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Iowa Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

It is well-known that sexual activities, like rape and sexual assault, are against the law. It is not as well-known that some consensual sexual activities are prohibited by law, as well. Perhaps, it is also not well-known that states have used anti-sodomy laws to criminalize sexual activity between same-sex partners.

Sexual Activities Laws

Some voluntary sexual activities are regulated under state consensual sexual activity laws, although Iowa has fewer than most. Normally, these prohibitions reflect the social and political norms of the state population at the time the laws were created. Therefore, some sexual activity laws are subject to change over time.

While anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in many states, they can no longer be used to criminalize sexual activity between consenting same-sex partners. They can no longer be used in this way because of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

In that year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Lawrence v. Texas. In that case, a man challenged his conviction in Texas for violating an anti-sodomy law in that state. For having sex with another man in the privacy of his own home, he was convicted of violating that law. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional and unenforceable. In the wake of that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, all anti-sodomy laws became unconstitutional and unenforceable, as they apply to consenting adults.

As a consequence, Iowa has no anti-sodomy law. However, laws in Iowa do prohibit indecent exposure and prostitution.

Consensual Sexual Activity Laws in Iowa

The chart below lists the laws related to sexual activity in Iowa.



HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

Under Iowa Code 915.42, a person convicted of a sexual offense must submit to HIV testing upon the victim's request and an order from the court.

Indecent Exposure

Under Iowa Code 709.9, indecent exposure is a crime. Offenses are treated as a misdemeanor. Examples of offenses qualifying as indecent exposure are "flashing" and public sex. Other offenses qualifying as indecent exposure can even include non-public exposure if the person exposing themselves intends the act to be seen by other people.

Prostitution & Other Related Offenses
  • Under 725.2, pimping is a crime. Offenses are treated as a class C or class D felony, depending on the specifics of the offense.
  • Under 725.1, it is a crime to engage in acts of prostitution. The offense of working as a prostitute is treated as an aggravated misdemeanor. However, if someone pays for the services of a prostitute that is under the age of 18, that person is guilty of a class D felony.
  • For more information about laws against prostitution and other related offenses, consider reviewing FindLaw's page on the subject.
Age of Consent
  • Under most circumstances, the age of consent in Iowa is 16.
  • The offense of engaging in sexual activity with someone under the age of consent is referred to as statutory rape in most states.
  • For more information about statutory rape, consider reviewing FindLaw's page on the subject.

Note: State laws are constantly changing by newly passed legislation, higher court rulings, and by a variety of other means. Consider conducting your own research or contacting an attorney to verify the laws of your state.

Iowa Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources

As noted above, state sex laws can vary. They are apt to change over time. You can find additional articles and resources on this topic in FindLaw's section on Sex Crimes. You can also consult with an Iowa criminal defense attorney in your area if you have been charged with a crime or if would like legal advice regarding a sex crime issue.

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