Iowa Criminal & Arrest Record Search: Free (All IA Counties)

Free Iowa Arrest Records & Criminal Records Search
Access Iowa Records: background checks, warrants, probation and parole, court records, and all criminal and arrest records.

Iowa criminal and arrest record searches are free and easy to perform; simply look up anyone’s name right now to check if they were arrested or have a criminal history in any IA county.

The Hawkeye state, or Iowa, is home to nearly 4 million people, and due to the sheer number of residents and countless government record keepers, looking into someone’s past can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.

Luckily, this resource simplifies the process by providing free guides that help individuals navigate public records so they can look up a new friend or partner if there’s any concern about the person’s character. Professionals can also use the information to make hiring decisions, least an apartment, grant licenses and more.

By following the guidance in this brief resource, readers will learn how to:

  • Check for recent arrests in Iowa, the reason for the arrest, view mugshots, and bail someone out.
  •  See someone’s criminal history through Iowa court records.
  • Obtain copies of Iowa criminal records and seal or expunge those records.
  • Determine if yourself or someone else has a warrant in Iowa.
  • Find out if someone is in a federal or Iowa state prison.
  • Perform an Iowa background check depending on the screening reason.
  • Review Iowa state public record laws to avoid antidiscrimination practices during hiring and employment.

Which Criminal & Arrest Records Are Public Information in Iowa? Which Records Are Not Accessible to All?

Iowa is a sunshine state, which means it has passed laws that make most records generated by governmental agencies operating within the state public records. Public records in Iowa are defined under Chapter 22 of the State Code, as well as limitations on their disclosure.

This means Iowa criminal records are considered public domain and can be requested by anyone. Arrest records in Iowa fall under this guidance as well; however, there are some exceptions that impact certain criminal or arrest records in the state.

These exceptions are:

  • Communication between a crime victim and their counselor,
  • Investigative reports when the matter is still open and the investigation is active unless disclosure will help safeguard the general public or the assistance of the public is needed to catch a dangerous suspect,
  • Mental health crisis response report by law enforcement,
  • Law enforcement records that can disclose addresses of law enforcement officers, or files that identify confidential informants or witnesses to crimes, or
  • Juvenile criminal records.1

Ultimately, all adult arrests, charges and convictions are considered public record and can be accessed by anyone unless the record has been sealed or expunged (which will be discussed later in this guide).

Although these records are considered public records, they are subject to federal laws that outline how public records can be used when making hiring, licensing or leasing decisions. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) limits the use of credit history and criminal non-conviction history to a seven year look back period (10 years for certain bankruptcies) in most situations.

This applies to commercial agencies that conduct background checks for businesses as well as people finder services and is also applicable to and arrest records which are also considered public records but do not show as much detail as a full criminal history report.2

Use of criminal history is also subject to federal anti-discrimination laws that prohibit using criminal history to discriminate against a protected class of people when making hiring decisions.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides guidelines to agencies and businesses regarding use of criminal history when making hiring decisions to avoid discrimination.

An understanding of what is considered criminal records is just the beginning, but searchers also need to know what will show up on the records, covered below.

Iowa Criminal Records vs Arrest Records: What Shows Up on Each?

When most people talk about criminal records, they may sometimes use arrest records or criminal history to mean the same thing; however, these records, while similar, do have some major differences.

An arrest record in Iowa simply means a person was charged with a crime and was taken into custody by the police. Arrest records will show when the person was arrested, why they were arrested, and where they are being held until they can make bail or until a hearing is held to release the person from custody.

An arrest typically occurs at the beginning of a case and is not the entire criminal record. In fact, an arrest is only one part of the overall case record.3

An Iowa criminal record includes all the elements of the arrest record listed above, but it provides the searcher with more details about the case. The most important part of the criminal record is not the arrest report, it is the disposition of the case.

Disposition means what happened after the case was presented in court. Criminal records show if the case was dismissed or dropped, if the person was acquitted (found not guilty), or if the person was found or entered a guilty plea to the charges.

Criminal records also show if the person was placed in a diversion program and the outcome of the program, or if there was a deferred prosecution. Criminal records contain pending charges that did not result in an arrest warrant, but instead were subject to a simple summons to appear in court.

Finally, criminal records show sentencing information such as probation or prison sentences. Criminal records will not show matters that were expunged by the courts.4

Official background checks are more concerned with convictions, but individuals may simply want to know who was arrested in their area and why someone is in jail, and how to find arrest records in Iowa for free is key information to have.

How To Review Recent Arrests & See Why Someone Is in an Iowa Jail

Finding out who’s in jail in Iowa starts with knowing where to look. When someone is taken into custody by law enforcement, the first things people ask are why that person was arrested and where the person is being detained.

Here are the steps for how to find out what someone was arrested for:

There are some key pieces of information a person needs before conducting a jail search to learn if a family member, friend, co-worker or other acquaintance is in custody. This information includes the following:

  • The person’s name is needed to conduct a search. At minimum a last name is needed to conduct most inmate searches. Having the arrestee’s full name can narrow down the search results.
  • Searchers must know the approximate date and time the person was arrested.
  • County or city law enforcement agency that arrested the individual.
A screenshot from Black Hawk county sheriff's office website's who's in jail page showing an empty search criteria, and a table with inmate names with corresponding descriptions such as date booked, time booked, charges, and bond amount.
Source: Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office20

Most jails are maintained by the local sheriff’s office, and these facilities typically hold persons arrested by city, state, county and sometimes federal law enforcement officers pending hearings or transfers to other facilities.

For convenience, a link to local sheriff’s department contact information and inmate rosters, where available, has been included in an easy-to-use table.

