On May 1, 2015 Governor Branstad signed Senate Bill 385. “An Act Relating to the Expungement of Not-Guilty Verdicts and Dismissed Criminal-Charge Records…” into law. This is a big step for Iowa which had no general expungement law. This law comes in response to a pair of Iowa Supreme Court cases from July of 2011 which held that absent an act of the legislature the courts are powerless to expunge information from state databases. Four years later Iowa lawmakers finally crafted and, after some tinkering between the house and senate, unanimously agreed to Senate File 385.
The law only provides for expungement of acquitted or dismissed charges. With a few minor exceptions (public intoxication, minor in possession, etc.) charges a person pleads guilty to are still only expungeable if a deferred judgment is granted by the court. Any charge on which a judgment of conviction is entered is never expungeable.
Additionally, under the new law codified as Iowa Code Chapter 901C, the following circumstances must occur before a person may have their record expunged:
1. All charges in the case must have been dismissed or the defendant acquitted
2. All costs, fees and other financial obligations must be paid
3. 180 days must have passed from acquittal or dismissal
4. The not guilty verdict was not by reason of insanity
5. The defendant was not found incompetent to stand trial
If those conditions are satisfied and no party objects, the court is required to expunge the record. The practical effect of an expungement is a topic for another post and is unfortunately, not as great as one might hope. However, it is better than nothing. If you have a previously dismissed charge or were acquitted and you would like to expunge your record, call us, Stowers & Sarcone at 515.224.7446.