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Iowa Criminal Records

Iowa Criminal Records refer to a collection of documents that contain information about individuals convicted of a crime in the state. These records are essential for public safety because they help members of the public make informed decisions about who they interact with and trust.

Criminal records in Iowa typically contain the person's name, date of birth, mugshot, physical description, arrest records, charges, court records, convictions, sentencing, and any other relevant information. Various law enforcement agencies and administrative offices across Iowa compile this information.

They are a valuable tool for law enforcement agencies, employers, landlords, and other members of the public who need to verify an individual's criminal background.

For example, a landlord may want to check the criminal records of a potential tenant to ensure that they are trustworthy and will not pose a danger to other tenants. Similarly, an employer may want to verify the criminal history of a job candidate to ensure that they will not pose a risk to the workplace or coworkers.

State criminal records are publicly accessible under the Iowa Open Records Law. This law is based on the principle that the government's activities should be transparent, and citizens should have access to information about these actions.

The Iowa Open Records Law mandates that all public records must be available to members of the public upon request. It also requires that records be maintained in an organized and accessible manner, ensuring that members of the public can easily access the documents they need without any undue delays or obstacles.

What Are the Types of Crimes in Iowa?

In Iowa, the types of crimes that individuals can be charged with vary depending on the severity and nature of the offense. From minor misdemeanors to serious felonies, the Iowa Criminal Records contain crucial information about the type of conviction.

The state categorizes criminal charges into different types, each with unique legal consequences. Below are the various categories of crimes in Iowa and an overview of their severity level and the potential punishments for individuals found guilty of the offense:


In Iowa, committing a felony can result in imprisonment for two years or more in state prison. The state categorizes felonies into Classes A, B, C, and D.

Class A Felonies

Individuals found guilty of Class A felonies in Iowa, such as first-degree murder or sexual abuse resulting in serious injury, may receive life imprisonment with no chance of parole unless the governor commutes the sentence.

Class B Felonies

Certain Class B felonies in Iowa have a maximum prison penalty of 25 years, while persistent offenders get 15 years.

However, some crimes under this category have obligatory minimums of 70%, such as first-degree robbery, which requires 17.5 years or 70% of the 25-year sentence.

In addition to first-degree robbery, below are other Class B felonies in Iowa subject to the 70% mandatory minimums:

  • Attempted murder
  • Second-degree sexual abuse
  • Intoxicated car homicide
  • Second-degree kidnapping
  • First-degree arson

Class C Felonies

A person who is not a habitual offender and found guilty of an Iowa Class C felony may receive a maximum sentence of a 10-year prison term. Additionally, the individual must pay a fine ranging from $1,370 to $13,660.

Some Iowa Class C felonies, like second-degree robbery, demand 70% of the minimum sentence. Other crimes under this category include voluntary manslaughter and reckless firearm use resulting in serious injuries.

Class D Felonies

Individuals convicted of an Iowa Class D felony who are not habitual offenders are subject to a maximum prison term of five years. Besides the sentence, they must pay a fine between $1,025 and $10,245. Examples of Class D felonies in the state include second-degree criminal mischief, forgery, and extortion.


Iowa classifies misdemeanors into three categories: aggravated, serious, and simple. Typically, misdemeanors carry less severe penalties compared to felonies. A conviction for a misdemeanor offense in Iowa can result in a maximum of one year of confinement in a county or local jail and a fine.

Aggravated Misdemeanors

In Iowa, aggravated misdemeanors are the most severe Class of misdemeanors, carrying a maximum penalty of up to two years of jail term and a fine ranging from $850 to $8,540.

Examples of Iowa aggravated misdemeanors include the following:

  • Third-degree theft
  • Assault hate crimes
  • Second-offense OWI (operating while intoxicated)
  • Second-offense drug possession
  • Indecent exposure
  • Prostitution
  • Carrying a gun without a permit
  • Stalking

Serious Misdemeanors

Iowa's serious misdemeanor convictions carry a one-year jail term. Aside from the jail sentence, the perpetrator is subject to a fine of $430 to $2,560. Examples of such offenses are as follows:

  • Carrying a gun or weapon while intoxicated
  • First-offense OWI
  • First-offense drug possession
  • Second-offense domestic abuse assault
  • Second-degree harassment
  • Assault with bodily harm
  • Animal neglect

Simple Misdemeanors

If an individual committed any of the following simple misdemeanors in Iowa, they are subject to a 30-day jail term and a fine between $105 and $850:

  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Hazing
  • First-offense domestic abuse assault
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespassing

How Does Probation Work in Iowa?

