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Frequently Asked Questions

If you are required to register on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry, want to change your registration status, or simply want more information, you may have many questions. Here are frequently asked questions and answers to assist you.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Can I get off the Iowa Sex Offender Registry?

Yes. Regardless of your tier level, term of registration, or restrictions, you can modify your current restrictions, or request to be removed from the Iowa Sex Offender Registry altogether, by submitting an application for modification.

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What is an application for modification, and how do I qualify?

An application for modification is a document you can file with the court to request changes in your current registry requirements, or even removal altogether from the registry. You will have to meet certain requirements before you are eligible for modification. These requirements are:

  • 2 years must have passed since registration started, for tier I offenders;
  • 5 years must have passed since registration started, for tier II and II offenders;
  • You need to have successfully completed all required sex offender treatments;
  • You will need to have a risk assessment performed, approved by the department of corrections, and be classified as low risk to reoffend.
  • You cannot be incarcerated when the application is filed; and
  • If you are under supervision, the director of the district department of corrections must stipulate to the modification; or
  • If you are not under supervision, the district department of corrections must agree to perform the risk assessment.

Click here for more on the requirements of modification.

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Where is the application for modification filed?

You file the application in the county you live in. The application is also provided to the Iowa Registry; the county attorney; and the county attorney of any county you are registered in.

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What happens after the application for modification is filed?

After an application and it’s supporting documentation is filed with the court, the court will review the application, and any response made by the State. If the application and notices are sufficient, and the State has no argument requiring a hearing, it is likely the court will grant the modification request. If a hearing is requested by one of the parties, or the court requires more information, the court may schedule a hearing.

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Will the court schedule a hearing for the modification?

The court is not required to schedule a hearing to grant you a modification. If it requires more information regarding your modification, or if a hearing is requested by you or the State, the court may schedule a hearing. Often a hearing is not necessary, and an application for modification can be handled without an appearance in court.

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What does the Court address regarding my application for modification?

In April of 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court handed down their opinion in Fortune v. Iowa, setting the current framework for Iowa courts to follow in regards to applications for modification. The Iowa Supreme Court found an applicant must first complete several threshold requirements:

  1. You must have successfully completed all sex offender treatment programs required;
  2. You must show that a risk assessment has been completed and you were classified as low risk to reoffend;
  3. You must not be incarcerated when the application is filed;
  4. At least two years must have passed since your registration requirements began, for tier I status, and at least five years for tier II and III status; and
  5. If you are under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, you must obtain a stipulation from the judicial district Department of Correctional Services agreeing to the modification.

When those threshold requirements have been met, the district court may proceed to consider modification. The Iowa Supreme Court laid out the following steps for the district courts to follow:

  1. The district court must determine whether you have met the above gateway requirements of Iowa Code Section 692A.128. If these requirements are not met, that is the end of the matter, and the application will be denied.
  2. The district court should consider the statutory factors, and any other factors that the district court finds relevant to the modification issues.
  3. The district court may hold a hearing, and consider any evidence it deems appropriate.
  4. The district court should consider only those factors that bear on whether the you are at low risk to reoffend, and there is no substantial benefit to public safety in extending your registration requirements.

At Berger Law Firm we will assist you by preparing a supportive brief with your application for modification. We will also work with you to collect and prepare character letters written by your family, friends, and community members in support of your request. Combined with the experience of Peter Berger, and Berger Law Firm, these documents are useful tools for application filings and modification hearings, and greatly assist your modification requests.

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Is Berger Law Firm successful with modifications?

Yes. Peter Berger and Berger Law Firm almost always achieve a successful result filing applications for modifications. Contact Berger Law Firm today for a free consultation, and get an attorney with over 40 years of experience by your side for any of your modification request needs.

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How long am I required to register with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry?

You are required to register for a period of 10 years, unless you were convicted of an aggravated offense, or greater, then you are required to register for life. This registration period begins within 5 business days of your conviction, or the date you are released from jail, prison, or a juvenile placement facility.

It is also important to be aware that any probation or parole violations will start your registration period over again, and any subsequent sex-related convictions will change a 10-year registration period into a lifetime registration period.

Sex offender registration is different than special sentences, which carry their own restrictions and supervision periods.

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What is the difference between special sentence and the sex offender registry?

Specific offenses in the Iowa carry a “special sentence.” If you are given a special sentence, this means that in addition to any other punishment you receive for your conviction, you will begin an additional sentence at the completion of your original sentence, for a period lasting 10-years or for life.

The special sentence functions similar to parole or work release, and is managed by the Iowa Department of Corrections. Special sentence supervision follows many of the rules and regulations as normal parole, even early parole eligibility for both the 10-year and lifetime periods. Certain offenses require a minimum special sentence term, equal to what the period of imprisonment would have been for the underlying offense, before early parole can be granted.

Special sentence is different than the 10-year, or lifetime, registration requirement for the Iowa Registry, which has its own registration, monitoring, and upkeep of information. The process for modifying any registry restrictions, or seeking removal from the registry, is also a different process, and can only be done by submitting an application for modification to the appropriate court.

10-year special sentence:

Any misdemeanor, or class “D” felony under Iowa Code Sections:

Lifetime special sentence:

A class “C” felony, or greater, under Iowa Code Section:

a class “B” felony under Iowa Code Section:

a class “C” felony under Iowa Code Section:

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What is my tier level?

