Easily access free Iowa criminal and arrest records. Just enter a name to find out if there’s a history in any IA county.
Iowa, with its nearly 4 million residents, can make tracking someone’s background a challenge amidst various record-keeping agencies. Records Page simplifies this process with our free guides, helping you navigate public records.

Our guides are valuable for:

  • Checking recent Iowa arrests, reasons, mugshots, and bail options.
  • Exploring Iowa court records for a person’s criminal history.
  • Obtaining copies of Iowa criminal records and learning how to seal or expunge them.
  • Discovering active warrants in Iowa.
  • Identifying whether someone is incarcerated in a federal or state prison in Iowa.
  • Conducting an Iowa background check for various screening purposes.
  • Understanding Iowa state public record laws to ensure fair hiring and employment practices.

Click Here to Search this form: https://iowa.recordspage.org/arrest-criminal-records/

Public Information in Iowa

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 are defined under Chapter 22 of the Iowa 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, files that identify confidential informants or witnesses to crimes, or
  • Juvenile criminal records.

Ultimately, all adult arrests, charges, and convictions are considered public records 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 arrest records which are also considered public records but do not show as much detail as a full criminal history report.
The 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 the 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.
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.

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 Discover Recent Arrests & Find Out 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 a 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, and
  • County or city law enforcement agency that arrested the individual.

Jail Administration and Jurisdiction

Most jails are administered by the local sheriff’s office. These facilities primarily detain individuals who have been apprehended by city, state, county, and occasionally federal law enforcement personnel. Detainees are held in these facilities until their court hearings or transfers to alternative detention centers.

Contact Information and Inmate Rosters
For your convenience, we have provided a user-friendly table that includes links to local sheriff’s department contact details and available inmate rosters.

How to Search for Arrest Records and Inmate Information in Iowa

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:

Google Iowa [Police or Sheriff’s Office Name] Arrest Records or Inmate Roster.

    • Review the top search results to locate the official agency website. Please note, that 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.
    • Look at the hyperlinks on the page for one labeled “Inmate Roster” or “Search for Inmates.”
    • 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.
    • 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:

Google Iowa Polk County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Records.

    • Searchers would then click the link for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office jail and arrest information page.
    • 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 to Look Up Recent Arrests in Iowa’s City Jails

Here is how to 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.

In Google, Type “Iowa [City Police Department] Arrestee Search.”

    • Review the top 1-4 search results for the official police department website and click the link for that page.
    • Review the homepage to see if there is a link to search inmates or a hyperlink labeled “City Jail” or “Corrections.”
    • 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.
County jails should always be the first place a person looks for someone who was arrested, and 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.

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

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.

Locating Arrests and Charges
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.

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

Performing an Iowa Public Arrest Record Search (Statewide Records 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 do a statewide search of arrest records in Iowa, do the following:

  • In Google or another search engine, type Iowa statewide arrest records search.
  • 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 .ia.us.
  • Select the hyperlink labeled Click Here to Search.
  • Click the Case Search link under the Trial Courts heading.
  • Enter as much information about the subject as possible. At a minimum, a last name is required to conduct a search.
  • Under the word Role click the arrow to open the drop-down menu and select Defendant from the menu.
  • Keep the word All under the County heading.
  • Under Case Type, choose Criminal from the drop-down menu.
  • Confirm the searcher is not a robot.
  • Click the Search button to open the results.
  • Tap the case number to open the case file on the screen.
  • 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.

Locating an Inmate and Posting Bail in Iowa

  • Introduction: 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.
  • 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.
  • Locating an Inmate: 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.
  • County Sheriff’s Office Information: 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 titled inmate information or inmate visitation, and use that link to find out how to contact someone in the county jail.
  • Example – Polk County, Iowa: For example, Polk County, Iowa has the largest population in the state, and to find out about visitation or contact with an inmate in the Polk County Jail, click the link in 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 titled “Visiting an Inmate” will provide more detailed information.

  • Posting Bail: 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 the clerk of court’s locations below, and call the non-emergency number to get the address and preferred methods of payment.
  • Example – Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office: 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 bonds at that facility, including dates and times cash bonds can be posted and how to locate a licensed bail bondsman.
  • Licensed Bail Bondsmen in Iowa: 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. Iowa has also established maximum bond amounts through Iowa Code 811.2, which means judges must follow a uniform schedule when setting bonds based on the offense classification.
  • Searching Criminal Records in Iowa: 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 (Guide To Check Someone’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 dismissal or a hearing, a statewide search of criminal records can start with the state’s judicial branch.
Local Records Search: Learn how to search local records at the clerk of the court’s office for situations when a local background check may be sufficient to make an informed decision below.

Perform Statewide Criminal Record Searches in Iowa Through 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, follow these steps:

  • Open the Iowa Judicial Branch website.
  • Click the online portal titled Iowa Courts Online Search.
  • Select the link to search all case records available at the top of the page.
  • Under Trial Courts, click the Case Search link.
  • Key in the subject’s full name and any aliases if known.
  • Set the subject’s Role to the Defendant.
  • Choose Criminal under the section for Case Type.
  • Confirm a robot is not doing the search, then hit the Search button.
  • 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.

Probationers and Parolees in Iowa: How to Access Free Online Searches

Case Disposition: The disposition of a case provides information about a person’s conviction status, the imposed sentence, or whether they were placed under supervision through a diversion program or deferred prosecution. It also indicates whether an individual was incarcerated and subsequently released on parole.

