Q: How much force am I allowed to use with a weapon in Iowa if I’m acting in self-defense, or defending others, or protecting my home?
You can use reasonable force against someone when you reasonably believe that you or another person are in danger. “Reasonable force” is the amount of force that a reasonable person would judge to be necessary to prevent injury or loss. In some circumstances, deadly force may be reasonable. You can use reasonable force even if there is another course of action available, as long as the alternative course of action would risk your or another’s life or safety, or require you to abandon your home or work. You may also use reasonable force to defend your property.
If you injure someone who is threatening you or another by using reasonable force against them, you cannot be held civilly liable for that injury. However, the use of reasonable force will not keep you from being charged criminally—rather, you would use “reasonable force” as your defense after being charged. Furthermore, if the force you use is grossly disproportionate to the threat, the defense will be unavailable. It will also be unavailable if you provoked the threat to begin with.