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Iowa Court Records

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Felony, Misdemeanor, and Infractions in Iowa

There are two classes of crime in the State of Iowa, and they are - felonies and misdemeanors.

According to the state's criminal laws, felonies are crimes that are punishable by a jail sentence in state prison for at least two years.

Misdemeanors are less severe crimes and attract less punishment than felonies. Where misdemeanors are concerned, the criminal law in Iowa imposes a maximum of two years jail sentence as opposed to one year in other states in the US.

The state does not classify infractions as a crime but merely as breaching city rules and regulations. 

The Iowa Penal Code contains full information about the classes of crime, the punishment for each offense, and few exceptions.

Iowa criminal cases are heard by the state’s criminal courts. Interested members of the public may request and obtain Iowa criminal court records from the court where the hearing took place.

What is a Felony in Iowa?

The state of Iowa recognizes felonies as the most severe category of crime. They attract the most severe punishments and can be detrimental to an individual's reputation.

In Iowa, felonies are classified into four categories. The punishments of each felony class are distinct from each other. The laws of the state of Iowa ascribe punishment based on how serious each crime is perceived to be. The four classes of Felony in Iowa are;

  • Class A Felonies,
  • Class B Felonies,
  • Class C Felonies, and
  • Class D Felonies.

The penal code in the state of Iowa describes Class A felonies as the most severe and Class D felonies as the least severe crimes. Therefore, Class A felonies attract the most severe punishment, and Class D the least serious.

What are some Examples of Felonies in Iowa?

Based on each class, here are some examples of felonies and the punishment they attract;

Class A felonies:

A convicted felon in this category will be required to serve a lifetime in state prison. However, the state's governor may commute the prison sentence.

Examples of Class A felonies in Iowa include:

Sexually assaulting an individual and causing severe injuries in the process (Iowa Code § 902.1 (2019).)

Class B felonies:

For Class B felonies, convicted individuals are liable to serve up to 25 years in state prison. 

Examples of Class B felonies include attempted murder, second-degree kidnapping, homicide as a result of DUI, first-degree burglary, and sexual abuse in the second degree (Iowa Code § 902.9 (2019).)

Class C felonies:

Class C felonies attract a prison sentence plus payment of fines. Convicted individuals are likely to spend up to ten years in state prison and will pay a fine of between 1,000 USD and 10,000 USD. 

Examples of crimes labeled as Class C felonies include thefts of property worth more than 10,000 USD (Iowa Code § 902.9, (2019).)

Class D felonies:

A Class D felony, being the least severe type of felony in Iowa, attracts a sentence of five years in state prison or less. The person convicted will also be required to pay a fine of between 750 USD and 7,500 USD.

Examples include: cultivating up to 50 kilograms of marijuana (Iowa Code § 902.9 (2019).)

In Iowa, some felonious crimes attract special fines, backed by the state's criminal statutes. An example is seen in the case of an individual convicted of selling between 100 to 1000 kilograms of marijuana. In this case, the court can require the convict to pay a fine of up to 100,000 USD plus a prison sentence. (Iowa Code § 124.401, (2019).)

The criminal laws in Iowa detail a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a period range for which a state is supposed to begin prosecution for a felony. Once the time limit is reached, a prosecutor will no longer be able to press criminal charges.

The statutes of limitations for each crime differ.

In Iowa, the statute of limitations for most felonies is three years. Very severe crimes have longer statutes of limitations, and a murder crime does not have a statute of limitations.

A felony charge can be dismissed if defendants employ good lawyers. 

The latter can put up compelling arguments to defend them in court. It is always advisable for individuals to seek the help of certified attorneys.

In Iowa, defendants who plead guilty to felony charges may be granted deferred adjudication as opposed to being convicted.

Can an Individual get a Felony Removed from a Court Record in Iowa?

Yes! However, the options are minimal, and it all depends on certain factors.

In Iowa, both juvenile and adult felony records can be sealed. Sealing felony records prevents the public from accessing them without a court order. It is worth noting that law enforcement and other governmental agencies may be able to access them.

Convicts must meet certain conditions before they are eligible to seal felony records. A person is qualified:

  • if the person is 18 years old, or if the criminal case ended two years prior,
  • if there are no pending felony charges, and
  • if the individual did not receive a youthful offender status and was sentenced after being referred back to court at the age of eighteen.

The state of Iowa automatically removes most juvenile felony convictions from individuals' criminal records once they reach twenty-one. Individuals convicted of an aggravated felony, as at the time they were aged 18 to 21 years, will be required to request expungement as an adult.

For adults, Iowa's revised criminal laws permit the expungement of some felony arrest records. The waiting period is 180 days for individuals who meet the following criteria;

  • Acquittal by a court
  • Dismissed charges 
  • Granted deferred adjudication and completed probation

Generally, most non-conviction felony records can be expunged while convicted felony records are eligible for expungement if;

  • The individual was convicted of an offense induced by alcohol that the state categorizes as eligible.
  • The individual was granted deferred adjudication and completed probation.

Just to reiterate, conviction felony records can only be expunged if;

  • The crime is alcohol-induced.
  • The individual obtains a deferred judgment and completes probation.

Expungement removes all felony convictions from a person's criminal record.

Is Expungement the Same as Sealing Court Records in Iowa?