Data Comparison: The following image presents data on the total number of probationers and parolees in Iowa, comparing it with other states across the United States.

Ethnicity in Community Supervision: Additionally, the image illustrates the ethnicities of individuals under community supervision in Iowa, encompassing both probation and parole.

How to Search Probation Records in Iowa

Visit the Iowa Department of Corrections Website: The Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) website is the primary resource for accessing probation records and information related to incarceration cases.

Select Offender Search: On the homepage of the IDOC website, locate and click on the “Offender Search” option.

Enter the Subject’s Name and Initiate the Search

  • Enter the name of the subject whose probation records you want to access.
  • Click the “Find” button to initiate the search.

Verify Search Results: Review the list of search results to ensure that the displayed record corresponds to the subject of your search.

Access Record Details: Click on the subject’s name to access the detailed record.

Check for Probation or Custody Status: Scroll to the bottom of the record to determine whether the individual in question has been placed on probation or is in custody.

Additional Information in the Record

  • The record may also contain supplementary information, including:
  • Charges the individual was convicted of.
  • Date of commitment (or sentencing).
  • End date of the sentence, whether it is related to probation or incarceration.
  • Judicial district where the case was tried.

Parole in Iowa: Searching the State Parolee Database

To access information about individuals who have been incarcerated in an Iowa prison but have been released to community supervision before the completion of their sentencing date, follow these steps:

  • Open the Iowa Board of Parole Offender Search Website
  • Enter the Subject’s Name and Click the Find Button
  • Review the Search Results

Ensure that the displayed information matches the subject of your search.

Click on the Subject’s Name
By clicking on the subject’s name, you can access the following details:

    • Gender
    • Date of Birth
    • Supervision Status
    • Upcoming Parole Hearings (if applicable and if the person has not yet been released)
    • Offense Classification (Misdemeanor or Felony)
    • End Date of Supervision

Probation and Parole in Iowa
Probation and parole are included in the overall criminal record for a person in Iowa, and all criminal records are public records 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.
  • 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 a 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 a person under the age of 18 and two years have passed since the conviction with no additional charges filed within that two-year period.
  • For 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 judgments.

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

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

A petition to seal/expunge a case in Iowa 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. 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.

Locating State Prisoners in Iowa (Federal Prisoners Too)

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

Completing an IA Warrant Search: How To Find Out if You or Someone Else Has a Warrant in Iowa

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 records in Iowa, but not every law enforcement agency publishes a warrant list. Those who do encourage individuals with outstanding warrants to turn themselves in and take care of the charges.
Using the table of sheriff’s offices listed above, searchers can learn that the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office has an online warrant list, but the Lee County Sheriff’s Department does not.

City Law Enforcement Agencies’ Online Most Wanted List
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.

Background Check Requirements for Job Applicants in Iowa

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. We’ve provided a table to help narrow down the search.

Finding Out Who Is a Registered Sex Offender in Iowa: How To Search the IA Sex Offender Registry

Sex Offender Search Process:

Access the Iowa Department of Public Safety Website: Open the Iowa Department of Public Safety website to access the state sex offender registry.

Read the Disclaimer and Complete the Image Check

    • After clicking the registry link, carefully read the disclaimer.
    • Complete the image check as prompted on the screen.

Submit Your Search: Click the “Submit” button on the screen to proceed with your search.

Choose Your Search Method

      • Enter the person’s first and last name for a name search.
      • Alternatively, enter an address under the “Map Search” tab to view a geographic area.

Review Search Results

The search results will provide detailed information, including:

      • A mugshot of the offender.
      • The sex offender level the person is required to register under.
      • Full name and any aliases.
      • Physical description of the person.
      • Any identifying scars or marks.
      • Last known address.
      • The offense for which the person was convicted.

These details can be compared to arrest records when conducting searches.

Iowa State Laws on Criminal Records & Arrest Records

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 Iowa criminal records.

Ban the Box Status in Iowa

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 under Iowa Public Record Law

The 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.

Child and Dependent Adult Abuse Check

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.

Federal Statutes Protecting Iowa Workers

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 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.

Consent for Official Background Checks

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

Simplified Arrest Record Checks in Iowa

Running arrest record checks in Iowa does not have to be a difficult task, and this free guide 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.


How can I perform an Iowa criminal and arrest record lookup?

To conduct an Iowa criminal and arrest record lookup, you should contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) or use their online resources. The DCI provides access to criminal history records through its website, where you can request a background check or search for specific records.

What information is required to perform a record lookup in Iowa?

To conduct a record lookup, you will typically need the full name and date of birth of the individual you are searching for. Some searches may also require additional identifiers such as a Social Security number to ensure accurate results.

Are Iowa criminal records available to the public?

Yes, Iowa criminal records are generally accessible to the public. However, certain sensitive information, such as juvenile records or sealed records, may have restricted access.

Is there a fee associated with accessing Iowa criminal and arrest records?

Yes, there is usually a fee associated with obtaining Iowa criminal and arrest records. The cost can vary depending on the type of search and the information requested. Be sure to check with the DCI or the specific agency you are using for the most up-to-date fee information.

How long does it take to receive the results of a record lookup in Iowa?

The processing time for Iowa criminal and arrest record lookups can vary. Online searches may provide immediate results, while requesting records through mail or in-person services may take longer, often several days to a few weeks. It’s essential to check with the specific agency for accurate processing time estimates.