In 2016, Iowa enacted new laws permitting the expungement of certain criminal records. An expungement removes a criminal offense from your record for most purposes—making it easier to get a job, housing or an education. Before you file for an expungement, it is important to understand the requirements and limitations of Iowa’s expungement system.

Sealing and Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records

While most juvenile arrest records are confidential in Iowa, many juvenile convictions or findings of delinquency are available to the public. However, a court may seal juvenile convictions and other records. A sealed record is not publicly available without a court order, but may still be available to law enforcement and other agencies.

In order to seal your juvenile record, you must meet certain requirements. These requirements include:

  • You are 18 years old, or two years have passed since your criminal case ended,
  • You do not have any additional or pending criminal charges, and
  • You were not given youthful offender status, transferred back to the court at age 18, and sentenced.

You must make your request in writing and a hearing may be required. If you need help with the juvenile record sealing process, consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer.

Additionally, most juvenile records are automatically expunged once you reach 21 years old. However, if you were convicted or pled guilty to a serious or aggravated crime while 18 to 21 years old, you must follow the adult expungement process.

Expungement of Adult Criminal Records

Recent changes to Iowa’s laws now permit the expungement of certain arrest records and convictions. You may expunge your adult criminal record after 180 days if you were:

  • Acquitted,
  • The charges were dismissed, or
  • Judgment was deferred or withheld (and you completed the terms of the deferral)

The 180-day waiting period may be waived if you have good cause. You must also pay any related court costs and financial obligations related to the charges. You cannot expunge your criminal record if you were found not guilty due to insanity or incompetent to stand trial.

Additionally, Iowa law permits the expungement of certain alcohol-related convictions. If you were convicted of public intoxication, consumption, or underage consumption, you may be entitled to an expungement if you have not had any additional convictions in the past two years.

To request expungement, you must file a written petition or an Application to Expunge Court Record with the court that handled your criminal case. Once your petition is filed, the court will review your request and either grant or deny your expungement. Depending on your case, a hearing may be necessary.

Iowa law also allows for the restoration of citizenship rights (such as voting) under certain circumstances. Unlike an expungement, a restoration of your citizenship rights does not remove your criminal history. To regain your right to vote, you must file a:

Different processes apply if you want to receive a pardon or firearm rights. If you need help determining your eligibility, consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer.

Associated Fees and Paperwork

Depending on your case, you may have to pay filing fees. If you hire an expungement or criminal defense lawyer, you may also be charged for attorney fees and other costs.

Implications of a Successful Expungement

If the court grants your petition, you may lawfully state that the expunged criminal record does not exist. When most employers search your Iowa criminal record, the charges will not be present. However, an expungement in Iowa does not result in the destruction of your court records. Expunged records will still be available to law enforcement agencies.

Consulting an Attorney

In order to request an expungement, you must draft a written legal document and may require a hearing. A criminal lawyer or expungement lawyer can help guide you through the expungement process. Additionally, a lawyer may be able to reinstate your voting or firearm rights.