Look Up County Arrests & Mugshots in Iowa

Arrest records in Iowa can sometimes be found on the website for the local sheriff’s office, and many departments dictate that the public can search Iowa inmate rosters and current arrests either by doing a name search or pulling up a spreadsheet listing all currently incarcerated persons.

The table below lists the sheriff’s office, phone number and whether or not mugshots are available:

County Inmate Search Tool County Jail or Sheriff’s Office Phone Number Shows Mugshots?
Adair County Sheriff’s Office* 641-743-2148 X
Adams County Sheriff’s Office* 641-322-4444 X
Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office* 563-568-4521 X
Appanoose County Sheriff’s Office* 641-437-7106 X
Audubon County Sheriff’s Office* 712-563-2631 X
Benton County Sheriff’s Office* 319-472-2337, extension 2 X
Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office 319-291-2587 X
Boone County Sheriff’s Office 515-433-0524
Bremer County Sheriff’s Office** 319-352-5400, extension 2 X
Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office** 319-334-2017 X
Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Office 712-732-2452 X
Butler County Sheriff’s Office* 319-267-2410 X
Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office* 712-297-7583 X
Carroll County Sheriff’s Office** 712-792-4393 X
Cass County Sheriff’s Office* 712-243-2206 X
Cedar County Sheriff’s Office 563-886-2121 X
Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office 641-421-3004
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office** 712-225-6737 X
Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office** 641-394-3121 X
Clarke County Sheriff’s Office* 641-342-2914 X
Clay County Sheriff’s Office 712-264-4242
Clayton County Sheriff’s Office* 563-245-2422 X
Clinton County Sheriff’s Office 563-242-9211
Crawford County Sheriff’s Office* 712-263-2146 X
Dallas County Sheriff’s Office 515-993-5815
Davis County Sheriff’s Office** 641-664-2385 X
Decatur County Sheriff’s Office* 641-446-4111 X
Delaware County Sheriff’s Office** 563-927-3135 X
Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office* 319-753-8212 X
Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office 712-336-2793
Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office** 563-589-4400 X
Emmet County Sheriff’s Office** 712-362-2639 X
Fayette County Sheriff’s Office** 563-422-6067 X
Floyd County Sheriff’s Office** 641-257-6217 X
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office+ 641-456-2731 X
Fremont County Sheriff’s Office* 712-374-2115 X
Greene County Sheriff’s Office** 515-386-2136 X
Grundy County Sheriff’s Office* 319-824-6933 X
Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office* 641-747-2214 X
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office 515-832-8629
Hancock County Sheriff’s Office** 641-923-2621 X
Hardin County Sheriff’s Office 641-939-8189 X
Harrison County Sheriff’s Office** 712-644-2556 X
Henry County Sheriff’s Office* 319-385-2712 X
Howard County Sheriff’s Office* 563-547-3535 X
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office* 515-332-2471 X
Ida County Sheriff’s Office 712-364-3146
Iowa County Sheriff’s Office** 319-642-7307 X
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office** 563-652-3312 X
Jasper County Sheriff’s Office** 641-791-7081 X
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office** 641-472-4146 x
Johnson County Sheriff’s Office** 319-356-6020, extension 5 X
Jones County Sheriff’s Office* 319-462-4371 X
Keokuk County Sheriff’s Office** 641-622-2727 X
Kossuth County Sheriff’s Office** 515-295-9277 X
Lee County Sheriff’s Office* 319-376-2355 X
Linn County Sheriff’s Office 319-892-6100 X
Louisa County Sheriff’s Office* 319-523-4371 X
Lucas County Sheriff’s Office 641-774-5083
Lyon County Sheriff’s Office 712-472-8300 X
Madison County Sheriff’s Office** 515-462-3575 X
Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office** 641-673-2591 X
Marion County Sheriff’s Office 641-828-2245
Marshall County Sheriff’s Office 641-754-5725
Mills County Sheriff’s Office* 712-527-4275 X
Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office* 641-732-4740 X
Monona County Sheriff’s Office* 712-433-1414 X
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office* 641-932-7815 X
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office* 712-623-5107 X
Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office* 563-262-4190 X
O’Brien County Sheriff’s Office 712-957-5245 X
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office 712-754-2556
Page County Sheriff’s Office** 712-542-5193 X
Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office* 712-852-3535 X
Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office 712-546-8191 X
Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Office* 712-335-5071 X
Polk County Sheriff’s Office 515-323-5400
Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office 712-328-5737 X
Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office* 641-623-5679 X
Ringgold County Sheriff’s Office* 641-464-3921 X
Sac County Sheriff’s Office** 712-662-7127 X
Scott County Sheriff’s Office 563-326-8625
Shelby County Sheriff’s Office** 712-755-5026 X
Sioux County Sheriff’s Office 712-737-3131 X
Story County Sheriff’s Office* 515-382-7464 X
Tama County Sheriff’s Office* 641-484-3760 X
Taylor County Sheriff’s Office* 712-523-2153 X
Union County Sheriff’s Office* 641-782-7717 X
Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office* 319-293-3426 X
Wapello County Sheriff’s Office** 641-684-4350 X
Warren County Sheriff’s Office** 515-961-1104 X
Washington County Sheriff’s Office* 319-653-5902 X
Wayne County Sheriff’s Office 641-872-1566
Webster County Sheriff’s Office* 515-573-1410 X
Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office* 641-585-3632 X
Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office* 563-382-4268 X
Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office** 712-279-6040 X
Worth County Sheriff’s Office 641-324-2481
Wright County Sheriff’s Office* 515-602-6152 X

*Individuals must call the sheriff’s office to inquire about inmates: no online inmate search portal or roster available.
**The Sheriff’s Office uses VINELink for public inmate searches.
+County has no jail and contracts with surrounding counties to house arrestees.

