Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Iowa

The options for expunging or sealing a criminal record in Iowa are limited. Many non-conviction records can be expunged, but if you were convicted of a crime, your record may qualify for expungement only if:

  • the conviction was for an eligible alcohol-related offense, or
  • you obtained deferred judgment at the time of your conviction and successfully completed probation.

In addition, if your Iowa criminal record contains errors, you may request that it be corrected. Each of these situations is discussed below.

Non-Conviction Records

If you were arrested and charged with a crime, your record may be eligible for expungement if all charges against you were dropped or you were found not guilty of the offense, and:

  • you have paid all court costs and fees associated with your case, and
  • you wait at least 180 days from the date of your acquittal or the dismissal of your case to apply.

Your record is not eligible for expungement if your case was dismissed because you were found not guilty by reason of insanity or if you were found incompetent to stand trial.

(Iowa Code § 901C.2 (2018).)

Convictions for Alcohol-Related Offenses

If you were convicted of certain alcohol-related offenses—for example, public drunkenness—you may petition to have the related record expunged after two years have passed. Your criminal record must have been clean during the two year period, except for minor traffic violations. This rule does not apply to driving under the influence. (Iowa Code §§ 123.46, 123.47 (2018).)

Deferred Judgment

The only other option for expunging your criminal record in Iowa is to obtain what is called “deferred judgment” at the time of your conviction. For most misdemeanor crimes and some felonies, the court can defer judgment and place a defendant on probation rather than imposing a sentence. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the defendant is discharged and no conviction is entered. The defendant may then have the related record expunged—that is, made inaccessible to the general public. (Iowa Code §§ 907.3, 907.9 (2018).)

Correcting Your Criminal Record

If your Iowa criminal record contains errors, you can request to have it corrected by contacting the Division of Criminal Investigation. To learn more, read the DCI’s online FAQ.

Getting Legal Help

If you have further questions about cleaning up your criminal record in Iowa, you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can assess your personal circumstances and guide you each step of the way.

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