Iowa law defines dangerous weapons as those intended to cause injury or death, or that can be used to cause such results.
These types of instruments can include, but are not limited to:
Because dangerous weapons can cause substantial harm to another person, brandishing or using them is considered an offense. In fact, depending on your specific actions, you could be charged with several crimes.
Assault While Displaying a Dangerous Weapon
Generally, when you think of assault, you might think of conduct that causes physical injury to another. And while that's one way this offense can be committed, it also occurs when you point a firearm or display a dangerous weapon at someone.
If you're accused of assault use/display of a weapon, for the State to prove your guilt, it must demonstrate that you intentionally pointed the gun at the other person or that you displayed the weapon in a dangerous manner. Displaying a weapon in a dangerous manner means showing the other person you had the instrument on you and you did so to intimidate them.
Assault while displaying a dangerous weapon is an aggravated misdemeanor. If you're convicted of the offense, the court may sentence you to jail for no more than 2 years and may order you to pay a fine of up to $6,250.
This section of the assault law doesn't apply if either of the following two apply.
Going Armed with Intent
Suppose you're upset with someone. You equip yourself with your firearm or dangerous weapon and leave your house intending to use either on the other person. Your actions are prohibited under Iowa Code 708.8 – going armed with intent.
You didn't actually use the weapon on the other person, nor did you display it in their presence. Still, simply taking it from one place to another with the intent to use it is a crime. Now, it's important to note that merely having a loaded firearm on you isn't enough to infer intent. Thus, the State must prove you were going to use it against someone else.
If the prosecution does prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you went armed with intent, which is a class "D" felony, the court may impose a maximum prison sentence of 5 years and a maximum fine of $7,500.
Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon
Another offense you may be charged with for displaying or using an instrument that can cause injury or death is intimidation with a dangerous weapon.
The offense occurs when you do any of the following with a dangerous weapon at, into, or in a structure occupied by one or more people:
- Launch, or
You may also be accused of committing intimidation with a dangerous weapon if you threaten to do any of the actions listed above and others reasonably fear you can complete that threat.
The offense is a class "D" felony unless you intended to injure or provoke fear in others. In the latter instance, it can be charged as a class "C" felony. A conviction may result in up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
At Branstad & Olson, our Des Moines team has over 65 years of combined experience and will aggressively fight your assault charge. Discuss your case during a free consultation by calling us at (515) 329-3100 or contacting us online.