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Iowa Warrant Search

An Iowa warrant is a legal document signed and issued by a magistrate or judge authorizing law enforcement officials to arrest a person or search a person or place. Without a warrant, actions like these are considered illegal or in violation of a person's constitutional rights. In Iowa, warrants can only be issued based on probable cause. Probable cause is based on facts (not necessarily absolute proof) or reasonable belief that a crime has been committed.

Interested persons may perform an Iowa warrant search to find information about warrants issued within state limits. Persons who do a warrant search can expect to find information about the subject, the location of the place to be searched, and items to be seized (depending on the type of warrant). 

In Iowa, warrant lookups can be performed in person at local law enforcement agencies or the offices of county sheriffs or court clerks. Government-operated websites and other privately owned websites can also provide warrant search services to members of the public. 

Are Warrants Public Records in Iowa?

Yes. Warrants are public in Iowa per the Iowa Open Records Law unless otherwise stated by statute or court order. According to Iowa Code § 804.29, all documents, such as affidavits and citations, filed with the court to establish grounds for probable cause are confidential.

The Open Records Law gives any interested member of the public the right to inspect and make copies of warrants from law enforcement agencies and other relevant custodial offices. Iowa warrant searches can be done online or in person. 

Generally, warrants are only open after execution, i.e., the subject has been arrested or searched. A warrant can be closed if its subject makes an initial appearance in court or gets a defense attorney to help them resolve the warrant. Warrants are part of a person's Iowa criminal record. Confidential warrants are only accessible to persons authorized by court order and the following entities:

  • An employee of the county sheriff's office or other custodial offices
  • A peace officer 
  • An attorney appointed by the court
  • A judicial officer
  • Certain enforcement officials. 

Types of Warrants in Iowa

There are different types of warrants in Iowa, each having distinguishing features that set them apart from the others based on their administrative and judicial purposes. They also differ based on issue prerequisites. The main types of warrants issued in Iowa are as follows:

  • Bench Warrants: This kind of warrant is issued by a court, ordering the arrest or detention of a person who failed to appear in court during a court date, refused to pay child or spouse support, disobeyed a court order, or failed to pay court fines/fees. They are also issued when people on probation breach the conditions of their probation. An issuing judge/magistrate does not require probable cause to issue a bench warrant. Bench warrants do not expire.
  • Search warrants: A search warrant is issued by a competent judicial officer and authorizes a law enforcement official to search a specific place, person, or automobile for criminal evidence. Unlike bench warrants, they expire and are issued based on probable cause. Search warrants are issued and executed in compliance with the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects citizens from unreasonable breaches of their privacy rights.
  • Arrest Warrants: A judge/magistrate issues an arrest warrant based on probable cause, which establishes grounds that the warrant's subject has involvement in criminal activities, ordering their arrest by law enforcement officials. To obtain an arrest warrant, a law enforcement official has to submit a written affidavit, given under oath, to the issuing judge/magistrate.
  • Material Witness Warrants: This type of warrant is issued when there is a need to bring a person before the court to provide testimony in a criminal hearing. An Iowa material witness warrant differs from an arrest warrant in that it is not issued based on probable evidence. A material witness warrant is typically issued when a person is believed to have witnessed a crime or has information about a crime.

What is a Search Warrant in Iowa?

An Iowa search warrant is a written order authorizing a peace officer to search premises, things, or persons. They are issued and executed per the provisions of Section 808.3 of the Iowa Code. An Iowa search warrant also authorizes the placement and monitoring of a global positioning system (GPS) device.

A search warrant may be issued for the seizure of:

  1. Property whose possession is deemed unlawful
  2. Property obtained in violation of law
  3. Property concealed to keep an offense hidden
  4. Property possessed with the intent of usage in committing a public offense
  5. Property that is relevant as evidence in a criminal prosecution.

A law enforcement official may appeal to a magistrate for the issuance of a search warrant by submitting a written application. The application should also be supported by an oath of affirmation that covers information, facts, and circumstances that sufficiently function as probable cause. The application must also contain identifying information about the person, place, or object to be searched or seized. 

If the magistrate finds probable cause, they issue the warrant signed by their office name, directing a peace officer to conduct the search or seize the properties of concern and bring them before the magistrate. A search warrant can be executed during the day or at night and must be returned to the issuing magistrate after execution. During the execution of a search warrant, a peace officer may reasonably detain and search persons at the designated place at the time of the execution if need be.

Generally, a search warrant must be executed within 10 days of issuance. Failure to execute a search warrant within the specified period voids the warrant. However, the issuing judge or magistrate reserves the right to extend the validity period of a search warrant if need be. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Search Warrant?

The timeline required to obtain a search warrant varies from a few hours to a few days, depending on how quickly an officer can convince a judge that a person, premises, or residence needs to be searched. The credibility of the source of information is also an important determining factor. 

