How to Expunge my Public Records in Iowa

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In Iowa, it is technically impossible to delete a public record. A record can only be sealed from general public access but may still be available to authorized persons. Getting a record expunged or sealed is not an easy process in Iowa and persons seeking to do so must meet certain requirements to qualify.

The Iowa Code 901C governs the process of expungement in Iowa and normal citizens of the state must fulfill all the obligations of the law before they can apply to the court for an expungement of their records. Each citizen of the state is entitled to apply for an expungement of their record once in their lifetime.  Also, certain offenses will remain on a person's record forever especially if the law does not provide relief on expunging such records. For example, if a person is charged with a crime and they are found guilty, the law states that such offenses cannot be expunged unless it falls under special circumstances and a limited amount of time has passed since the offense was committed. There are several reasons why it is beneficial for a person to remove their records from public access. Some of these reasons are:

  • To obtain employment
  • To find housing
  • To apply for college and student loans
  • To apply for a loan or financial aid
  • To be able to legally deny or not acknowledge that they were arrested for an incident that has been sealed or expunged
  • For privacy concerns

What are Public Records in Iowa?

According to the Iowa Code Chapter 22 (Open record Act), public records are documents, papers, map, books, tapes, photograph, sound recording, or other materials, regardless of their physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, maintained by any public agency in the state. The law mandates public agencies in the state to make available public records to the members of the public on request. Making public records available to the public ensures transparency in a public agency’s business or activities. In Iowa, a person seeking to inspect a public record does not have to state a specific reason or purpose in making the request. Under Iowa Open Records Act, an agency has the right to charge fees for a public records request. It is important to note that not all records are open to the public, some records are exempted from public access and only authorized persons can request them. Exempted records include :

  • Medical records
  • Trade Secret
  • Military confidential records.
  • Personal information in records regarding a student or a prospective student maintained by a school corporation
  • Archaeological and historical ecologically sensitive material locations and information
  • Records that constitute the work of an Attorney are related to litigation made by or against a public body
  • Information maintained by mediators employed to solve the disputes with government agencies

Does Iowa Allow Expungement?

Yes, Iowa allows expungement under certain circumstances. In Iowa, a defendant can file an application to the court requesting expungement of their record after fulfilling certain requirements. Expungement usually involves removing a record from public access, including Non-FCRA Compliant background check companies. Under the Iowa Code § 907.1, expunged records are kept in a secure area or database which is exempted from public access. Once a record has been expunged, the defendant may respond to any inquiry about the records as if the conviction did not occur. Typically, expunged records are also removed from the criminal history records files maintained by the Iowa State Department of Public Safety.

How Do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Iowa?

In Iowa, if a person was arrested and the charges were dropped or they were found not guilty of the crime, such a person may qualify for expungement of the record. However, the options are very limited for conviction records. The state of Iowa only allows for the expungement of certain conviction records. Under the Iowa Code Section 9011C.3, a person with a single misdemeanor record may apply to the District Court in the county where the matter took place to have the record expunged. However, such persons must be able to prove the following:

  • That at least eight (8) years have passed since the misdemeanor conviction
  • They have no pending criminal charges
  • They have not been previously convicted of any other crime or granted more than the one deferred judgment.
  • They have paid all mandated court costs, restitution and fulfilled any probation.

Some examples of misdemeanor convictions that qualify for expungements include theft in the fifth degree, simple assault, harassment, minor public Intoxication. Convictions like domestic abuse, weapon offense, violent offenses, driving offenses under Iowa Code Section 321J  cannot be expunged.  

Iowa also allows expungement for certain alcohol-related offenses. For example, the offense of possession of alcohol under legal age can be expunged under the Iowa Code, Section 123.46 if at least two years have passed since the individual was convicted and they have not had another criminal conviction within the two years after the date of conviction.

Non- Conviction records

According to the Iowa Code Section 9011C.2, individuals may be able to expunge non-conviction records if they can prove the following:

  • The charges were dismissed or they were found not guilty
  • That at least 180 days have passed since the charges were dismissed.
  • They obtained deferred judgment at the time of the conviction and successfully completed probation.
  • All court costs and fees associated with the case has been paid
  • If the case was not dismissed because the defendant was found not guilty because of insanity
  • If the applicant was not found incompetent to stand trial

If an applicant fulfills all the eligibility requirements, the applicant may petition the court by filing an Application to Expunge Court Record form with the Clerk of the District Court that handled the criminal case. Applicants must make copies of the application forms and submit them to the office of the county attorney that handled the case. After applying, the court will review the request and either grant or deny the application.

