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Are Criminal Records Public In Iowa?

By Iowa Code Section 692.2, Iowa criminal records are not public records and are, therefore, not available to members of the public. However, the subject of the record, as well as the following persons can access Iowa criminal records:

  • Criminal or juvenile justice agencies
  • An individual or public or private agency 

The latter’s access is subject to certain restrictions. The request for Iowa criminal records must be made using a form provided by the department to law enforcement agencies and approved by the commissioner of public safety. The request must also be sent by mail and must specify the name and date of birth of the individual in question.

Regardless of this, some Iowa criminal records can only be obtained by a criminal or juvenile justice agency and the subject of the criminal record or the person’s attorney. Such records include:

  • Criminal records that do not comprise of any disposition data after eighteen months from the date of arrest
  • Criminal records of dismissals or acquittals as a result of insanity
  • Criminal records of judgments of mental incompetence to stand trial in cases where physical or mental injury or an attempt to cause physical or mental injury to another was alleged
  • Criminal records about a person who has successfully completed probation after a deferred judgment

The Iowa Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is the central repository where interested persons can obtain Iowa criminal records.

What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Iowa?

An Iowa criminal record is an official compilation of a person’s arrest information, convictions, disposition data, correctional information, and custody details. It is the entire criminal history of an individual. An Iowa criminal record general contains:

  • The biographical data of the subject, including full name and date of birth
  • Identifying information on the subject, including race, ethnicity, height, gender, hair color, eye color, and other unique identifiers like tattoos and piercings 
  • A mugshot and a set of fingerprints 
  • Criminal convictions
  • Pending dispositions
  • Outstanding warrants
  • Custody information 
  • Adjudication data

How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Iowa?

Interested persons can obtain copies of Iowa criminal records from the Criminal History Record Dissemination Unit of the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). The Unit provides various options for requesting Iowa criminal records, including mail, fax, in person, and online requests. It, however, does not receive requests by email or phone. To request by mail or fax, complete both the Criminal History Request Form and the Criminal History Billing Form, and submit to:

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation

Support Operations Bureau 1st Floor

215 E 7th Street

Des Moines IA 50319

Fax:  515.725.6080

Note that each name requested requires a different Request Form and payment. However, several requests may be submitted using only one Billing Form. Third-party requesters may need to obtain a signed release authorization letter from the subject of the record. Also, ensure to state a United States address or fax number on both the request and billing form, or the request may not be processed.

Walk-in requests require the requester to provide a government-issued photo I. D. Card. Third-party requesters may also be required to leave the request for processing, and receive the results by mail at a later date. Visit the DCI office during business hours from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 4 pm for walk-in requests. The office is located at 215 East 7th Street, Des Moines, Iowa.

The Division of Criminal Investigation also provides a website for interested persons to search for Iowa criminal records online. The fee for each Iowa Criminal Record is $15 per search. The acceptable mode of payment for online and faxed Iowa criminal record requests is by credit or debit card. However, requests by mail or in person may make payment by cash, money orders, check, or credit or debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and Discover).

How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Iowa?

The Criminal History Record Dissemination Unit charges $15 for each copy of an Iowa criminal record. The price is the same whether the request is made online, in person, by fax, or via mail. The Unit makes no provision for indigent citizens to obtain an Iowa criminal record for free. However, if the requester is seeking a criminal record on behalf of a potential employer, the employer will pay the fee. This stipulation is mandated by law. In such cases, the requester does not have to pay any fee and receives the certified copy of the Iowa criminal record for free.

How To Search Criminal Records Online In Iowa?

The Division of Criminal Investigation provides a website for interested persons to search for Iowa criminal records online. The required information to search includes the subject’s first and last name, the date of birth, and gender. However, providing the subject’s middle name and social security number may narrow down the results. The cost for each criminal record is $15. 

Note that the criminal records information provided online are do not require a signed release authorization letter from the subject of the record. However, certified Iowa criminal records require a signed waiver, which must be submitted in person, by mail, or via fax.

Interested persons may also search for criminal case files on the Iowa Courts Online Search portal. The portal allows users to search for Iowa criminal case files by name, case ID, or citation number.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In Iowa?

