Attorney’s Office

Crimes Against Children

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The Iowa Code specifically provides that any sex act with a child under the age of 12 is a forcible felony. Upon conviction, the perpetrator is sent to prison for up to 25 years.

A sexual abuse perpetrated upon a child who is 12 or 13 years of age, will also, upon conviction, send an offender to prison for up to 10 years.

Iowa law provides that when a victim is 14 or 15 years of age and consents or engages in a sex act with a person who is four or more years older, it is in fact, a sexual abuse. Offenders, upon conviction of a sexual abuse with a child 14 or 15 years of age, could face up to 10 years in prison or the possibility of probation.

Several laws under the Iowa Code specifically address Lascivious Acts or Indecent Contact with a Child. These crimes include fondling or touching the pubes or genitals of a child or soliciting a child to do so with an adult. This conduct is criminal and could be punishable, in some circumstances, up to five years in prison.

In the last decade, the Iowa Legislature has provided for some protection of children as they proceed as victim- witnesses through adult criminal court. Upon application by the County Attorney to the Court that further harm would result to the child and that the child would be unable to testify, a child’s statement regarding the criminal assault, could be given outside the presence of a defendant and ultimately, a jury. This is accomplished by video taped or closed-circuit television testimony. This procedure, however, requires careful Court scrutiny in order to protect the rights of the accused as well as to protect the health of the child. The Court regularly engages in a balancing test in order to determine whether or not this procedure is necessary. Juvenile Court has different rules pertaining to the testimony of child victims.

Contrary to popular belief, the lack of knowledge of a victim’s age is no defense to a sexual abuse charge.

Persons who are aware of sexual abuse of children and/or who allow any continual abuse against children, may be subjected to Child Endangerment charges. Child Endangerment occurs whenever a person who has care, custody and control of a child acts or fails to act in a manner that would create a substantial risk to that child or minor’s physical, mental and/or emotional health or safety.

Contact Us

Polk County Attorney's Office
Polk County Justice Center
222 Fifth Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: (515) 286-3737
Fax: (515) 286-3428
Email: ctyatty@polkcountyiowa.gov