Expungement of Criminal Records in Iowa


Area of Law: 

criminal records

A criminal record can be a bar to certain types of employment, licensing, holding public office, and even the right to vote. Most states allow for a process called expungement that will remove certain arrests or criminal convictions from the offender’s record.

Depending upon the laws of the state in which you live and the nature of the crime, you may be able to get an arrest or conviction sealed or erased from your legal record. After the expungement process is complete, you will not need to disclose the conviction on a job or school application, and in most instances no record of the arrest or conviction will show up during a public records inspection or background check commonly done by potential employers, landlords, and educational institutions.

According to Iowa law, the following individuals may be eligible for expungement: 

  • A person who was acquitted or whose criminal charges were dismissed

  • Persons acquitted or dismissed by reason of insanity

  • A juvenile who has reached twenty-one years of age, unless the juvenile was convicted of or pled guilty to a serious or aggravated misdemeanor or felony between age eighteen and age twenty-one

  • A person who has had no other criminal convictions, other than simple misdemeanor violations, during the two-year period following a conviction for public intoxication 

Whether or not a criminal record is expunged in Iowa largely depends on the nature of the crime. The process involves petitioning the appropriate court by filling out expungement forms. The court then evaluates the petition to determine if the public may be harmed by granting the expungement. If the court decides that destroying the criminal record will pose no harm, the expungement is granted. In some cases, the judge may decide to seal the record instead of expunging it, meaning that the record is not destroyed, but rather sealed from public view. 

When criminal records are expunged in Iowa, they do not simply disappear. The records cannot be accessed for general law enforcement or civil use. Fingerprint cards received that are used to establish a criminal history data record are retained in the automated fingerprint identification system when the criminal history data record is expunged. In the case of a juvenile, criminal history data and source documents, other than fingerprint records, are not retained. Criminal history data may be collected for management or research purposes.

 For more information on expungement in the state of Iowa, go to the USLegal website.


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