Public Records in Iowa

As the name implies, public records are all documented data in any format gathered, maintained by government agencies, and belonging to the State. Every individual has the legal authority to view, duplicate and distribute an open record except if the data is restricted or sealed by the Iowa Open Records Law. Restricted documents in Iowa include;

· Medical records 

· Trade secrets

· Individual information on accepted students, current and past students

· Data on the donors of charitable contributions

· Corrections department information that can jeopardize state security

· Information kept by mediators employed to solve the disputes with government agencies 

· Library records 

· Military confidential records 

· Records on an attorney who represents the State

· Juvenile criminal files 

· Examinations

· Marketing and advertising budgets and strategies for non-profits

· Archaeological and historical ecologically sensitive material locations and information

State access law has 73 exemptions (see Iowa Code Sec. 22.7). The sunshine law tries to guarantee government openness and answerability to the public. The sunshine law is also known as the open meeting and records law. Record custodians have a mandate to respond to all individual requests, whether in person, in writing, by telephone, or electronically. Record custodians are allowed to charge fees for records. Requesters must allow 10-20 days for a record request response to be complete.

Iowa Court Records

Iowa court records archives date as far back as 1827. Iowa considers documents from the courts and its proceedings public; hence anyone in the State has legal backing to peruse and duplicate court documents. If you are interested in getting your hands on any court document, knowing the agency responsible for issuing the data should be your first point of call. The Iowa Justice department provides everyone access to court papers, case files, management, and activities. Interested persons can make requests remotely or in-person by submitting them verbally or writing to the legal custodian of records. Typically in Iowa, the Court Clerks carry the responsibility of ordering and safe keeping court files. However, the caretaker of court papers is unique to a specific courthouse. In-person requestors must identify the court that initially tried the case of interest. Interested individuals can forward their requests to the Court Clerk in the district of the case trial, giving them access to the information they seek. Interested people can check the Iowa District Court directory for information about County Courts. Electronic requests go to the Judicial Branch Communication Director. For further details on available records, requestors can send a mail to [email protected] 

The Iowa Judicial Branch will respond to inquiries for data based on the nature of the information sought and the form of request. Note that access to court records does not come for free; a corresponding charge applies to physical and virtual inquiries. The Judicial Branch charges processing fees based on the human resources and billable hours used to respond to the request. In-person requestors may visit the office of the Supreme Court Clerk at:

Clerk of the Supreme Court

Iowa Judicial Branch Building

1111 East Court Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50319

Call (515) 348-4700

Vital Records in Iowa

Vital records are records of life’s milestones recorded, organized, and disseminated by the State. Such life milestones include the event of births, fatalities, civil union, and divorce. In Iowa, vital records such as birth, marriage, and death records less than 75 years are only available to authorized persons upon request. The community may access older records without meeting the requirement necessary to access vital records. Requestors should be able to provide basic details about the record they seek and present the accepted proof of identification to prove eligibility to access critical information. Such information includes:

· Personal information of the individual listed in the record

· The name and personal data of the requestor

· The requestor’s relationship to the party named in the record of interest

· The date and name of the city the event occurred

· The reason for the request

· The gender and age of the person named on the record

· Father’s name and mother’s maiden name (required for birth certificate only)

· Range of search (state-wide or county limited)

· Proof of ID that proves a direct and tangible interest 

Interested persons are to fill out a vital records application form and a document that shows the direct relationship to the person named on the record. The general public can access older records and thus may not require proof of identification to peruse the database. The Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Health Statistics maintains vital records in the State. Requestors may visit the office with the filled form or a written request signed before a public notary containing sufficient information. Persons inquiring must also present a valid photo ID. Note that you can also obtain critical data via mail by sending a completed vital records form, along with a valid photo ID to:

Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Health Statistics

Lucas State Office Building 1st Floor,

321 East 12th Street,

Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075

Criminal Records in Iowa

Criminal records are commonly known or referred to as rap sheets. They are official documents that give information on a person’s criminal history or malefactor activity within the State. In Iowa, various administrative offices and law enforcement agencies usually gather this information from across the State. The information contained in a criminal record mainly depends on the requestor’s authority. Criminal records in the State of Iowa generally contain information such as:

· The full name and alias of the subject

· Sets of fingerprints, mugshots, and detailed physical descriptions, including unique identifiers such as tattoos, piercings, etc.

· Date of birth

· Race and ethnicity

· Arrest data and pending warrants

· History of conviction and pending dispositions

The Iowa Department of Public Safety(DPS) serves as the central storehouse for criminal records in the State. Through the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa DPS provides information to the public on criminal records in the form of a Criminal Background Report. The Iowa Department of Public Safety website provides DPS contact information to aid your inquiry, including phone numbers and email addresses. You can make an in-person request for a criminal background check to the Division of Criminal Investigation at:

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation

Support Operations Bureau 1st Floor

215 E 7th Street

Des Moines, IA 50319

Fax: 515-725-6080

Walk-in Processing Hours: Monday-Friday; 8 am – 4 pm

Email: [email protected]

The Iowa Sex Offender Registry

A sex offender is an individual that has a sexual offense conviction. Such people who live in a state have a legal obligation to register with the law enforcement agency in that State. All information regarding registered sex offenders is published on city and county complied sex offender registries to protect the public. The authorities constantly update these registries for the accuracy of information. Interested persons can access the Iowa Sex Offender Registry online and search for relevant information on offenders. In case you want to make an inquiry in person about sex offenders and the registry, you can visit the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at:

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation

Department of Public Safety Building

215 East 7th Street 

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Voice: (515) 725-6050

Fax: (515) 725-6040

In conclusion

The State of Iowa is an open record state. Whatever record a person wants to obtain, they can do so by approaching the appropriate record holder. Suppose you encounter any difficulties or do not know where or how to begin your search. In that case, you can start at the Iowa State University Library to access archives.