Under the Iowa Code 907.1(5), the term "probation" refers to the process by which a defendant, who has been or may be found guilty of a public offense, is released by the court on the condition of being supervised by the Iowa department of correctional services of the judicial district or a resident of the state.

In Iowa, probation is an option available for certain offenses, and it comes with strict rules and regulations that offenders must follow to remain in compliance with their probation terms.

Being sentenced to probation in Iowa means the offender must regularly report to a probation officer, usually monthly. In addition, Iowa courts may impose specific conditions on an offender's probation based on the nature of their offense.

For instance, the court may order an offender convicted of drug-related crimes to attend drug treatment or testing programs. Similarly, an offender convicted of domestic violence may be compelled to participate in counseling or maintain a safe distance from their victim.

One of the most essential rules of probation in Iowa is that the offender must not commit any new crimes while on probation. The court can revoke the offender's probation and send them to prison to serve their original sentence if they commit another offense or violate any probation conditions.

The length of probation in Iowa varies depending on the offense's nature and the judge's discretion.

According to Iowa Code 907.7, the court may establish a probation period that does not surpass five years for felonies. For misdemeanors, the probation period must not exceed two years. Additionally, the court may extend the probation period to one year, including one extra year beyond the maximum duration established in section 908.11.

How Does Parole Work in Iowa?

In Iowa, parole plays a critical role in the criminal justice system, allowing offenders to reintegrate into society and start afresh. The Iowa Board of Parole determines the point at which an offender becomes eligible for parole by serving a particular portion of their sentence.

Generally, as per Iowa Code 902.12, if someone has been in jail for at least 70% of their sentence for a serious crime, the Board can allow them to leave early on parole.

The severe crimes that apply to this rule are vehicular homicide, attempted murder, second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping, second-degree sexual abuse, and first or second-degree robbery.

Once an offender is eligible, they must go through a parole hearing, during which the Board evaluates their readiness to be released.

If the Board approves an offender's parole, they will be watched by a district department, as stated in Iowa Code 905.14. They must pay an enrollment fee to the district department to cover the supervision costs. Besides the enrollment fee, the district department may also ask for an extra fee depending on the offense circumstances of the individual.

Additionally, Iowa Code 906.11 asserts the director of the judicial district department of correctional services will give them a parole officer. The parolee and their parole officer will get a written list of rules, including any payment plans for damages and the laws they have to follow.

The parole officer will explain the rules to the parolee, help them, and offer advice during their parole time. Generally, the conditions of their release include curfew times, drug testing, and mandatory counseling or treatment programs.

If the parolee breaks any of their probation conditions, they could be sent back to prison to finish the rest of their term.

How Does Expungement Work in Iowa?

Expungement in Iowa is a legal process that allows individuals to erase or seal their criminal records, providing a path for a fresh start. This process is essential as it helps people with past criminal records to move forward and build a better life.

With a criminal record, individuals face many challenges in securing employment, housing, and education. Potential employers and landlords often conduct background checks, and a criminal record can be a significant barrier to obtaining these opportunities.

By expunging their records, individuals can start a new one and have a fair chance at these opportunities. Additionally, expungement can help restore an individual's civil rights, such as voting, serving on a jury, and owning firearms.

However, not all Iowa Criminal Records are eligible for the state expungement. An individual can only apply for an expungement order in the following situation:

Dismissal or Acquittal

If a person's case resulted in dismissal or acquittal, the Iowa Code 901C.2 allows the expungement of the record.

However, certain conditions must be met, like paying all related fees, the defendant being unfit for trial, and a waiting period of about six months or 180 days. Furthermore, the charge must be a public crime, excluding nonindictable or municipal traffic offenses.

For the expungement application to succeed, the court must dismiss or acquit all counts in the charge, and if a person has multiple counts and only one is subject to dismissal, the court cannot expunge the case.

Deferred Judgements

The Iowa Code 907.9 allows for deferred judgment in certain circumstances when someone pleads guilty to an offense. Once the person finishes probation and pays all related costs, the court may remove the case records.

Underage Alcohol Possession, Public Intoxication, and Prostitution Cases

If the individual's conviction is listed in the Iowa Codes 123.47(8), 123.46(6), and 725.1, they can apply for expungement. However, they cannot get any additional criminal convictions for two years, except for minor traffic violations. Unlike other types of expungement, this doesn't require individuals to pay fines or fees.

Misdemeanor Expungement

Iowa Code 901C.3 includes a way for people to remove one misdemeanor conviction from their record. A person must have no current criminal charges, pay all costs, and have been convicted at least eight years before to qualify for a misdemeanor expungement. Those with two previous deferred judgments are not eligible for this expungement type.

Though a person can only apply for one expungement in their lifetime using this specific process, this restriction does not apply to other expungement types.