No! Expungement and sealing a court record are two different things in Iowa. In Iowa, expungement does not erase the criminal history of convicts, but it seals their court files. Criminal records are open to the public; therefore, potential employers can have access to them. The Iowa State's FOIA laws also give third-party organizations the right to publish criminal records for public view.

How Long Does a Felony Stay on an Individual's Record in Iowa?

It all depends on the nature of the felony offense. For example, felony stemming from alcohol usage may be expunged after two years if the individual files for expungement. However, they must maintain a clean criminal record during the two-year waiting period. 

For non-conviction felony records, individuals will have to wait 180 days from the day they are acquitted, or the case will be dismissed for applying for expungement.

If individuals do not file for expungement, a felony will remain on their criminal records for life except in the case of some juvenile crimes.

What is a misdemeanor in Iowa?

The state of Iowa defines a misdemeanor as any crime that attracts a prison sentence of up to two years in county or local jail. Misdemeanors are regarded as less serious crimes in the state and attract less strict punishments than felonies.

There are three classes of misdemeanor in Iowa. They are:

  • Aggravated Misdemeanors,
  • Serious Misdemeanors, and
  • Simple Misdemeanors.

In Iowa, aggravated misdemeanors are the most severe class of misdemeanors, while simple misdemeanors are the least severe classes. 

Aggravated misdemeanors attract the most severe punishments, while simple misdemeanors attract the least.

What are some examples of misdemeanors in Iowa?

Based on the different categories of misdemeanors in the state, here are some examples of misdemeanors;

Aggravated Misdemeanors:

Anyone convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor in Iowa will serve up to two years in jail and will be expected to pay a fine of between 625 USD and 6,250 USD. 

Examples of aggravated misdemeanors include; illegal possession of a weapon (Iowa Code § 903.1 (2019).)

Serious Misdemeanors:

In Iowa, any individual convicted of a severe misdemeanor will be required to serve up to one year of jail time and pay a fine of between 315 USD and 1,875 USD. 

Examples of serious misdemeanors include; inflicting assault on an individual that leads to physical injury or mental illness (Iowa Code § 903.1 (2019.)

Simple Misdemeanors:

Individuals will spend up to thirty days in jail or pay a fine in the range of 65 to 625 USD if they are convicted of a simple felony. In some instances, they may be obligated to do both. 

Examples of simple misdemeanors include possessing the drug "paraphernalia" (Iowa Code § 903.1 (2019).)

As in the case of felonies, misdemeanors also have a statute of limitations. In Iowa, both aggravated and serious misdemeanors have a time limit of three years. A defendant can file for a case dismissal within that time. Simple misdemeanors have a time limit of a year. (Iowa Code §§ 802.3, 802.4 (2019).)

Defendants can be acquitted of a misdemeanor charge if their lawyers can put up a good argument and prove their innocence in court. Deferred adjudication may also be granted to defendants who plead guilty.

Can an Individual Get a Misdemeanor Removed from a Record in Iowa?

Yes. Generally, most simple misdemeanors can be removed from a person's record in Iowa.

As with felonies, the conditions of conviction and non-convictions for adult crime also apply with misdemeanors. The requirements for sealing juvenile felony records also apply to juvenile misdemeanor crimes.

Records will not be qualified for expungement if;

  • A criminal case is dismissed because of individuals being found not guilty because of insanity or incompetence to stand trial, (Iowa Code § 901C.2 (2018).)

In Iowa, individuals who detect errors in their criminal records can have them corrected. Individuals will need to contact the state's Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Can a DUI Be Expunged in Iowa?

Yes! Individuals can have Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions expunged in Iowa if; 

  • They were granted a deferred judgment in court and completed probation. 

Persons must have paid all the necessary fees that are required of them.

However, expungement does not automatically erase a DUI conviction from a person's record. Some bodies, such as media publication houses and law enforcement agencies, will still have access to information on a person's DUI criminal charges regardless of successful expungement.  

In Iowa, the Department of Motor Vehicles is not affiliated with the court. It is, therefore, not bound by court laws. Therefore, DUI will remain on an individual's driving record for twelve years, at least.

What constitutes an Infraction in Iowa?

In Iowa, infractions are termed "municipal infractions," "civil offense," or "county offense."

The state defines a municipal infraction as a civil offense that attracts a civil penalty as its punishment. The penalty is usually a fine of no more than 300 USD per violation. 

In the case of multiple or repeated offenses, the civil penalty does not exceed 500 USD per repeat. This definition means that the only punishment for a municipal infraction is the payment of a fine.

The state of Iowa does not consider a municipal offense a crime. This means that; individuals who are found guilty of a municipal offense will not be subjected to a court trial or spend time in jail.

What are some examples of Infractions in Iowa?

In Iowa, the acts that violate city or county laws are considered infractions. Examples of these acts include:

  • Disobeying any traffic laws such as overspeeding, not wearing a seatbelt and
  •  Other laws such as:
    • An obstruction which involves resisting or opposing police officers from discharging their work duties, and
    • Littering the floor.

Can Infractions be Expunged from an Iowa Criminal Court Record?

No! Infractions are not crimes under Iowa law; therefore, they are ineligible to be considered for expungement. Only criminal acts are considered for expungement under certain circumstances in the state of Iowa.

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