Sexual Abuse 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree

1st Degree Sexual Assault

Sex Abuse in the First Degree:  When in the course of committing sexual abuse, the person causes another serious injury.

Serious injury includes:

  • Disabling mental illness;
  • Bodily injury which does any of the following:
  • Creates a substantial risk of death;
  • Causes serious permanent disfigurement;
  • Causes protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
  • Injury to a child that requires surgical repair and necessitates the administration of general anesthesia.

Penalty:  First Degree Sex Abuse is a Class A Felony requiring life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

2nd Degree Sexual Assault

Sex Abuse in the Second Degree: Four Separate Alternatives

  • Commits sex act while displaying a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner;
    • Dangerous weapon is “any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon another, AND which when used is capable of inflicting death upon a human.  This includes among other things, any offensive weapon such as a firearm, knife having a blade exceeding five inches, or razor.
  • Use or threatening to use force that would create a substantial risk of death to any person;
    • Actual injury is not necessary just a real danger of death or serious injury.
  • Victim under the age of 12; or
    • Knowledge of age is completely irrelevant.
  • Aiding and abetting another in committing sexual assault through force or against the will of the victim.

Penalty:  Sex Abuse in the Second Degree is a Class B forcible felony requiring mandatory prison sentence of 25 years.  It is also subject to the 70% rule for certain forcible felonies meaning that the individual must serve 70% of his/her time before even being eligible for parole.

Also carries with it the “special sentence” requirement which places the individual in the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for the rest of his/her life and in essence the individual is on lifetime parole which can be revoked and a 2 year term of imprisonment for a violation may be imposed for a first offense and 5 years for each subsequent offense.
Second Offense for Sexual Assault 2nd or 3rd Degree requires life imprisonment.

3rd Degree Sexual Assault

Sex Abuse in the Third Degree: Is divided into two subsections:

  • Commits a sex act against another by force or against the will not rising to the level of First or Second Degree; and
  • Alleged victim is incapable of consent or there is a special relationship between the defendant and alleged victim.  This subsection is broken down into 6 additional subsections:
    • Alleged victim is suffering from a mental defect or incapacity which precludes the person from giving consent;
    • Alleged victim is 12 or 13 years of age;
    • Alleged victim is 14 or 15 and the defendant is a member of the same household;
    • Alleged victim is 14 or 15 and the defendant is related by blood or affinity to the 4th degree;
    • Alleged victim is 14 or 15 and the defendant is in a position of authority and uses it to coerce the participants submission; or
    • Alleged victim is 14 or 15 and the defendant is 4 or more years older than the alleged victim.

Penalty:  Sex Abuse in the 3rd Degree is a Class C Felony carrying with it a 10 year term of imprisonment as it is a forcible felony.  However, two theories of Sex Abuse in the 3rd Degree are not forcible felonies and the court can grant probation.  These include:

  • Sexual abuse between spouses; or
  • If the conviction for felony sexual assault involves an alleged victim that is 14 or 15 and the defendant is more than 5 years older and the “sexual assault” was not by force or against the will of the alleged victim.
  • Sexual Abuse in the 3rd Degree is also subject to the “special sentence” of lifetime parole.
  • A second offense for felony Sexual Abuse in the 3rd Degree requires life imprisonment.
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