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What is a Criminal Record?

Criminal records are official documents that detail the criminal history information of persons within the state. This information is compiled from various administrative offices and law enforcement agencies across the state of Iowa. Criminal records typically contain personal and arrest data, details of court proceedings and conviction information of the subject. However, the information available to members of the public will depend primarily on the authority of the requesting party.


What is in a Criminal Record?

Criminal records in the state of Iowa generally comprise the following:

  • The full name and alias of the subject
  • A mugshot, set of fingerprints and detailed description of unique identifiers such as tattoos, piercings, etc.
  • Race and/or ethnicity
  • Date of birth
  • Arrest data and outstanding warrants
  • Conviction history and pending dispositions

What is an Arrest Record?

Iowa arrest records are official documents that provide information about the apprehension and taking-into-custody of persons alleged to be involved in criminal activity. Arrests may be followed by indictments or trials, however, these records may not be considered as proof of the subject’s involvement in a crime unless accompanied by a criminal record and account of the suspect’s charges. Arrest records typically feature details of the alleged crime as well as:

  • The personal data of the subject: their name, birth date, fingerprint, race, etc.
  • Date and place of the arrest
  • The name of the arresting officer
  • The address of the detention center or jail
  • Case status 
  • The name of the issuer of the arrest warrant. 

What is an Arrest Warrant?

An Iowa state arrest warrant is a court-issued order providing law enforcement agencies with legal authority to apprehend criminal suspects. Warrants are generally issued by the judiciary of the local or state jurisdiction where the suspect is located and typically rendered invalid outside the issuing jurisdiction. Once obtained, law enforcement agencies may arrest the person(s) named on the document. In addition to the name of the suspect, an Iowa state warrant also details:

  • Personal information of the subject
  • The alleged criminal offense
  • The place and date that the arrest may ensue
  • The expiry date of the warrant
  • issuer/the date it was issued
  • Terms of bail/bond

In the state of Iowa, arrests may be made without a warrant if the suspect stands charged with a crime punishable by at least one year. Arrests may also be made without warrants if a law enforcement agent is a witness to the criminal offense.

What are Misdemeanors?

Misdemeanors are non-indictable offenses that are considered minor wrongdoings according to U.S. law. In the state of Iowa, they are classified as aggravated, serious, minor and scheduled violations in decreasing order of severity. Misdemeanors attract jail time of at least 30 days, probation sentences, community service and fines of various amounts/lengths depending on the offense. They include:

  • Aggravated misdemeanor: Prostitution, indecent exposure, unlicensed weapon possession
  • Serious misdemeanor: drug possession, domestic abuse, assault resulting in physical or mental illness
  • Minor misdemeanor: trespassing, possession of drug paraphernalia

What are Felonies?

Felonies are the most serious criminal offenses in the state of Iowa and are punishable by up to one-year incarceration and a maximum of a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. In Iowa, criminal offenses are classified in descending order of severity into Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D felonies. Felonies with no designation will be considered a Class D felony by definition and a variety of recurring misdemeanors such as drug possession and OWI will constitute a felony after at least 3 related convictions. Examples include:

  • Class A felonies: first-degree murder, sexual assault resulting in serious injury
  • Class B felonies: felony drug offenses, second-degree murder/manslaughter, burglary
  • Class C felonies: theft of property worth at least $10,000
  • Class D felonies: cultivation of more than 50kg of marijuana

What are Iowa Sex Offender Listings?

Iowa sex offender listings refer to a public-access database of relevant information pertaining to sex offenders in a jurisdiction. Following the enactment of the sex offender registration law, all persons convicted of sex-related crimes must be duly registered, and all information regarding offenders are public record. Thus, local and state law enforcement agencies operate sex offender registries featuring the personal data, location and compliance status of offenders in their jurisdiction.

Similarly, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation operates the Iowa Sex Offender Registry which lists registered and/or convicted sex offenders in the state. In the state of Iowa, persons who commit crimes motivated by sexual acts or sexual abuse run the risk of being included in the registry. In cases where the other participant of a sexual act is unconscious, under the influence of a sleep-inducing drug, has a mental disability, or is underage, the accused is more than likely to be included on the registry.

Iowa Megan’s Law

The Iowa Megan’s law was adopted in 1996 following the molestation and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka. This law requires that relevant information regarding sex offenders must be published in order to protect the public. In light of this, the state of Iowa mandates the registration for persons convicted of any sex offense. Offenders are generally classified by the severity of their offense into tier I, tier II, or Tier III offenses. All information regarding registered offenders is published on city and county compiled sex offender registries as well as the Iowa State Sex Offender Registry and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website. Registration is also compulsory for offenders who are temporarily resident or frequently visit other jurisdictions. In this case, the offender is required to be named under the other jurisdiction’s sex offender registry as well.

What are Serious Traffic Violations?

In the state of Iowa, serious traffic violations refer to infractions relating to the operation of a vehicle or the use of a public road. These are typically more severe than minor traffic violations and often result in serious bodily injury or death. Serious traffic violations include drunk driving, driving with a suspended license and hit and run. The punishment for these violations may include thousands of dollars in fines, loss of driving privileges and a variety of other sentences depending on the resulting damage.