For example, suppose someone has already had two records expunged for dismissed cases or prostitution. In that case, they can still use this type of expungement to clear another record, such as a first-offense OWI  conviction or other misdemeanors.

If a person meets the expungement eligibility criteria in Iowa, they can apply to the court, and if approved, the court may issue an order to expunge the records.

Expungement Process in Iowa

To start the expungement process, a person must get their criminal record from the agency responsible for it. Then, they must fill out an appropriate form. Each expungement type in Iowa has a specific form.

For example, someone eligible under Iowa Code 901C.3 must accomplish the Application to Expunge Misdemeanor Court Records form. Those who wish to apply under Iowa Code 901C.2 must complete the Application to Expunge Court Record form. 

After completing the required form, submit it to the court that issued the conviction. Use the Court Directory on the Iowa Judicial Branch website to identify the proper court.

Once submitted, the court will examine the petition and decide whether to expunge it. In most cases, the court will hold a hearing as part of the process.

When a court expunges a record, it becomes inaccessible to the general public. However, some prosecutors, courts, and law enforcement agencies can still access them.

If a person's charge doesn't meet the requirements for expungement, they can ask the governor for a pardon. Iowa rarely grants pardons except when court proceedings involve unfairness or injustice.

To apply for a pardon, one must go to the Governor's Office website and then navigate the site to obtain the specific process for requesting a pardon.

Getting a pardon can increase a person's chances of finding a job or a place to live. However, a pardon does not entirely erase the criminal record. Nonetheless, if the governor approves the pardon, that will indicate on the online record.

How To Obtain a Criminal Record in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) is the state's primary repository for criminal records. Through its Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the DPS provides the public with access to Iowa Criminal Records in the form of a criminal history record check report.

To obtain a copy of an Iowa Criminal Record, an individual must submit a request to the DPS. One can submit requests for criminal history records through mail, fax, or email by completing a request form and the corresponding billing form. One can obtain the forms through the DCI web page or with this link.

Generally, the request must include the full name, date of birth, and any other identifying information about the offender. Additionally, the requester must provide contact information, the desired method of receiving the results, and a reason for obtaining the record, such as for employment, immigration, or personal reasons.

Aside from mail, fax, or email, one can also request criminal history record checks from the DCI through an online portal.

To request a record check through the portal, complete both the request form and the billing form. After completing both forms and payment, click submit. If submitting multiple record checks, complete separate forms for each with payment.

Criminal background report requests from the DCI take 1-3 days to process, depending on the volume of submissions and staffing levels. But the DCI can provide immediate results for requests submitted in person for those who are the subject of the request.

What Are the Criminal Background Check Laws in Iowa?

When conducting criminal background checks in Iowa, there are specific laws that employers need to be aware of. These laws protect the rights of job applicants and ensure that employers are not discriminating against potential employees based on their criminal history.

Firstly, it is essential to note that Iowa is an "at-will" employment state. It means employers can terminate an employee at any time and for any reason, as long as it is not discriminatory. However, this does not mean employers can conduct background checks without regard for the law.

Before conducting a criminal background check on a job applicant in Iowa, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers to obtain their written consent. The consent form needs to clearly state that the employer will conduct a background check and provide information on the particular types of criminal history that they will search for.

Additionally, employers must provide the applicant a copy of the report if they are denied employment based on the background check results.

Another law that governs criminal background check laws in Iowa is the expungement law. Under this law, employers must not consider certain Iowa Criminal Records when hiring. It includes arrests that did not result in convictions and expunged convictions.

Furthermore, Waterloo, a city in Iowa, has implemented a "Ban-the-Box" law prohibiting employers from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history on job applications, during interviews, or before extending a conditional job offer. It provides a fair chance for those with a criminal record to obtain gainful employment without facing discrimination from employers.

Employers should understand and follow these criminal background check laws in Iowa. Failure to do so can result in legal repercussions and damage their reputation.


Counties in Iowa

Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Iowa

Polk County Sheriff's Office5995 NE 14th Street, Des Moines, IA
Linn County Sheriff's Office310 2nd Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids, IA
Scott County Sheriff's Office400 W. 4th St., Davenport, IA
Johnson County Sheriff's Office511 S Capitol Street, Iowa City, IA
Woodbury County Sheriff's Office407 7th Street, Sioux City, IA
Dubuque County Sheriff's Office770 Iowa Street, Dubuque, IA
Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office1400 Big Lake Road, Council Bluffs, IA
Story County Sheriff's Office1315 South B Ave., Nevada, IA
Dallas County Sheriff's Office28985 Thin Blue Line Lane, Adel, IA
Clinton County Sheriff's Office241 Seventh Avenue North, Clinton, IA