A screenshot from Cedar county sheriff's office website's inmate roster page showing a search by inmate name bar and a list of names below with corresponding information such as age, sex, booked, and bond.
Source: Cedar County Sheriff’s Office21

With this information, searchers are ready to look for an arrest record or see if the person is in custody. To conduct this search, complete the following steps:

  1. Google Iowa [police or sheriff’s office name] arrest records or inmate roster.
  2. Review the top search results to locate the official agency website. Please note, local sheriff’s office or police department websites may end in .gov; however, they may also be .org, .net, or .com sites. Make sure the site linked is the official agency page.
  3. Look at the hyperlinks on the page for one labeled inmate roster or search for inmates.
  4. Enter the required information (such as name) to complete the search, or open the roster for departments that publish a list instead of allowing name-by-name searches.
  5. If there is no inmate roster, or link to search for current inmates or daily bookings, individuals can call the non-emergency phone number listed on the website.

For example, to find an inmate in Polk County, the search would look like this:

  1. Google Iowa Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrest records.
  2. Searchers would then click the link for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office jail and arrest information page.
  3. Clicking the current inmate listing hyperlink on the page will show the current arrest roster.

County law enforcement officers are not the only ones who arrest individuals charged with crimes. City police departments are also tasked with taking alleged offenders into custody, and making sure those arrestees are properly housed pending trial as covered below.

How Do You Look Up Recent Arrests in Iowa’s City Jails?

Anyone can seamlessly find recent arrests when a person is taken into custody by a municipal law enforcement agency. City police departments in Iowa typically use the county jail to house arrestees rather than maintain their own separate facilities.

If a friend or family member was taken into custody by city police in Iowa, they can usually be located by doing the following:

  1. In Google type Iowa [city police department] arrestee search.
  2. Review the top 1-4 search results for the official police department website and click the link for that page.
  3. Review the homepage to see if there is a link to search inmates or a hyperlink labeled city jail or corrections.
  4. If there is no link, review the page for the non-emergency number for the police department. Call this number to find out where someone who was arrested was taken for holding.

Using the example above, a search of Cedar Rapids Police Department’s website will reveal there is no city jail, but inquiries can be made by calling the non-emergency number, 319-286-5491, and is one way to find out where an arrestee was transported after being arrested by Cedar Rapids PD.5

County jails should always be the first place a person looks for someone who was arrested, find daily arrests.. When unable to locate someone at the county or city law enforcement level, a person can hire a bail bondsman to help locate a recent arrestee.

A bail bondsman is not required to locate a person who has been arrested, but can be a very valuable asset in doing so, and helping secure the person’s release from jail.6

A screenshot from Scott county sheriff's office website's inmate list page showing an empty search criteria.
Source: Scott County, Iowa22

An attorney can also prove to be a valuable resource for locating a person who was recently arrested. An attorney can also start working on a defense immediately, and petition the court to get the person released on a written promise to appear rather than posting money or property as bond/bail.7

Arrests and charges are among the initial steps in building a criminal history. Knowing how to locate arrests can help establish if a candidate is the best person for a position, or if there are things someone is trying to downplay or keep hidden, and is how to find out someone’s charges in jail.

Searching county jail lists may also show a photo of the alleged offender, but there is not a central mugshot database in the state.

How To Perform an Iowa Public Arrest Record Search (Statewide Lookup)

While it is possible to find arrestees using the information provided above, sometimes an arrest was made and the person was released or bonded out before the search was conducted, but searchers still want to know if someone was arrested in Iowa at some point during their past.

To run a statewide search of arrests records in Iowa, do the following:

  1. In Google or another search engine, type Iowa statewide arrest records search.
  2. Review the top search results for the official government website that provides the information. In this case, it will be the Iowa Courts website which allows users to view all criminal case data that is not restricted by law. Note that even though most government sites end in .gov, this official site ends in
  3. Select the hyperlink labeled Click Here to Search.
  4. Click the Case Search link under the Trial Courts heading.
  5. Enter as much information about the subject as possible. At minimum a last name is required to conduct a search.
  6. Under the word Role click the arrow to open the drop-down menu and select Defendant from the menu.
  7. Keep the word All under the County heading.
  8. Under Case Type, choose Criminal from the drop-down menu.
  9. Confirm the searcher is not a robot.
  10. Click the Search button to open the results.
  11. Tap the case number to open the case file on the screen.
  12. Click the Filings heading to see all the filing information for that particular case. This will include if any warrants were issued leading to an arrest including any bond information if available.
A screenshot from Iowa courts online electronic docket record search showing an empty name search form.
Source: Iowa Courts Online23

While each case return will have to be reviewed to see if an arrest was made, this search does cover the entire state and does not necessitate reaching out to each individual sheriff’s office or police department to see if someone was arrested.8

Knowing where someone is in jail can help with getting them out of jail, or in making contact to work on the person’s defense, add money to their account, or pay their daily incarceration fees, since Iowa charges inmates daily room and board when arrested pretrial, and bonding someone out of jail as covered next.

Learn How To Contact a Jail Inmate & Post Bail

When someone is arrested, family and friends want to know how to make contact or how to post bail and get the person released before the hearing when possible.

The steps used to locate an inmate can also be used to learn about visitation, contact or bail procedures at the jail. By opening the website for the sheriff’s office housing the inmate, the searcher can find a link outlining these policies and processes. Some websites also contain a list of approved bail bondsmen that may help with posting bail.