As per Iowa state laws, traffic violations are indicated on the driving record of residents by the Iowa Office of Driver Services (ODS). This office is tasked with issuing driving suspensions especially when there is a habitual repeat of traffic-related offenses.

What is a Conviction Record?

Iowa state conviction records are official documents that feature the criminal history of an individual and the jail term(s) served as a consequence. This document details the alleged offense, the convict’s plea at the time of the court proceedings and the judgment delivered. The information contained in the record is also included on a criminal record along with arrest information and details of disposition. However, conviction records only include information regarding cases where the subject was found to be guilty of the crime.

Conviction records also include the personal data of the accused, details of the indictment and the final judgment of the court as well as any fines, sentences, community service, and mandatory counseling sentences that resulted. The record also includes details of dishonorable discharges, probation, and parole. However, judgments that are reversed or pardoned may be excluded from the record.

What are Jail and Inmate Records?

Iowa Jail and inmate records are official documents pertaining to a person’s current and former incarceration status. It may also refer to the facility and prisoner-related data generated and maintained by various correctional institutions throughout the state. This data includes:

  • Details of the facility location, housing capacity, etc.
  • Full name and aliases of inmates
  •  Birthdate, nationality, gender and other personal data inmates
  • Criminal indictments of incarcerated persons
  • Mugshots, fingerprints and biological information of the prisoners.

An inmate is a person who has been deprived of his/her civil liberties while on trial or one who is serving a sentence following their conviction. The Iowa Department of Correction maintains and disseminates inmate and jail-related information to interested members of the public through their online database. However, information unavailable on the Iowa DPS website may be obtained by querying the facility where the inmate is housed.

How to Find Iowa Parole Information

Iowa Parole records are official documents which provide information regarding the provisional release of a prisoner who agrees to certain parole conditions before completion of the maximum sentence period. As per code § 910.5 of the Iowa state law, offenders who are placed on parole are required to pay restitution as a condition of parole. The restitution plan should be made considering the offender’s income, physical and mental health, education, employment, and family circumstances. Failure of the offender to comply with the restitution plan of payment, including a community service requirement, will constitute a violation of a condition of parole. After the expiration of the offender’s sentence, the failure of an offender to comply with the plan of restitution ordered by the court will constitute contempt of court.

Other information pertaining to Iowa parole conditions and processes may be found on the Iowa Board of Parole website. All annual reports, board agenda, meeting minutes and administrative units are published on the site and available for public viewing. In addition, the site features an offender search tool that may be used to obtain information regarding recent parole-related updates of an inmate. Offenders may be searched by their name or designated offender number.

What are Probation Records?

Probation records in the state of Iowa are official documents that indicate that a prisoner of the state may serve their sentence outside detention but under supervision. Probation sentences are often issued as an alternative to prison and are offered on the condition that the inmate strictly adheres to the probation conditions imposed by the judge and/or probation officer. The span of the probation, as well as any other condition, is issued in proportion to the crime by the Iowa Board of Parole. While conditions may vary depending on the offender and their criminal charges, most inmates in probation will be required to report to a probation officer frequently as well as remain in a specified vicinity, pay any applicable fines and attend mandatory counseling (if applicable) 

Probation records may be available to interested members of the public unless restricted or rendered confidential by a court order. In either case, these records may be accessed by querying the Parole board. However, the requestor may be required to provide a subpoena to view closed records.

What are Iowa Juvenile Criminal Records?

Iowa juvenile criminal records are a compilation of official reports and records pertaining to the criminal activity of underaged persons. Contrary to common practice, these were public records in the state of Iowa until 2016 when juvenile delinquency cases became confidential. Accused juveniles found guilty of their charges are termed adjudicated rather than convicted. However, these records may not be accessed by members of the public unless the public’s interest is at stake, the case is still open or the juvenile is a recurrent offender.

Adjudicated delinquents may request that these records be sealed by petitioning the state DPS or court. If approved, the petition will order the record sealed and entirely inaccessible to the public. However, unless expunged, juvenile criminal records will likely appear in public background checks. Nonetheless, persons found to be adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime.

Iowa History and Accuracy of Criminal Records

Until the recent technological advancements in record generation and management, record keeping in the state of Iowa was largely manual. In recent years, with the State Archives of Iowa adopting digitized methods of record organization and storage, criminal records, as well as a variety of crime-related data and reports, are better preserved in a hassle-free system. The state archives go back into the earlier years of record compilation and organization. Thankfully, access to these records is not hindered by the former archaic record management and retrieval purposes and accuracy is better assured following the automated storage processes adopted.

How to Find Criminal Records in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Safety serves as the central repository for criminal records in the state. Through its Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa DPS makes records available to the public in the form of a Criminal Background Report. Since most criminal record sources often have varying protocols, organization, digitization and retrieval requirements, the process of requesting these records generally varies from office to office. Law enforcement agencies within the state operate unique and mostly independent methods of generating and maintaining crime-related records or reports. Criminal records may also be obtained through local depositories or from the state DCI.

Iowa State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (319) 251-2225

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Criminal Record

Criminal Record