In Iowa, the most common method for expunging a criminal case is with a deferred judgment.
A deferred judgment is a sentencing option that a defendant enters into with the court. If the defendant successfully completes a period of probation, the court will expunge the file and the defendant will never be convicted of the offense. If the defendant fails probation, they are subject to a permanent conviction and jail time.
Deferred judgments are available for almost all criminal offenses, from simple misdemeanors to felonies. However, certain crimes are not eligible for deferment, such as forcible felonies, several types of OWI offenses, and traffic tickets.
The biggest problem with looking to expunge a case with a deferred judgment is that it has to be agreed upon prior to conviction. You cannot go back in time and get a deferred judgment to expunge an old case. Therefore, it is very important to discuss this option before a case is resolved.
There are rare cases where a deferred judgment is left “dangling.” This would be where the term of deferment has passed, but the parties took no action to finalize the case. This is seen more often in simple misdemeanors where the Department of Corrections is not monitoring the case. In those cases, there may be something our firm can do to help you out, by picking up that dangling file and bringing it back to the courts attention. Otherwise, expungement with a deferred judgment is something we can only help you out with prior to sentencing.