For convenience, use the tables of county sheriff’s offices above to visit each county website and review information on how to contact inmates in the county jail. Click the link for the county jail, look for a hyperlink title inmate information or inmate visitation and use that link to find out how to contact someone in the county jail.

For example, Polk County, Iowa has the largest population in the state.

To find out about visitation or contact with an inmate in the Polk County Jail, click the link the table above, then select the hyperlink to go to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office homepage. The homepage outlines the policy for visitation, the days of the week and times for visits, and brief information on web-based visits.

Clicking the link title “Visiting an Inmate” will provide more detailed information.9

Bail can be posted either at the county jail or at the clerk of court’s office where the arrest occurred. To find out where to post bail, use the table of county sheriff’s offices above or clerk of court’s locations below, and call the non-emergency number to get the address and preferred methods of payment.

For example, when searching Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office bonding procedures, the official website outlines how to bail someone out of the facility in that county. The section titled “Bonding Procedures” outlines how to post bond at that facility including dates and times cash bonds can be posted and how to locate a licensed bail bondsman.10

Iowa does allow the use of a commercial bail bondsman to help post bail for an arrestee, but it is important to make sure the person used is a licensed professional certified to work in the state. The state has also established maximum bond amounts through Iowa Code 811.2 which means judges must follow a uniform schedule when setting bond based on the offense classification.11

Since arrests are only one part of the overall criminal record, it’s also important to know how to run a complete criminal history on someone in Iowa, and this information is covered next.

How To Search Criminal Records in Iowa (Check Anyone’s Criminal History)

Arrest records in Iowa are just a part of the overall criminal record, and knowing how to run a statewide criminal record search is vital when making decisions on hiring a new employee or leasing a home or apartment to someone.

Since all charges end up in court either for a dismissal or hearing, a statewide search or criminal records can start with the state’s judicial branch.

Learn how to search local records at the clerk of court’s office for situations when a local background check may be sufficient to make an informed decision below.

How To Complete a Criminal Record Search Using the County’s Court Case Access (Iowa)

The role of the clerk of court is to build the case record and maintain the record until it can be destroyed based on the timeline established by state law. The clerk’s office, therefore, is an excellent source of information for cases that are heard in the county where the clerk operates.

While the clerk cannot provide statewide criminal history information, it can provide local records that may not be available through the online portal, or can provide hardcopies if needed. The clerk is also how to find out if someone is in jail since these matters must be docketed (placed on a calendar for hearing) more quickly than cases that do not involve arrests.

To search records, go to the local courthouse clerk of court’s office and request access to a public terminal at the reception desk. For convenience, the table here lists the address and phone number of each clerk of court in Iowa:

County Clerk of Court’s Office Address Phone Number
Adair County Clerk of Court 400 Public Sq Ste 7
Greenfield, Iowa 50849
Adams County Clerk of Court 500 9th St
Corning, Iowa 50841
Allamakee County Clerk of Court 110 Allamakee St
Waukon, Iowa 52172
Appanoose County Clerk of Court 201 N 12th St
Centerville, Iowa 52544
Audubon County Clerk of Court 318 Leroy St Number 6
Audubon, Iowa 50025
Benton County Clerk of Court 111 E 4th St Number 4
Vinton, Iowa 52349
Black Hawk County Clerk of Court 316 East 5th St
Waterloo, Iowa 50703
Boone County Clerk of Court 201 State St
Boone, Iowa 50036
Bremer County Clerk of Court 415 E Bremer Ave
Waverly, Iowa 50677
319-352-5661, extension 101
Buchanan County Clerk of Court 210 5th Ave Northeast Suite B
Independence, Iowa 50644
Buena Vista County Clerk of Court 215 E 5th St
Storm Lake, Iowa 50588
Butler County Clerk of Court 428 6th St
Allison, Iowa 50602
Calhoun County Clerk of Court 416 4th St
Rockwell City, Iowa 50579
Carroll County Clerk of Court 114 E 6th St Suite 5
Carroll, Iowa 51401
Cass County Clerk of Court 5 W 7th St
Atlantic, Iowa 50022
Cedar County Clerk of Court 400 Cedar St
Tipton, Iowa 52772
Cerro Gordo County Clerk of Court 220 N Washington
Mason City, Iowa 50401
Cherokee County Clerk of Court 520 W Main St
Cherokee, Iowa 51012
Chickasaw County Clerk of Court 8 E Prospect
New Hampton, Iowa 50659
Clarke County Clerk of Court 100 S Main
Osceola, Iowa 50213
Clay County Clerk of Court 215 W 4th St

