Alleged Torture, Abuse and Imprisonment in Iowa: First Degree Kidnapping and Willful Injury

KCCI News reported today on three members of a Council Bluffs family who have been charged with first-degree kidnapping as well as willful injury. The charges stem from activities reported by their 20-year old mentally handicapped family member.

The family member ran away from home on February 19, 2013 and when found by strangers, was taken to Joshua House, a shelter for homeless men. It is reported that he told a shelter worker that he was being deprived of basic necessities like food and use of a restroom.

Other allegations involve the his stepmother restraining him in a garage, sometimes overnight, with dog leashes and chains. Additional information claims that the stepmother burned him with hot silverware. The young man had multiple burns on his back, left forearm, inner thighs and groin area. One of these burns was reported to be consistent with a clothing iron.

The man’s stepmother has been charged with willful injury causing serious injury and the man’s father and stepbrother are both charged with first-degree kidnapping.  As the authorities investigate it is very possible the charges will be modified.

As it stands, all of these charges are serious and carry hefty punishments if convicted.  Kidnapping, found in Iowa Code Chapter 710 is defined as follows:

“A person commits kidnapping when the person either confines a person or removes a person from one place to another, knowing that the person who confines or removes the other person has neither the authority nor the consent of the other to do so; provided, that to constitute kidnapping the act must be accompanied by one or more of the following:

  1. Intent to hold the person for ransom
  2. Intent to use the person as shield or hostage
  3. Intent to inflict serious injury upon such person, or to subject the person to sexual abuse
  4. Intent tp secretly confine such person
  5. Intent to interfere with the performance of any government function.”

Iowa Code Section 710.2 specifically defines kidnapping in the first degree. Kidnapping is considered in the first degree when the person kidnapped, as a consequence of the kidnapping, suffers serious injury, or is intentionally subjected to torture or sexual abuse. Kidnapping in the first degree is a class “A” felony, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The only way a person may be released on parole after a Class “A” Felony conviction is if the Governor commutes the sentence to a term of years or if the defendant is a juvenile.

The stepmother is also facing a Willful Injury Causing Serious Injury charge under Iowa Code Section 708.4.  This is a Class “C” felony which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.  A conviction on this charge only requires that the alleged perpetrator does an act which is not justified and which is intended to cause serious injury and actually causes serious injury.

Police say that the victim’s father and stepmother deny the allegations.  It is very important to remember that persons charged with a crime are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt.

The three individuals are  in custody at the Pottawattamie County Jail, each being held at $100,000 bail.  These charges are serious and the charged individuals will need experienced and hard working attorneys to defend them.  If you or someone you love find yourself charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact the Stowers Law Firm.

Follow-up: Penalties and Consequences for Assault and Domestic Abuse Assault

In one of our previous posts, we discussed the difference between Assault and Domestic Abuse Assault and mentioned that a subsequent post would discuss the penalties and consequences of both.  

Iowa Code Section 708.2 contains the penalties for general Assault.  Here is a brief summary:
  1. Assault with the intent to inflict a serious injury upon another =  aggravated misdemeanor.
  2. Assault that causes bodily injury or mental illness = serious misdemeanor.
  3. Assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon = aggravated misdemeanor.
  4. Assault without the intent to inflict serious injury, but that still causes serious injury = class “D” felony.
  5. Assault using any object to penetrate the genitalia or anus of another person = class “C” felony.
  6. Any other assault = simple misdemeanor.
Iowa Code Section 708.2Acontains the penalties for Domestic Abuse Assault (“DAA”).  Here is a brief summary:
                For 1st offense:
  1. Domestic abuse assault = simple misdemeanor.
  2. Domestic abuse assault that causes bodily injury or mental illness = serious misdemeanor.
  3. Domestic abuse assault with the intent to inflict a serious injury upon another, or while using or displaying a dangerous weapon = aggravated misdemeanor.
                For 2nd offense:
  1. If 1st offense was a simple misdemeanor, and 2nd offense is a simple misdemeanor = serious misdemeanor.
  2. If 1st first offense was a simple or aggravated misdemeanor, and 2nd offense is a serious misdemeanor, or 1st offense was classified as a serious or aggravated misdemeanor, and 2nd offense is a simple or serious misdemeanor = aggravated misdemeanor.
  3. If 3rd or subsequent offense = class “D” felony.

**NOTE: an offense will be considered a prior offense even if it involved a different victim.**

While there are some similarities between the two types of offenses (i.e. bodily injury/mental illness = serious misdemeanor, intent to inflict a serious injury = aggravated misdemeanor, using/displaying a dangerous weapon = aggravated misdemeanor), the consequences for Domestic Abuse Assault have some additional nuances that the consequences for Assault do that.  For example, if a person is convicted of a Domestic Abuse Assault, he or she must serve a minimum term of 2 days, which is not eligible for suspension, and the court can impose harsher maximum sentences and fines.  After a 3rd or subsequent offense of Domestic Abuse Assault, a person is denied parole or work release until he or she serves a minimum of 1 year and is not eligible for a suspended or deferred sentence or a deferred judgment.  Furthermore, in some Domestic Abuse Assault cases, the court may enter, modify, or extend a no-contact order (potentially for a period of five years).  

Though this comparison does not address all of the similarities and differences, it hopefully points out that knowing the distinctions between the two are important, because even though the offenses themselves are quite similar (as discussed in the previous post), the punishment for Domestic Abuse Assaults is often much more extensive than it is for general Assaults.  If you are in need of more information on either type of offense, please visit the Stowers Law Firm.

Assault v. Domestic Abuse Assault: What’s the Difference in Iowa?

Iowa’s  legislature has defined Assault in Iowa Code Section 708.1, which states in relevant part:
“An assault as defined in this section is a general intent crime.  A person commits an assault when, without justification, the person does any of the following:
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.
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.
3.       Intentionally points any firearm toward another, or displays in a threatening manner any dangerous weapon toward another…”
Thus, In Iowa an Assault occurs between any two or more individuals who engage in the conduct prohibited by Iowa Code Section 708.1.  Domestic Abuse Assault in Iowa, on the other hand, occurs between individuals who engage in the aforementioned prohibited conduct who are also involved in or have previously been involved in a specified domestic relationship as set forth in Iowa Code Section 236.2(2)(a-d).  Those domestic relationships include:

a.       Family or household members who resided together at the time of the assault.
b.      Separated spouses or persons divorced from each other and not residing together at the time of the assault.
c.       Persons who are parents of the same minor child, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time.
d.      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.
Basically, in Iowa, Domestic Abuse Assault is the same as an Assault except that it occurs between people involved in specified domestic relationships.  That said, the penalties and consequences for Domestic Abuse Assault differ from those associated with general Assault.  We will cover the different ways Iowa punishes Domestic Abuse Assault and general Assault in a subsequent post.  If you are in need of immediate information please visit the Stowers Law Firm.