What is an Arrest Warrant in Iowa?

An arrest warrant is a written order issued by a judge/magistrate with competent jurisdiction approving the arrest of an individual whom they have probable cause to believe is responsible for committing a criminal offense (Section 804 of the Iowa Code). 

Before an arrest warrant is issued, a complaint must be filed before a magistrate, informing them of a public offense committed in the magistrate's legal jurisdiction. It must contain sufficient evidence to establish probable cause to convince a reasonable person that an offense has been committed. If the offense for which the complaint is made is public, the magistrate may issue a citation instead of an arrest warrant. 

An arrest warrant is typically addressed to any peace officer in the state and contains details like the subject's name (if known), the date the warrant was issued, a general description of the offense in question, the city or county where it was issued, and the signature of the issuing magistrate. If the offense is bailable, the warrant may include an order for bail. In Iowa, an arrest warrant can be executed at any time of the day or night. After executing an arrest, the peace officer must return the warrant to the issuing magistrate.

  • A warrant is not always needed for an arrest. A peace officer may execute an arrest without a warrant if they happen to be at the scene when an offense was committed. 

Arrest Warrant Lookup in Iowa

In Iowa, an arrest warrant lookup is a process used to verify if there is a warrant for a person's arrest. Inquirers may visit local law enforcement agencies like the police department or the court in the jurisdiction where the warrant may have been issued to conduct a warrant lookup. At these offices, an inquirer will need to provide the name of the subject of the requested warrant. 

Many police departments and county sheriffs provide warrant lookup services on their websites. Similarly, superior court websites typically provide an online searchable database for arrest warrant lookups. In addition, Iowa arrest warrant lookups can be performed using third-party websites. Keep in mind, however, that information obtained from third-party websites may need to be certified and/or verified as they operate independently of government custodians.

How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant in Iowa

Different kinds of warrants can be issued for an individual in Iowa. They include arrest warrants, bench warrants, search warrants, probation warrants, extradition warrants, fugitive warrants, and alias warrants. Regardless of the kind of warrant, interested persons can learn about active warrants in their name via several means. Finding and resolving these warrants on time is important to avoid unpleasant experiences with the criminal justice system. 

For one, requesters may contact the county sheriff's office or the local police department of whatever county or city they believe the warrant was issued. The contact information of all Iowa county sheriffs is available in the sheriffs' directory. These officials can provide non-confidential information regarding active or outstanding warrants and how to resolve them. 

Some county sheriffs (like the Black Hawk County Sheriff and Mills County Sheriff) provide online warrant search platforms, eliminating the need for in-person visits. A statewide Iowa warrant search can also be performed online. 

Furthermore, a person may visit the clerk's office in the court where they have an ongoing legal proceeding to ask about any warrants issued in their name. Alternatively, obtaining a criminal history record may also furnish a person with information about any warrants issued in their name. Independent third-party websites offer online warrant lookup services. 

Upon finding any warrant using these resources, inquirers may need to confirm their validity through government resources.

Free Warrant Search in Iowa

Interested members of the public may conduct free warrant searches in Iowa by calling or visiting the offices of relevant custodians, such as county sheriffs and local court clerks. Alternatively, they may look up warrant information by searching online databases on websites provided by warrant information custodians. The following custodians facilitate free warrant lookups on their websites:

  1. Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office
  2. Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office
  3. Scott County Sheriff's Office
  4. Mills County Sheriff's Office
  5. Johnson County Sheriff's Office

Private or third-party information service providers also provide free websites where interested parties can look for warrants. 

How to Find Out If Someone Has A Warrant Online

Numerous government offices, such as those of county sheriffs and police departments, provide online databases on their websites where interested persons can find out if someone has a warrant online in Iowa. Many privately owned websites also offer similar services. To search, an inquirer typically needs to enter the first and last names of the person they wish to look up in the appropriate fields on the search tool. Other relevant search parameters include a date of birth and a court case number (for searches on court websites).

Requesters may also find warrants by looking up a person's Iowa criminal record. While some websites (public and privately operated) allow free warrant searches, others require an access fee, and the fees vary with different websites. Fees also depend on the access provided and the depth of the information supplied. While basic access is usually free, premium access costs range from $10 to $50.

How Long Do Warrants Last in Iowa?

It depends. In Iowa, bench warrants and arrest warrants do not expire, whereas a search warrant can expire after a specific period (usually a few days). A judge or magistrate may reissue a search warrant upon expiration or extend its validity period. Arrest warrants only expire after the subject of the warrant has been arrested. An arrest warrant also expires if the person named in the warrant dies. A court may also recall a warrant. A person named in a warrant can hire a defense lawyer to resolve the warrant.

Iowa Warrant Search
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