Spencer, Iowa 51301

Clayton County Clerk of Court 111 High St Northeast Ste 203
Elkader, Iowa 52043
Clinton County Clerk of Court 612 N 2nd St
Clinton, Iowa 52732
Crawford County Clerk of Court 1202 Broadway Suite 1-P
Denison, Iowa 51442
Dallas County Clerk of Court 801 Court St
Adel, Iowa 50003
Davis County Clerk of Court 100 Courthouse Sq
Bloomfield, Iowa 52537
Decatur County Clerk of Court 207 N Main St
Leon, Iowa 50144
Delaware County Clerk of Court 301 E Main St
Manchester, Iowa 52057
Des Moines County Clerk of Court 513 N Main St
Burlington, Iowa 52601
Dickinson County Clerk of Court 1802 Hill Ave Number 2506
Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360
Dubuque County Clerk of Court 720 Central Ave
Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Emmet County Clerk of Court 609 1st Ave N
Estherville, Iowa 51031
Fayette County Clerk of Court 114 N Vine St Suite 200
West Union, Iowa 52175
Floyd County Clerk of Court 101 S Main St Ste 403
Charles City, Iowa 50616
Franklin County Clerk of Court 12 1st Ave Northwest Suite 203
Hampton, Iowa 50441
Fremont County Clerk of Court POB 549
Sidney, Iowa 51652
Greene County Clerk of Court 114 N Chestnut
Jefferson, Iowa 50129
Grundy County Clerk of Court 706 G Ave
Grundy Center, Iowa 50638
Guthrie County Clerk of Court 200 N 5th St
Guthrie Center, Iowa 50115
Hamilton County Clerk of Court 2300 Superior St Suite 9
Webster City, Iowa 50595
Hancock County Clerk of Court 855 State St
Garner, Iowa 50438
Hardin County Clerk of Court 1215 Edgington Ave Suite 7
Eldora, Iowa 50627
Harrison County Clerk of Court 111 N 2nd Ave
Logan, Iowa 51546
Henry County Clerk of Court 100 E Washington Suite 300
Mount Pleasant, Iowa 52641
Howard County Clerk of Court 137 N Elm St
Cresco, Iowa 52136
Humboldt County Clerk of Court POB 100
Dakota City, Iowa 50529
Ida County Clerk of Court 401 Moorehead St
Ida Grove, Iowa 51445
Iowa County Clerk of Court 901 Court Ave
Marengo, Iowa 52301
Jackson County Clerk of Court 201 W Platt St
Maquoketa, Iowa 52060
Jasper County Clerk of Court 101 First St North Rm 104
Newton, Iowa 50205
Jefferson County Clerk of Court 51 E Briggs Suite 5
Fairfield, Iowa 52556
Johnson County Clerk of Court 417 S Clinton St
Iowa City, Iowa 52240
Jones County Clerk of Court 500 W Main St
Anamosa, Iowa 52205
Keokuk County Clerk of Court 101 S Main St
Sigourney, Iowa 52591
Kossuth County Clerk of Court 114 W State St
Algona, Iowa 50511
Lee County Clerk of Court 701 Ave F
Fort Madison, Iowa 52627
Linn County Clerk of Court 51 3rd Ave Bridge
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Louisa County Clerk of Court POB 268
Wapello, Iowa 52653
Lucas County Clerk of Court 916 Braden Ave
Chariton, Iowa 50049
Lyon County Clerk of Court 206 S 2nd Ave
Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246
Madison County Clerk of Court POB 152
Winterset, Iowa 50273
Mahaska County Clerk of Court 106 S 1st St
Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577
Marion County Clerk of Court 214 East Main
Knoxville, Iowa 50138
Marshall County Clerk of Court 17 E Main St
Marshalltown, Iowa 50158
Mills County Clerk of Court 418 Sharp St
Glenwood, Iowa 51534
Mitchell County Clerk of Court POB 209
Osage, Iowa 50461
Monona County Clerk of Court 610 Iowa Ave
Onawa, Iowa 51040
Monroe County Clerk of Court 10 Benton Ave E
Albia, Iowa 52531
Montgomery County Clerk of Court 105 Coolbaugh St
Red Oak, Iowa 51566
Muscatine County Clerk of Court 401 E 3rd St
Muscatine, Iowa 52761
O’Brien County Clerk of Court 155 S Hayes Ave
Primghar, Iowa 51245
Osceola County Clerk of Court 300 7th St
Sibley, Iowa 51249
Page County Clerk of Court 112 E Main St
Clarinda, Iowa 51632
Palo Alto County Clerk of Court 1010 Broadway
Emmetsburg, Iowa 50536
Plymouth County Clerk of Court 215 Fourth Ave Southeast
LeMars, Iowa 51031
Pocahontas County Clerk of Court 99 Court Sq
Pocahontas, Iowa 50574
Polk County Clerk of Court 500 Mulberry St Rm 212
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Pottawattamie County Clerk of Court 227 S 6th St
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51502
Poweshiek County Clerk of Court 302 E Main St
Montezuma, Iowa 50171
Ringgold County Clerk of Court 109 W Madison Ste 203
Mount Ayr, Iowa 50854
Sac County Clerk of Court 100 Northwest State St Suite 12
Sac City, Iowa 50583
Scott County Clerk of Court 400 W 4th St
Davenport, Iowa 52801
Shelby County Clerk of Court 612 Court St
Harlan, Iowa 51537
Sioux County Clerk of Court 210 Central Avenue Southwest
Orange City, Iowa 51041
Story County Clerk of Court 1315 S B Ave
Nevada, Iowa 50201
Tama County Clerk of Court 100 W High St
Toledo, Iowa 52342
Taylor County Clerk of Court 403 Jefferson St Ste 4
Bedford, Iowa 50833
Union County Clerk of Court 300 N Pine Ste 6
Creston, Iowa 50801
Van Buren County Clerk of Court Office 4th and Dodge
Keosauqua, Iowa 52565
Wapello County Clerk of Court 101 W 4th St
Ottumwa, Iowa 52501
Warren County Clerk of Court 115 North Howard St Ste 100
Indianola, Iowa 50125
Washington County Clerk of Court 224 W Main St
Washington, Iowa 52353
Wayne County Clerk of Court POB 435
Corydon, Iowa 50060
Webster County Clerk of Court 701 Central Ave
Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501
Winnebago County Clerk of Court 126 South Clark Suite 1
Forest City, Iowa 50436
Winneshiek County Clerk of Court 201 W Main St
Decorah, Iowa 52101
Woodbury County Clerk of Court 620 Douglas St Rm 101
Sioux City, Iowa 51101
Worth County Clerk of Court 1000 Central Ave
Northwood, Iowa 50459
Wright County Clerk of Court 115 N Main St
Clarion, Iowa 50525

Using the public terminals at the clerk’s office shows what the person was charged with in that county only. It does not provide data on charges that may have occurred in other counties in Iowa.