By Section 901C of the Iowa Code, charges that ended in a not guilty verdict or dismissal, as well as misdemeanor convictions, may be expunged under certain conditions. To be eligible for the expungement of an Iowa criminal record if there was no conviction, the petitioner must meet the following criteria:

  • The court dismissed all the charges or the petitioner was acquitted
  • The petitioner has paid all the court costs, fees, and other monetary obligations ordered by the court or evaluated by the clerk of the district court
  • A minimum of 180 days has passed since the court dismissed the charges or acquitted the petitioner. Note that the court may choose to waive this requirement if it finds a good cause. Such good cause may be the fact that the petitioner was the victim of mistaken identity or identity theft.
  • The court did not dismiss the case because the petitioner was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • The petitioner was not found incompetent to stand trial in the case.
  • The dismissal was not related to a deferred judgment 

To expunge a misdemeanor conviction, the petitioner must meet these requirements:

  • Eight years have passed following the date of the conviction.
  • There are no pending charges against the petitioner
  • The petitioner has not been previously granted an expungement order
  • The petitioner has not been granted two deferred judgments previously
  • The petitioner has paid all the court costs, fees, restitution, fines and other monetary obligations ordered by the court or evaluated by the clerk of the district court

However, not all misdemeanors can be expunged. Some of the misdemeanors that can not be expunged include:

  • Stalking
  • Trespass with intent to commit a hate crime
  • Bestiality
  • Any protection of family crimes such as bigamy or child endangerment
  • Interference with the judicial process
  • Misconduct in office
  • Any domestic abuse assault
  • Rioting
  • Misuse of public records and files
  • Any weapons offense
  • Any sexually predatory offenses
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Any registerable sex offense
  • Assault using or displaying a dangerous weapon

Convictions of some alcohol-related offenses may also be expunged under Section 123.47 of the Iowa Code. The qualifying criteria for such expungement include:

  • Two years have elapsed following the date of the conviction
  • The petitioner has no other criminal convictions, other than simple misdemeanor violations or local traffic violations during the two years

To expunge an Iowa criminal record, file a written petition or an Application to Expunge Court Record with the court where the charges were filed. Upon submission, the court may, at its discretion, grant or refuse the request with or without a trial. 

How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In Iowa?

Iowa law only allows the sealing of juvenile criminal records. By Iowa Code § 232.150, a court may seal a juvenile record in the case of an adjudication of delinquency. For the court to seal the juvenile record, the following conditions must be met:

  • The petitioner is eighteen years old or older
  • Two years have passed since the petitioner turned eighteen or since the date of the last official action, whichever is later
  • The petitioner was not subsequently convicted of a felony or a serious or aggravated misdemeanor. 
  • The offense was not a felony or a serious or aggravated misdemeanor. Nonetheless, the court may choose to seal the record of an aggravated misdemeanor if it believes that sealing the record is in the best interest of the subject and the public
  • There are no pending proceedings against the petitioner
  • The petitioner was not put on youthful offender status, transferred back to the adult court after the petitioner’s birthday, and sentenced for the offense that necessitated the youthful offender placement
  • The petitioner was not adjudicated delinquent on a violation relating to operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs 

Qualified persons may file a petition for sealing the Iowa juvenile record with the applicable court. The court may also decide to seal the record on its motion without an application from the subject.

Who Can See My Expunged/sealed Criminal Record In Iowa?

An expunged Iowa criminal record is confidential and inaccessible by the general public. It is, however, not deleted. The clerk of the district court retains a nonpublic copy of the expunged criminal record and grants access to the record on receiving an order of the court. The subject of the record and the following persons can access the expunged record on request and without a court order:

  • Justices of the supreme court
  • District and court of appeal judges
  • County attorneys
  • The department of public safety
  • Judicial magistrates
  • Clerks of the district court
  • District associate judges

A sealed Iowa criminal record, on the other hand, is deemed to be nonexistent. The state court administrator decides if the agencies having possession of the record maintains or destroys the record. The juvenile court that issued the sealing order, however, retains a nonpublic copy of the record.

The court and agencies having a copy of the sealed record are to deny the existence of the record upon inquiry. However, the subject of the record may access the sealed record at any time. The court may also, at its discretion grant, access to the sealed Iowa criminal record to persons conducting valid research under such conditions as the court may deem fit.

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