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What Is the Law of Self-Defense in Iowa?

Defendants who are facing assault or homicide charges in Iowa can sometimes argue successfully that they acted in self-defense. According to Iowa law, a person is justified in responding with reasonable force when they have a reasonable belief that doing so is necessary to defend themselves, or another person, from an immediate threat of unlawful force. This rule contains two main limitations on the use of force to defend oneself: the threat one is facing must be immediate, and the force used in response must be reasonable.

Reasonable force is defined in the law as the minimum level of force a reasonable person would consider necessary to prevent an injury or loss in similar circumstances. Reasonable force can include deadly force if there is no alternative available.

A person facing an imminent threat of force has a duty to retreat before responding with force, unless retreating would put their own life or safety, or that of a third person, at risk.

The duty to retreat does not apply, however, if the imminent threat of violence takes place in a person's own home, or place of business or employment.

Finally, the use of force in self-defense is not justified in certain circumstances, such as when the person claiming self-defense provoked the other person to use force, either by their own unlawful act, or in order to create an excuse to harm the other person.

Self-defense law is more complicated than many people realize, and what is justified in another state may not be justified in Iowa. A person facing criminal charges who wants to assert self-defense as a justification for their actions should carefully consider the limitations of the self-defense law.

Source: Iowa Legislature, "Iowa Code § 714.2," accessed Jan. 2, 2017

Categories
  • The Iowa State Bar Association
  • DUI Defense Law
  • NACDL
  • AAJ
  • Iowa Association of Justice

Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger 

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  • J. Dean Keegan
  • Eric D. Tindal
  • Andrea D. Jaeger
  • J. Dean Keegan J. Dean Keegan

    Owner

    Decades of Award-Winning Legal Service J. Dean Keegan was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. After high school, Dean served ...
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  • Eric D. Tindal Eric D. Tindal

    Attorney

    Highly Rated Criminal Defense in Iowa City Eric D. Tindal, attorney at Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, graduated from the University ...
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  • Andrea D. Jaeger Andrea D. Jaeger

    Attorney

    Experienced Criminal Defense in the Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities Andrea D. Jaeger practices in the areas of white collar ...
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    Henry County FECR005634. Attorney Tindal’s client was charged with First Degree Murder and Child Endangerment Causing Death. Following a two week trial, the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.

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    Muscatine County FECR050038. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with two counts of controlled substance violation, as well as two counts of failure to affix tax stamp. After a year of court appearances and negotiating with the prosecutor, all charges were dismissed with costs assessed to the State.

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    Linn County AGCR108044. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with Carrying Weapons, Public Intoxication, and Disorderly Conduct. After plea negotiations with the State, Mr. Keegan was successful in dismissing the Carrying Weapons and Public Intoxication charges.

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    Iowa County FECR010358. Attorney Tindal was able to show the Court that his client was detained in violation of his Constitutional rights and that the K9 utilized in the search was unreliable. Following hearing all charges were dismissed.

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    Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa. An employee of a Cedar Rapids business accused of embezzling six million dollars was not charged criminally after the County Attorney agreed to abide by an agreement negotiated by Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerald Kinnamon in which the accused would pay two million dollars to the company.

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    Washington Count FECR5351. Attorney Tindal and Attorney Clemens Erdahl successfully argued that evidence of drug manufacture was obtained in violation of the Constitution. All charges were dismissed.

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    Linn County OWCR104143. Attorney Dean Keegan's client was charged with a felony 3rd offense OWI. Mr. Keegan argued the officer did not have reasonable grounds to pull over his client. The charges were dropped from a felony to a ticket fine of $15.00 for being in a park past closing time.

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