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Under The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, any person has the right to request access to public records: criminal records, arrests & warrants, inmate records, vital records & more.

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Accessing Iowa Criminal Records

Iowa criminal records are an assimilation of information that comes from different sources. This includes the criminal records repositories that are maintained by the state executive, the judicial records that are maintained by the state courts and certain information from commercial vendors as well. All these sources taken together form a comprehensive list of criminal records within Iowa. Therefore, a more detailed look through each of the sources is definitely in order.

The Executive Branch Criminal Repositories

Iowa, like every other state in the United States, has records which are submitted by the various state departments such as the state police and other law enforcement agencies. These records contain details about arrests and various charges for which a person may have been apprehended. These records may also contain detailed information including photographs, personal details and even fingerprints of the accused. The information is kept in an electronic database which is managed and updated by a section of the state executive branch of the government.


In the state of Iowa, such records are handled by the Department of Criminal investigation, a branch of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Their official website is located at The particular arm of the DCI which deals with the criminal records is the Criminal History Dissemination Unit at Additionally, for sex offender information, there is the Sex offender Registry and Information Unit which can be found on the Internet at

Court Records

Court records contain detailed information about criminal cases that have come before the courts. Information in these records includes the charges that have been brought, case details, details of the accused, the motions or petitions filed and the final status of the cases. Court records have been available for viewing for a long while. However, with the digitalization of these records along with assimilation of statewide court records, it has become far more convenient to obtain specific criminal records now.


Earlier, when searching for court records, it would be difficult for the person to know the specific court under which the case was filed. Now, with a single electronic information system, that problem has disappeared and people can easily search for the relevant records from one single location. In Iowa, the Iowa courts make this information available through the website.


Commercial Information Vendors

The third and final source of criminal record information is something which is generally not considered. There are lots of private investigative agencies which perform background checks. There is valuable information to be had from them if anyone needs to find out more about criminal records. Such companies often allow public access to their voluminous records for a certain fee.



Miscellaneous Sources


There are other sources which contain criminal records as well. However, since some of this information may be mirrored in the databases of the major sources, these have been grouped under the miscellaneous category. Some of these sources in Iowa include:

Iowa Department of Corrections- Contains details of the people currently imprisoned in the state and those who are on parole or probation. Since people who are in prison have been through the state authorities or the courts, their information may be found in the court records and/or executive repositories as well. The Department of Corrections can be reached at

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Iowa- The U.S. Attorney’s offices in the northern and southern districts of Iowa have a witness assistance program which notifies victims and witnesses of their rights and relevant information. Their website is at


Categories of Criminal Records Available


Iowa criminal records can come from many different categories. Some of the major categories that form parts of the Iowa criminal records are as follows:

* Sex offender records- These records contain details of all registered sex offenders in the state and their last known whereabouts. Since such offenders can often have a high repeat offense risk, their whereabouts are considered crucial information.

* Prisoner records- These contain records of people who are serving time in the various correctional facilities in the state due to various convictions. They also contain details about people out on probation or parole.

* Trial court records- These records contain case and judgment details from cases which pass through the various trial courts.

* Appellate court records- Contain records from various appellate courts in the state mainly concerning the various appeals filed and their outcomes

* Wanted/missing person records- These records contain details on the people wanted or missing in the state. Amber alerts for missing persons form a part of these records.

* Records from juvenile courts and facilities- These records contain details of the crimes committed by minors in the state.


Obtaining Iowa Criminal Records


The ways to obtain criminal records in Iowa depend on the source from which you wish to obtain the records. For obtaining the records published by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, you can go to their website and navigate to the criminal history dissemination page. From there, record checks can be initiated.

The Division of Criminal Information (DCI) can also be contacted directly at the DPS State Office Building in Des Moines, Iowa at (515) 725-6066. A request for records needs to be made on a form that is available on the DCI website. Along with this, a separate form for payment processing must be attached. For a mail in/mail back request, the charge is $13.00 per surname and for a fax-in/fax back request, the charges stand at $15.00 per surname. The regular check is based on name and date of birth. However, if no fingerprint information is involved, accurate results can be expected but not absolutely guaranteed.

You can call the official number, (515) 725-6066, for the forms or download them online in word document or PDF format. Response time usually depends on the availability of staff in the department. Presently, mail back requests can take up to three weeks whereas fax back requests can take up to four days. It may be noted that only credit and debit card payment is accepted for fax back requests

For obtaining records from the various courts in Iowa, it is best to visit the official website From here you can search a centralized assimilation of the various court records in the state. While free users can browse through certain records, not all of the records can be viewed without paying a fee.

In order to view and search a comprehensive list of Iowa criminal records, it is necessary to register on the website. Registration is one-time and comes with a fee. The fee charged is $25.00 per month. Once registered, you can search case details of cases which have already been closed in the “Case Search” section. The “Advanced Case Search” section contains up-to-the-minute updates on cases which are presently being heard. The updates reflected on the site are generally provided by the Clerk of Court. However, to initiate an advanced search, the county in which the case is being heard must be specified.

For obtaining data from sources which are not official, the choices are manifold. The first step is searching for Iowa criminal records on any popular search engine on the Internet. Results which come up usually include a mixture of official and popular private sites. Choosing a trustworthy source is recommended in order to get access to comprehensive Iowa criminal records information.

Private sites generally charge a small fee which in certain cases might be waived altogether. Payment can easily be made online through any popular payment method. Once relevant payment has been made, searches for criminal records can be initiated. The abundance of sources from where Iowa criminal records are available makes it simple to perform any background checks or keep track of criminals who may be present in a particular area.


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