A statewide search of the court’s records, however, can disclose the required information.

Perform a Statewide Criminal Record Lookup via the Iowa Courts Online

Most businesses and agencies require a statewide or national criminal history, so knowing where to look for statewide records is important to hiring managers, business owners or other stakeholders in an organization.

To do a statewide criminal record search for Iowa offenders, do the following steps:

  1. Open the Iowa Judicial Branch website.
  2. Click the online portal titled Iowa Courts Online Search.
  3. Select the link to search all case records available at the top of the page.
  4. Under Trial Courts, click the Case Search link.
  5. Key in the subject’s full name and any aliases if known.
  6. Set the subject’s Role to Defendant.
  7. Choose “Criminal” under the section for “Case Type”.
  8. Confirm a robot is not doing the search, then hit the “Search” button.
  9. A list of cases with that defendant’s name will appear. Clicking on each case will display detailed information such as whether or not the case was dismissed, if the person was acquitted or found guilty, and sentencing information.

Using the automated online directory is a quick, convenient way to see what someone has been tried for in Iowa.

While it can provide a complete history, it is not considered a certified or official criminal background check, but the process to request an official background check is discussed next.

How To Request a Copy of Criminal Records in IA

When someone needs an official, certified criminal history for employment or leasing purposes, they need to know where to get one and how to make the request. This is how to check if someone has a criminal record so decisions about employment or housing can take a person’s convictions into consideration.

To get a copy of Iowa criminal records, do the following:

  1. Open the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation website.
  2. Choose the method for making the request: online, via mail, or in person and follow the steps in the table below for each request method:
Request Method Steps to Complete Request
  1. Click the DPS website.
  2. Select the Iowa Record Check Online link near the top of the page.
  3. Complete the form that populates on the screen.
  4. Click the Submit button to send the request.
Via Mail
  1. Click the DPS website.
  2. Download the Criminal History Record Check Billing Form.
  3. Fill out the form completely (including signature of the subject providing consent for the search).
  4. Mail the form along with the payment method to the address listed below.

Support Ops Bureau
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines Iowa 50319

In Person Proceed to the address listed for the mail-in applications between the hours of 8am and 4pm, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Reports can be provided immediately if the subject of the search is making the request. All other requests will be processed in the same manner as mail-in or online requests.

Reports from online or mail-in requests can be sent to any valid email address, or mailed or faxed to any United States or Canadian address or fax number. Most requests are processed within 1 to 3 business days, but can take longer due to staffing issues or other issues.12

A screenshot of the online billing form for criminal history records from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation asks for the request date, DCI account number (if applicable), and requester information (i.e., name, address, and contact information), followed by the instructions for online submissions.
Source: Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation24

Background checks through the Iowa Department of Public Safety do not include an FBI rap sheet. This must be requested directly from the FBI when a nationwide screening is required.12

Information included on the criminal record includes all convictions (both misdemeanor and felony), pending charges, arrests and potentially any diversion programs that are still in effect or were not successfully completed. Dismissed charges are removed from the criminal record.

Sentencing data such as probation or incarceration will show up on the record, and ways to search probation records or parolee database reports are discussed in the next paragraphs.13

See Who Is on Probation & Parole in Iowa: Search Probationers & Parolees Online for Free

The disposition of a case shows if a person was convicted and what sentence was imposed in the case, or if the person was placed on supervision through a diversion program or deferred prosecution. Another area of concern is whether or not someone was placed in prison and released on parole.

In any case, the following image displays the total number of probationers and parolees in Iowa and compares it with other states across the United States. Additionally, it showcases the ethnicities of individuals on community supervision in Iowa, including probation and parole.

An image displaying the map of the United States, with Iowa state highlighted in red, presenting the probation and parole per 100,000 U.S. residents by ethnicities.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Probation can be imposed for pretrial diversionary programs or can be a post-guilty sentencing condition a defendant is subject to. To search probation records in Iowa, do the following:

  1. Open the Iowa Department of Corrections website. IDOC handles both probation cases and incarceration matters.
  2. .Select Offender Search on the homepage.
  3. Enter the name of the subject and click the “Find” button to perform the search.
  4. Check the list of search returns to make sure the record matches the subject of the search.
  5. Click the name to pull up details of the record.
  6. Scroll to the bottom of the record to see if the person was placed on probation or was placed in custody.

Other information found in the record includes the charges the person was convicted of, commitment date (or sentencing date), end date of the sentence (probation or incarceration), and judicial district where the case was tried.14

A screenshot from Iowa department of corrections website's offender search page showing an empty search criteria.
Source: Iowa Offender Search25

Parole means a person was incarcerated in an Iowa prison, but was released to community supervision before the end of the sentencing date. The process of accessing parole information in Iowa can be of great use to searchers, but a brief rundown of searching the state parolee database follows:

  1. Open the Iowa Board of Parole offender search website.
  2. Enter the subject’s name and click the Find button.
  3. Review the search results to make sure the information displayed matches the subject of the search.

Clicking on the subject’s name will reveal the following information: gender, date of birth, supervision status or upcoming parole hearings if the person has not yet been released, offense classification (misdemeanor or felony), and end date of supervision.14

A screenshot from the state of Iowa board of parole website's offender search page showing an empty search criteria.
Source: Iowa Board of Parole26

Probation and parole are included in the overall criminal record for a person in Iowa, and all criminal records are public record unless they are sealed or expunged by the courts. The process to seal or expunge a record is outlined below.

