Iowa Arrest Records and Warrant Search

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What is an arrest record?

Crime history details maintained by the Department of Public Safety and other allied justice agencies are known as arrest records in Iowa. As the term sets forth, this is information on all arrests in the name of a person along with data on case dispositions. All law enforcement agencies across the state are required by law to submit fingerprints taken after arrests to the DPS.

This is to be followed by details on court disposition received from the office of the county clerk. The Division of Criminal Investigation which is a subset of the DPS receives all information on criminal matters from various county level agencies. Fingerprints are often the first to reach the DCI; these are kept for four years in anticipation of receiving the eventual court disposition in the matter.

However, if the verdict of a tribunal does not reach the agency in this much time or if the case is dismissed, the fingerprints are removed from the DCI database. Information on criminal history is maintained till the offender reaches the age of 80 or till his death. In case of serious criminal infractions, arrest records and information on the active warrants from IA to this person’s name may even be held for longer.

At the moment, the DCI collects information from sheriffs’ departments and other law enforcement agencies on felonies, serious misdemeanors and some petty misdemeanors as well. Typically, you will not find details on minor traffic and civic ordinance related infractions in the repository. However, serious traffic offenses such as driving while intoxicated will be included in the database.

As soon as arrests are made, whether under the provisions of an IA outstanding warrant or otherwise, the fingerprints captured will be sent to the DCI, the county clerk’s office is then in charge of electronically updating the records maintained by the DCI when the verdict gets out in the case.

However, if the DCI does not receive fingerprint cards from the law enforcement agency that has handled a criminal investigation, the crime history file will not be created. Hence, the DCI cannot certify or guarantee that a person has not been convicted or arrested in the state even if you receive a “no records” found response.

Arrest records from Iowa will only include details on criminal infractions that have occurred within the geographical boundaries of the state. The DCI does not keep FBI records, has no access to such information and they don’t maintain details on offenders prosecuted in the federal tribunals that operate in Iowa. To conduct a warrant search, you will need information such as the subject’s first and last name, date of birth and gender. Additional data like middle names and social security number can help resolve issues encountered due to common names and birth dates.

What is an arrest warrant?

Chapter 804 of the Iowa Criminal procedure deals with the issue of arrest warrants, the basis for the release of the order, its execution and the procedure followed after the detention. Pursuant to section 804.1, an active warrant in IA can be issued by the court of the magistrate as long as the probable cause requirement can be met.

The tribunal will conduct an examination of the evidence collected by the police which is presented before the bench in a written form. The magistrate will only issue arrest warrants when it can be concluded from the evidence that there is probable cause to assume that a crime has transpired and that the blame for commissioning the act can be pinned on the accused.

Active warrants are sent to the sheriff’s office upon issue. The deputies of the agency are charged with serving these directives and facilitate arrests; the form of the warrant contains a lot of the information that would be required to positively establish the identity of the accused. Of course, cops are also given additional powers when working in obedience of arrest warrants from IA.

Section 804.2 describes the contents of a warrant; these directives are to be released in the name of a specific person if this sort of detail is known to the magistrate or they can also be issued with the “name unknown” designation if the cops are yet to find more information about the alleged criminal. What this part of the criminal code clarifies is that outstanding warrants are an effective tool to handle cases where very little information is available about the accused.

Since, the release of an active warrant signifies that the case will be kept open till such time that the suspect is taken into custody; these decrees are a good way to ensure that perpetrators do not get away with a crime. Arrest warrants will also contain a description of the offense that the accused is being charged with and contain a mention of the county in which the order was issued, by whom and when. If the offense is bailable, the conditions for release will also generally be mentioned on the warrant.

Arrests can be made under IA outstanding warrants only by peace officers. However, a member of the law enforcement agency can not only summon the assistance of deputies from other police departments but also civilians in making such arrests. Furthermore, law enforcement agents are allowed to use force when effectuating such detentions. However, the use of deadly force is only justifiable in scenarios where the offender cannot be captured by any other means or if not capturing him would endanger the community.

How to search for an inmate in the Iowa Prison System?

There are three ways in which you can look for information on prisoners housed in correctional facilities across Iowa.

The Department of Corrections: The Iowa DOC controls the movement of prisoners through the state penitentiaries. After the sentencing is carried out, if the offense is serious enough to merit incarceration in a state facility, the offender is sent for prisoner profiling. This is a process that can last for a few weeks through which the risk level of the prisoner is determined, so that an appropriate facility with the right level of security can be chosen for him. So, barring municipal jails, you can find out about all prisoners through the provisions offered by the DOC.

To connect with them, you could write to the agency at 510 East 13th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319 or you could visit them in person. The most convenient approach to find inmate records would be to use their online tool at You will be able to initiate the inquiry on the basis of the name of the inmate or the birth date. You will also be allowed to access a range of other information such as the gender of the prisoner, the offense for which he is serving time and the county in which he was sentenced to narrow down the results of your search.

To use the tool, simply input the search criteria in the form along with the reCaptcha code and click on the tab that reads “find”. The results are offered in a tabular form that includes information on all prisoners who match the query criteria. Clicking on the name of the prisoner will get you additional information about him such as full name, date of birth, offender number, age, gender, offense description, county of commitment, status and parole/release date.

The VINE link: This is a phone and online facility offered for Victim Notification. Provided free of charge, you can find out more about it through the VINE website at‎.

Local sheriffs’ departments: Some law enforcement agencies also offer information on prisoners in their county jails and those who have been placed in the state correctional system. Among the departments that do provide such services are:

  • Black Hawk County:
  • Buena Vista County:
  • Dallas County:
  • Dickinson County:
  • Johnson County:

Who can search for arrest records and warrants in IA?

The state follows the open records system under which everybody is allowed to access publicly available information including arrest records and details on outstanding warrants. However, complete crime history is only offered to legislatively authorized applicants. This class includes employees who offer services to seniors, children and mentally or physically disabled people. Schools, day care centers and hospices are also included in this category. The Open Records law is covered by Iowa Code 22.1 to 14.

How to Request Records under the Iowa Public Records Act?

It is possible to request Iowa arrest records and information on active warrants issued in the state through the Division of Criminal Investigation by paying a $15 fee. The inquiry is name based and you will need to use the form given at to furnish information about the subject and the applicant. The duly filled form can be faxed to the agency or you could mail it.

It is also possible to visit the DIC office in person. Typically, it will take 10 days to address such inquiries. However, if you visit them to seek a personal background check, this will be taken care of within a few minutes. For third party inquiries, you will have to wait for the normal processing time. The DIC works out of 215 East 7th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319 and you can call them on 515-725-6066 for additional information on the procedure for warrant searches.

A non-waiver inquiry is also offered online at The charges for the search will remain the same regardless of the mode of communication used. However, you can get instant results through this internet based facility. The personal identifiers required for initiating the search will also be the same and include the name of the subject, date of birth, gender and social security number. At the least, you will need the first and the last name of the person to get the search started.

How Long Does An Arrest Record or Warrant Stay On File In Iowa?

Active warrants issued in Iowa are not covered by the Statute of Limitations. This means that these orders do not go out of effect. In fact, these directives are kept back in the system as outstanding warrants till the offender is not detained at which point the original warrant is returned to the bench that issued it, thus sending information on arrests to the judiciary.

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