What is a Misdemeanor Conviction?
Although a misdemeanor is not considered as serious a crime as a felony, a charge should still be taken seriously. Whether you've been accused of an aggravated, serious, or simple misdemeanor, you could be facing some harsh consequences. For instance, a simple misdemeanor can result in a fine of up to $625 and jail time of up to 30 days. An aggravated misdemeanor can result in a maximum $6,250 fine and a jail term not to exceed 2 years.
However, incarceration and fines are not the only consequences you can face because of a misdemeanor conviction. The information becomes a part of your criminal record, which is searchable by the public. That means your employer, landlord, community members, and friends could all see past mistakes that you've learned and grown from. Sadly, such access to your criminal history can affect various aspects of your life, such as your ability to get a job or apartment.
The most difficult part of this is that the information stays on your record for the rest of your life. Thus, you'll be feeling the impacts even long after you've served your time.
How to Get Out of a Misdemeanor
While it's true that a misdemeanor conviction can stay with you forever, it is also possible for it to be erased from your record. But this does not happen automatically after you've paid your fines and served your jail sentence. You must file a petition for an expungement to get the information removed.
In Iowa, though, only certain offenses can be cleared from your record.
Can Misdemeanors be Expunged?
Iowa has two expungement laws that allow you to seek expungement:
- Iowa Code 901C.2 provides that an offense can be expunged when:
- The case resulted in an acquittal or dismissal,
- All financial obligations related to the case are satisfied,
- At least 180 days passed since the judgment,
- The defendant wasn't found not guilty by reason of insanity, and
- The defendant wasn't found unfit to stand trial
- Under Iowa Code 901C.3, certain misdemeanors can be expunged when:
- The conviction occurred more than 8 years in the past,
- The defendant hasn't been charged with any other offenses,
- The defendant has not received 2 deferred judgments, and
- The defendant satisfied all financial obligations related to the case
Not all misdemeanors are eligible under this law, and a person is only allowed this relief once in their lifetime.
Fight Your Misdemeanor Charge
Although expungement is a legal option for seeking relief from a misdemeanor conviction, it does not entirely destroy the information. Certain agencies can still access it if they have a lawful reason to do so. Additionally, if you're charged with another offense, the expunged record may still count as a previous conviction.
The most effective way to avoid the long-term ramifications of a misdemeanor conviction is to fight the charge from the start. To do that effectively, you need aggressive defense from an attorney who knows how to get results.
At Branstad & Olson, our Des Moines lawyers have over 65 years of combined experience and have obtained favorable outcomes for past clients. We're here to help you throughout your case. Call us at (515) 329-3100 or contact us online today.