 24-week program and you will be expected to pay the costs of each class (generally about $30 per class). Further, there is a mandatory two (2) days in jail if you are convicted of any domestic abuse assault misdemeanor in Iowa. You will also lose your gun rights and have the stigma of being a domestic abuser. Aside from a no-contact order being placed against you preventing you from going back to your own house, this can significantly impact your ability to get or keep, a job.

So you ask, what makes an assault a domestic assault? See the following:

  1. An assault is committed as defined by law, and any of the following are true:
  2. The assault is between family or household members who resided together at the time of the assault.
  3. The assault is between separated spouses or persons divorced from each other and not residing together at the time of the assault.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

If you committed an assault and either a, b, c, or d is true then you have committed the crime of domestic assault in Iowa. As stated earlier the ramifications for domestic assaults are much heavier than just an assault. It is important to speak with a lawyer right out of the gates to get you going on the right path. A lot of criminal defense lawyers offer free initial consultations; I would highly recommend you meet with a couple of different lawyers and then pick one who you see fits best with your personality. I handled a lot of domestic charges and understand that this is a highly stressful situation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at (515) 996-4441 and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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