Domestic violence is a crime. The Johnson County Attorney's Office recognizes that domestic violence devastates victims, children, and the community at large. As a result we aggressively prosecute all cases of physical violence among family members in an effort to combat this unique and all too common crime. Safety and intervention for the victims and children who witness violence are our primary concerns.
Victims often feel responsible for involving the police and getting the defendant "in trouble" with the law. It is important for the victim to realize that it was the defendant's actions that caused the charges to be filed. The victim can take some comfort in knowing that it is the State of Iowa – not the victim – pressing charges. The victim's responsibility is one of a witness to a crime. While it may be difficult, the only requirement made of the victim is to tell the truth and appear in court when summoned.
If you have questions about your particular case, the no contact order or other issues you may come to the Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Drop in office hours held every Thursday at from 10am-12pm at the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, 417 South Clinton Street, Iowa City, Iowa. No appointments are necessary, but if you would like to call ahead to let us know you are coming call 319-339-6100.
- I just wanted him/her out of the house-why did he/she get arrested?
When a peace officer has probable cause to believe that a domestic abuse assault has occurred and they are required by law to arrest the person whom the peace officer believes to be the primary physical aggressor.
- Can I “drop the charges”?
No. After someone is arrested for domestic abuse the defendant or others close to the defendant often urge the victim to contact the County Attorneys’ Office and ask that the charges be dropped. This request may be accompanied with threats about what might happen or promises that this will “never happen again” or promises to seek help for alcohol, drug or anger management problems.
Domestic abuse is not just about the two people involved. Domestic Violence impacts the entire community. As the victim of crime, you certainly have the right to let the Assistant County Attorney know how you feel about your case. However, it is ultimately the decision of the Assistant County Attorney to decide how the criminal charges are pursued.
- How can I get the no contact order dropped?
Issues involving no contact orders are handled by the court. In Iowa, judges are required to enter a no contact order at initial appearance in domestic assault and certain other cases. Since the case is handled on behalf of the State of Iowa, it is not automatic upon your request that the no contact order would be dropped. It is up to the judge to make a determination whether the defendant poses a threat to your safety or the safety of other household members.
If you wish to have a no contact order lifted or modified the best thing to do is to drop into Domestic Violence Victim Assistance walk-in hours held Thursdays from 10am-12pm at the Johnson County Attorney’s Office. No appointment is necessary, but it is good if you call the office at 319-339-6100 to let us know you will be coming. You may also contact the Johnson County Attorney’s Office to see who is assigned to handle the case and discuss the process.
In a pending case, it may be several weeks before a hearing can be scheduled on your request, and the judge may or may not grant your request.
- Where do I report domestic violence?
If the situation is immediate, you need to call 911 to have an officer respond to help you. If you are trying to leave a dangerous situation and do not wish to involve law enforcement there are people who can help. Contact the Domestic Violence Intervention Program 319-351-1043 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
- Do I need an attorney?
You do not need to hire an attorney to handle the criminal charge(s) against the defendant.
- Do I have to come to court?
If you receive notice from the Sheriff’s Department or the County Attorney’s Office saying that you are subpoenaed to court, then you are under court order to appear in court. There may be some court dates that occur that you do not have to attend. You may always call your Victim Witness Coordinator to see if you are supposed to be in court or not.
- Who will be at court that can help me?
A Victim Witness Coordinator can help navigate you through the court process. You are also able to have a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate with you for all stages of the proceedings.