Steps To Seal or Expunge a Criminal Record in Iowa

Criminal charges and convictions can be a huge roadblock to gainful employment, but it is possible to expunge certain Iowa criminal records. 

Unlike other states, an expungement in Iowa does not completely erase a record, it simply seals it from public view meaning it cannot be included in a commercial or official criminal background check, and cannot be used when making hiring, licensure or housing decisions. Iowa expungements are very limited.

The only matters that can be eligible for expungement are listed below:

  • Juvenile cases that were transferred to adult court initially, then moved back to juvenile court for hearing.15
  • Non-convictions such as dismissed charges or matters where the defendant was found not guilty. A waiting period of six months is required before a person can petition to expunge the record. If the person was found not-guilty due to mental defect, the matter is also not eligible to be expunged.
  • Conviction of public intoxication and two years have passed since the conviction with no additional charges filed within that two year period.
  • Conviction of possession of alcohol while under age and two years have passed since the conviction with no additional charges filed within that two year period.
  • Conviction of prostitution by person under the age of 18 and and two years have passed since the conviction with no additional charges filed within that two year period.
  • Other misdemeanors except those prohibited by law, eight years have passed since the conviction with no additional charges filed in that timeframe, all sentencing requirements have been completed, and have not received any other deferred judgements.4

The process to expunge a record in Iowa and remove it from public record is as follows:

  1. Go to the clerk of court’s office where the charges were adjudicated (meaning where the hearing took place) and fill out a petition to expunge the record.
  2. File the petition with the clerk of court.
  3. Submit a copy of the petition to the county attorney (district attorney).

A petition to seal/expunge a case in the state can also be filed online by using the Iowa Judicial Branch e-filing link. Using this link requires the individual to register for an account with the e-file system.

There is no fee for filing a petition to expunge. A judge will review the petition and any response that may be filed by the county attorney and make a decision on the matter.15 Be aware, however, that arrest records in Iowa may still appear on local police records even when a case has been expunged.

While an attorney is not required to file a petition to expunge a record in Iowa, an attorney can be a valuable asset in making sure the forms are completed correctly, the person is eligible for expungement and takes care of any other matters that may arise from filing the petition.16

Another important part of a person’s record when not expunged is if the person was in prison. Also, sometimes people are just curious about who is in prison in the state, and how to find out information on prisoners.

How To Locate State & Federal Prisoners in Iowa

Another aspect of a person’s Iowa criminal record is whether the person was sentenced to a term in prison or was placed on supervised or unsupervised community punishment. Many people may wonder who is in prison in the state or if someone has ever been in prison in Iowa.

This search is different from how to find out if someone was arrested because the individuals in the custody of the department of corrections have been tried and convicted of a crime, not just arrested on suspicion.

State prisoners can be found using the Iowa Department of Corrections Offender Search Tool and all you need is their first name, last name and date of birth. The online records will show the person’s full name, DOC number, gender, date of birth, offense classification, and custody status (in-custody, probation, or released).14

Iowa does not host any federal prisons so anyone pending or sentences for criminal charges won’t be in the state but they can still be found using the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator.

Another part of a person’s criminal record that many want to know is who is wanted by law enforcement in their area, and below is how to search for active warrants in Iowa.

Completing an Iowa Warrant Search: How To See if You or Someone Else Is Currently Wanted in IA

When a person is accused of a crime, they are sometimes subject to an arrest warrant. This is most likely in the case where the person has some sort of criminal record, is considered a flight risk, or the crime the person is accused of committing is especially heinous.

Warrants are considered public record in Iowa, but not every law enforcement agency publishes a warrant list. Those that do encourage individuals with an outstanding warrant to turn themselves in and take care of the charges.

Using the table of sheriff’s offices listed above searchers can learn that Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office has an online warrant list, but Lee County Sheriff’s Department does not.

You can also see if your county has an arrest warrant list by googling “[name of your county] warrant search” and navigating the the top few results. 

A screenshot from Pottawattamie county sheriff's office website's warrants list page showing a table with names, age, height, weight, gender, and race.
Source: Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office27

Additionally, city law enforcement agencies may publish a list of the city’s most wanted online for the public and request anyone with information call in on a tip line or crimestoppers number.

Further guidance on tracking down details of wanted individuals throughout Iowa can be found in the step-by-step resource on looking up warrants throughout the state.

When looking for work in Iowa, applicants want to know if they will be subjected to a background check, and what kind of agencies require extensive screenings and we’ve provided a table to help narrow down the search.

Iowa Background Checks: A Brief Review

Like other states, there are government agencies within Iowa that either conduct background checks or require a background screening to look for disqualifying offenses.

The table below identifies these agencies and discusses what is covered in background checks from each:

Official Iowa Background Check Agency Screening Information
Iowa Department of Public Safety
  • Employment screenings
  • Licensure screenings
  • Volunteer background checks
  • Personal criminal records
Iowa Board of Professional Licensure
  • Athletic trainers
  • Barbers
  • Behavioral scientists
  • Chiropractors
  • Cosmetologists
  • Dieticians
  • Hearing aid specialists
  • Massage therapists
  • Morticians
  • Nursing home administrators
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Physical therapists
  • Physician assistants
  • Podiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Social workers
  • Speech pathologists
  • Translators
Iowa Board of Medicine
  • Physicians
  • Surgeons
  • Acupuncturists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Genetic counselors
Iowa Department of Human Services
  • Child care workers
  • Adult day care workers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Adoptive parents
  • Foster parents
Iowa Board of Education
  • Teachers
  • Teaching assistants
  • Volunteers
  • School administrators
  • School staff

Disqualifying offenses are typically violent misdemeanor or felony crimes that can or have caused bodily harm or death. Among those offenses that disqualify a person for a professional license or employment is conviction for a sex offense, which is outlined below.