Will My Expungement Record Show on a Background Check in Iowa?

In Iowa, when a record is expunged or sealed, the record is kept in a secure database that is not available for public access. This means access to them can only be obtained with a court order. Therefore, if a record is expunged, a background check will not show the contents of the record. However, it will show that the record is unavailable because it has been expunged. Note that individuals may legally deny or fail to acknowledge that they were arrested for an incident that has been sealed or expunged.

How to Seal a Record in Iowa

In the State of Iowa, individuals seeking to seal their records need to petition the court where the matter was handled. According to the Iowa Code 232.150, for juvenile records, the court is mandated to schedule a sealing hearing if two years have passed since the last official action in a case and if the subject is now 18 years of age. The court will seal the records only if there has been no subsequent felony or aggravated misdemeanor conviction on the subject’s record and the subject was not adjudicated for a DUI. The court will seal a record if it is in the best interests of the person and the public. In Iowa, sealed records are deemed nonexistent as a matter of law. Courts and public agencies must respond to requests for sealed records, stating that such records do not exist.

Who can see my Sealed Record in Iowa?

In Iowa, sealed records can only be accessed by law enforcement agencies and state courts. Any other individual seeking to have access to sealed records must apply to the court to have the records unsealed. Note that only authorized persons can make such requests; an example is an attorney authorized by a party on the record.

How to Delete Bankruptcy Record in Iowa

In Iowa, when an individual files for bankruptcy, the case will usually appear on the person's credit report. In Iowa, removing a bankruptcy from a credit report is a difficult process. Under provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a bankruptcy filing will remain on a credit report for a maximum of 10 years.

The state of Iowa Bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 U.S.C. § 605 governs credit-reporting agencies in the state. Under the act, credit reporting agencies may not report a bankruptcy case on a person's credit report if ten years have passed since the date the bankruptcy case was filed. However, individuals may be able to get the bankruptcy report removed earlier than 10 years if the bankruptcy was filed under Chapter 13. Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases may be removed from credit reports after 7 years because partial repayment of the debts is required.

Requesters might also be able to remove a bankruptcy case from a credit report earlier than 10 years if the report is invalid, which may sometimes be an error on the part of the credit reporting agency. This could be a ground for the removal of the case if the agency can confirm the inaccuracies. An individual may challenge a bankruptcy case on a credit report by writing a credit dispute letter to all the major credit bureaus in the state. The letter must identify the errors on the credit report and ask that the bankruptcy record be removed completely due to the damages the wrong report may cause. Individuals may also request that the court issue a written statement on the validity of the bankruptcy case on the credit report.

Requesters looking to address credit problems may contact the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Education Division, Washington, D.C. 20580 or call (202) 326-2222. They can also contact the credit bureaus directly reporting the information, for example, Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in Iowa?

Consumer protection laws in Iowa protect consumers in the state from fraud, deception, and unfair business practices. The Attorney General Consumer Protection Division enforces laws that protect consumers from misleading advertisements and deceptive sale practices. The division also enforces laws that make sure that consumers have all the information they need before they buy anything. For example, Iowa Code 714.16 gives consumers the private right of action if they were defrauded or suffer any monetary loss due to deception practices. An action brought under this act must be filed within two years of the incident to have a cause of action. If the individual brings an application after two years have passed, they must be able to prove that they could not have discovered the violation within the stipulated two years.

How to Delete Lien Records in Iowa

In Iowa, the easiest way to delete a record is by paying off the debt or by obtaining a court order to remove the lien. A lien obtained on a property will remain valid for 10 years. A lien stands more chance to be removed from a property if the money owed is paid up. After paying the debt, the property owner can make a written demand to the lienholder to remove the lien from the Mechanic‘s Notice and Lien Registry. If after 30 days the lienholder does notify the registry of the paid debt, the property owner can file with the registry, a copy of the written demand and proof of service to show that the debt has been paid. Another way to get a lien removed from a property is to challenge the lien in a court of law if a property owner believes that the lien is unwarranted or untrue.

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