Your tier level is determined by the offense you are required to register for. You need to verify your registry information each year with the Sheriff’s Office based on this level.

  • Tier I verify every year;
  • Tier II verify every six months;
  • Tier III verify every three months.

Click here for tier levels and offenses.

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How do I get registered?

If you are convicted of an offense and required to register, you have 5 days from the date you’re convicted, or out of jail, to go to the Sheriff’s Office. You need to do this in every county you live in, work in, or go to school in.

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What agency registers me?

The Iowa Department of Corrections completes your registration before release from prison. Otherwise, your local Sheriff’s office will handle everything else for the registry.

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What is my “residence” or “primary residence”?

Your residence is where you normally live or sleep, and can include multiple locations.

For the full definition and code section, click here.

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Am I required to register on the Iowa sex offender registry?

After July 1, 1995, if you have a conviction of a qualifying offense, you will need to register yourself with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry.

Click here for a list of qualifying offenses and their tier levels.

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How often do I need to verify my information with the registry?

Your tier level lets you know how many times a year you must update your information with the registry. For tier I, it is once a year; tier II is every 6 months; and tier III is every 3 months. You need to go in-person to the Sheriff’s Office in the county where you live or sleep regularly.

Click here for tier levels and the associated offenses.

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Am required to register if I received a deferred judgment or deferred sentence?

Yes. Deferred judgments and deferred sentences are viewed as convictions by the Iowa Sex Offender Registry.

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If I am a juvenile, do I have to register?

Yes. The Iowa registry requirement is based on the statute, not on age. However, a juvenile court judge may modify or suspend your registration requirement.

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I’m moving in Iowa, what do I need to do for the registry?

If you are on the registry, you need to report any changes in residence within 5 business days. If you move within the same county, report the change in-person at the Sheriff’s Office in that county. If you move to a different county, go to the Sheriff’s Office in both counties within 5 days.

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I’m moving out of Iowa, what do I need to do for the registry?

If you are on the registry, and you plan to move out of Iowa, you need to tell the Sheriff’s Office of the housing change, in-person, within 5 days. You will also need to register with the registering agency in the area you are moving to, if it is required there.

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What happens to my registry information if I move out of Iowa?

If you move out of Iowa and register with another state’s registry, your Iowa information will be removed from the public website once Iowa confirms you are registered in the state you moved to. You will not have to report any more information to the Iowa registry unless you move back, attend school in, or get a job in Iowa.

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I am registered in a state other than Iowa, do I have register in Iowa when I visit?

Yes. If you are staying in Iowa, whether moving permanently, or visiting temporarily, you have 5 days to register with the Sheriff’s Office in the county where you are staying.

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If my conviction is expunged, do I still have to register?

Yes. Even if your conviction information is expunged, you will need to continue to register.

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What is the 2,000-foot residency restriction, and how do I know if it applies to me?

The 2,000-foot residency restriction states that if you are convicted of the following offenses, you may not live within 2,000 feet of any school or day care center.

Aggravated offenses against minors include the following:

  • Sexual abuse in the 1st and 2nd degrees;
  • Sexual abuse in the 3rd degree, except when the other person is 14 or 15 years old, and the offender is 4 or more years older than the other person;
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child; and
  • Any comparable offense to the above, specified or prosecuted in the laws of another jurisdiction including federal, military, or foreign courts.

However, the 2,000-foot rule does not apply, if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are required to serve a sentence at a jail, prison, juvenile facility, or other correctional institution;
  • You are subject to an order of commitment under chapter 229A;
  • You have established a residence prior to July 1, 2002;
  • You have established a residence prior to any newly located school or child care facility being established;
  • You are a minor;
  • You are a ward in a guardianship, and a district judge or associate probate judge grants an exemption from the residency restriction;
  • You are a patient or resident at a health care facility as defined in section 135C.1, or a patient in a hospice program, and a district judge or associate probate judge grants an exemption from the residency restriction.

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What are “Exclusion Zones,” and do they apply to me?

If you are convicted of a registry offense with a minor, then exclusion zones are areas that are off limits to you.

  • Elementary or secondary school property, unless you have written permission from the school administrator, or you are enrolled as a student at the school.
  • Loitering within 300 feet of the property of an elementary or secondary school, unless you are a student there.
  • In any vehicle owned by an elementary or secondary school without the written permission of the school administrator when the vehicle is in use to transport students to school or school-related activities, unless you are enrolled as a student at the school, or it is available as public transportation.
  • Present on the property of a child care facility without the written permission of the facility administrator.
  • Loitering within 300 feet of the property boundary of a child care facility.
  • Present upon the property of a public library without the written permission of the library administrator.
  • Loitering within 300 feet of the property boundary of a public library.
  • Loitering within 300 feet of any place intended primarily for the use of minors including places open to the public such as playgrounds, and swimming pools or beaches when in use by a minor.

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What is “Employment Restricted,” and does it apply to me?

If you are on registry and have a employment restriction, that means you cannot be an employee or loiter at a facility for dependent adults.

If you have an employment restriction, and your conviction involves a minor, then you cannot do the following:

  • Work or volunteer at any state fair or carnival when a minor is present.
  • