Expungement is the legal process of obliterating, destroying, or eliminating information in files or records from computers and folder that containing criminal charges. Even though records may be destroyed they have not disappeared. When records have been expunged in the state of Iowa they have simply become inaccessible to the general public and the general law enforcement. Fingerprint cards remain in the automated system for establishment of a criminal history data record even when a record has been expunged. However in a juvenile expungement case these fingerprints, along with criminal history data and source documents, are fully eliminated. Nevertheless criminal history data may be retained for research or management purposes in Iowa Statutes.
Any arrest, disposition data, custody data, or adjudication data can be expunged. The adjudication date and custody date for juveniles who have reach the age of twenty-one may also be expunged if the individual has not plead guilty or been convicted of an aggravated or serious misdemeanor or felony between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. Despite expungement all automated fingerprints will remain in the identification system.
Public intoxication records may be expunged under certain circumstances and if specific conditions are met.
Only certain crimes can be expunged in Iowa and include crime where an individual was acquitted or where charges were dismissed. Cases of dismissal due to reason of insanity are not eligible for expungement. This law also excludes records of adjudications of mental incompetence to stand trial where there was mental or physical injury or an attempt to physically or mentally injure.
Most juvenile records may be expunged unless aggravated felonies or misdemeanors have been committed between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. Cases of discharge from probation where a person whose judgment was deferred under section 907.3 are also eligible for record expungement.
Those who have been arrested and convicted for public intoxication may apply for expungement after two years and no further criminal convictions. Simple misdemeanor violations stated in chapter 321 are excusable during this two-year time period.
Record Expungement and Record Deferment
In Iowa when a person is eligible for expungement it is not always necessary to file a petition. When an individual meets the specific criteria in relation to public intoxication, expungement is made as a matter of the law as stated by Iowa Statutes 123.46.
Iowa has no legal mechanism for expunging a previous conviction unless there is an application for a pardon and is received by the Governor of Iowa. In the case of operating while intoxicated an incident can be kept from criminal record by a deferred judgment granted by a judge. In the case of a deferred judgment, an individual will then be placed on probation while he or she is then discharged.
An individual is only eligible for deferment twice in his or her lifetime. And even though a conviction may be deferred, driving privileges may not be reinstated in every case. A deferred judgment can also be used as a prior conviction in future convictions that will enhance new sentences. See also:
Iowa Misdemeanor External link (opens in new window)
Iowa Felony External link (opens in new window)
Iowa Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)