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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Age of Consent in Iowa

Age of consent refers to the time in life at which a person can legally partake in sexual activity. If a person engaged in sexual relations with someone below the legal age, it would classify as statutory rape- even if they gave permission.

The age of consent in Iowa is 16 years old. Any person over this age (and otherwise mentally sound) is considered legally capable of having consensual sexual intercourse. Along with more than half of the USA, Iowa is amongst the states with the lowest age of consent. The oldest age requirement is 18, which 11 US states currently enforce.

Information provided on the Tom Fowler Law site aims to provide guidance and answer questions regarding general Iowa law. However, for a specific answer regarding an active or potential case, contact the highly recommended injury attorneys from Des Moines at Tom Fowler Law.

Specific Iowa Age of Consent Laws: Sexual Abuse and Statutory Rape

Specific Iowa Age of Consent Laws: Sexual Abuse and Statutory Rape

Each state uses different terminology and determines charges under varying parameters. Charges and convictions range from state to state, with Iowa landing at the more lenient end of the scale regarding jail time.

Statutory rape offenses are classified under Iowa Law in the following ways:

  • Sexual abuse in the second degree- Sexual activity with a child younger than 12 years of age in Iowa is a class-B felony and carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison. Child rape cases in Iowa fall into this category, and offenders in serious crimes may be required to undergo chemical castration to qualify for parole.

  • Sexual abuse in the third degree- Sexual activity with a child between 12 and 15 years old is a class-C felony. If a person commits sexual abuse in the third degree, it carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of between $1000 and $10,000. Third-degree sexual abuse applies to victims aged 14 or 15 only when the defendant is more than four years older or a relative.

  • Sexual exploitation of a minor- Persuading, in any way, a child below the age of consent to perform or engage in a sexual act that is somehow recorded for future viewing, personal or otherwise, is a class-C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Iowa law may also include a sexual act with a minor (excluding sexual intercourse) under this section.

  • Lascivious acts with a child- Depending on the nature of the act, this can be either a class-C or class-D felony. Any person over 16 years old who engages in inappropriate touching with a child or solicits any sexual activity between children or a child and other party is committing an illegal act punishable by up to five years in prison.

  • Sexual ex

Criminal cases involving one or more of these charges qualify as a statutory rape conviction and legally earns a person the title of sex offender. If a person becomes pregnant as a result of a sex offense, read the Iowa abortion laws to determine how you are wanting to move forward with the pregnancy.

Other Important Details

There are various misdemeanor charges under Iowa consent law that may also earn a person jail time and a place on the sex offender register, including lascivious conduct and indecent contact with a child. Either of these charges carries a punishment of one year in prison and a potential fine.

Additionally, no school employee can be involved in any sex act with a student, regardless of age, within 30 days of attending the school. If a student is 17 years of age and the school employee is 21 years of age, it cannot be considered consensual sexual activity, even though both partners are over 16. If a student is younger than 16, the penalties are higher.


In Iowa, there are some exceptions to the standard statutory rape laws. Every case is approached individually. The following exemptions may not always apply, but they can be used as part of a defense.

Close in Age Law

If the victim is 14 or 15 years old and the defendant is less than 2 years older, charges may not apply. A person of this age can engage in consensual sex under Iowa law if they are no more than 48 months younger than their partner.

This age exemption law is in place to protect young people who are close in age and possibly both minors from criminal prosecution.

Romeo and Juliet Law

Similar to the close in age exemption, the Romeo and Juliet law applies to teens who may choose to partake in sexual activities with a fellow student or other person who is not much older than them. Where the laws differ are the rules regarding age difference.

Teens can have sex with a person up to four years older than them without and still qualify as giving legal consent. If a 14 and a 17-year-old have sex, they can avoid charges. However, a 14 and 19-year-old cannot.

Circumstances surrounding a case involving two parties within four years of each other may still qualify as illegal sexual contact. The older party could be charged with sexual assault, which is why a lawyer should be contacted immediately if any legal action is taken.


Some states have marriage exemption laws to protect married couples. Regardless of age, partners in a marriage cannot be convicted. This law does not apply in Iowa, as the legal age of content for marriage is 18 or 16 with parental consent.

Seeking Legal Advice

Seeking Legal Advice

The Iowa age of consent is 16 for any type of sexual contact. The only exceptional circumstances are when two young people who are close in age engage in sexual activity but with mutual consent. Any person involved in a statutory rape charge should contact a lawyer for legal advice.

Both the victim and defendant in any case concerning the age of consent in Iowa are entitled to confidentiality as part of the attorney-client relationship. The information provided on this site provides an overview of the Iowa age of consent and the relevant statutory laws. A lawyer can answer all questions about a specific case.

At Tom Fowler Law, every attorney works tirelessly on behalf of a client. They ensure your case is heard and justice received.

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