Determine Who Is a Registered Sex Offender in Iowa: How To Search the Registry

Sex offenses are considered particularly harmful offenses, and people want to know if there are any registered sex offenses living in their area.

To find out if there is a registered sex offender in a certain neighborhood, or to see if an acquaintance has been convicted of a sex offense, do the following search:

  1. Open the Iowa Department of Public Safety to access the state sex offender registry.
  2. After clicking the registry link, read the disclaimer and complete the image check, then click the Submit button on the screen.
  3. Enter the person’s first and last name to do a name search, or enter an address under the map search tab to see a geographic area.

Search results include a mugshot of the offender, the sex offender level the person is required to register under, full name and aliases, physical description of the person, any identifying scars or marks, last known address, and the offense for which the person was convicted and these can be matched to arrest records when conducting searches.17

A screenshot from the Iowa sex offender registry website showing an empty search criteria and search tips.
Source: Iowa Sex Offender Registry28

When searching for any part of a person’s criminal history, whether it is a sex offender search, prisoner search or arrest records, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the laws that govern the release and use of any criminal records in Iowa.

A Recap of Iowa State Laws on Criminal & Arrest Records

Iowa is currently not a ban the box state meaning that employers can inquire about a person’s criminal history at any point during the application or hiring process except in Des Moines which has passed a city ordinance prohibiting city agencies from inquiring about criminal history on applications.18

Release of records is outlined in the state’s public record law, Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code. This statute makes all arrest and criminal records public domain unless the matter has been expunged, or meets other criteria outlined in the statute such as juvenile cases or information about witnesses or victims.

Iowa Code 481—50.9(135C) requires a check for abuse of a child or dependent adult on all workers in childcare facilities, adult care facilities, individuals working with the elderly or disabled adults or nurse aides. This is for individuals who provide both direct and indirect services and for volunteers and includes a felony registry search in addition to a sex offender registry search.

Iowa workers are also protected under federal statutes including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which limits background checks to a seven year lookback period for credit history and non-convictions. FCRA rules cover commercial background check agencies that provide the service to employers for a fee in addition to state agencies that conduct background screenings.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws to make sure agencies or organizations are not using criminal history as a means to unlawfully exclude a protected class of candidates from positions, and provides guidance to employers on how to use criminal history and arrests in making decisions.

Written consent is required to conduct an official, commercial use background check on anyone other than personal use in Iowa, and background check forms by third-parties submitted to the Department of Public Safety without indicating the subject’s consent will not be processed. Personal background checks do not necessarily require consent, but these searches cannot be used for employment or housing decisions.19

Running arrest record checks in Iowa does not have to be a difficult task, and this streamlined resource can help anyone find out if someone they know has been arrested, is in jail, or has a criminal history with just a few clicks of the mouse. Getting Iowa criminal records can help make important decisions and avoid issues down the road.


1Code of Iowa. (2023, January 6). Code of Iowa 2023. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

2Maurer, R. (2019, June 12). FCRA’s Seven-Year Reporting Window Begins with Charge, Not Dismissal. SHRM. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

3Des Moines Public Intoxication Lawyer | Public Intoxication Iowa. (n.d.). Feld Law Firm. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

4Expungement | Student Legal Services. (n.d.). Student Legal Services. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

5Welcome to the Cedar Rapids Police Department. (n.d.). City of Cedar Rapids. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

6Bail Bonds 101: Everything You Need to Know. (n.d.). Bail Bonds DIRECT. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

7How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You When You’ve Been Arrested for a Crime. (2022, April 20). Legal Services Link. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

8Iowa Judicial Branch. (n.d.). Iowa Courts Online Search. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

9Visiting an Inmate? (n.d.). Polk County Iowa. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

10Jail Division. (n.d.). Woodbury County. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

11District Court – Uniform Bond Schedule. (n.d.). Iowa Judicial Branch. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

12Criminal History Record Check Information | Iowa Department of Public Safety. (n.d.). Iowa Department of Public Safety. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

13Criminal History Frequently Asked Questions | Iowa Department of Public Safety. (n.d.). Iowa Department of Public Safety. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

14Offender View. (2023, January 6). Iowa DOC. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

15Can I Expunge My Adult Criminal Conviction in Iowa? (n.d.). Iowa Legal Aid. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

16Defense Attorney Explains Record Expungement in Dallas County, IA. (n.d.). McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

17Iowa Sex Offender Registry. (2023, January 6). Iowa DPS. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

18Des Moines City Ordinance. (2023, January 6). Ban the Box Des Moines. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <,083.pdf?pdf=16%2c083&t=1653591985623&pdf=16%2c083&t=1653591985623>

19FAQs about employee background checks. (2016, December 1). Iowa Association of Business and Industry. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from <>

20Who’s In Jail.” Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

21Inmate Roster – Sheriff’s Office – Cedar.” Cedar County, Iowa. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

22Inmate Listing | Scott County, Iowa.” Scott County, Iowa |. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

23Iowa Courts Online.” Iowa Courts Online. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

24Criminal History Record Check Billing Form.” Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

25Iowa Offender Search. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

26Offender Search | Iowa Board of Parole.” Iowa Board of Parole. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

27Warrants.” Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>

28Search The Iowa Sex Offender Registry.” Iowa Sex Offender Registry. Accessed 3 May 2023. <>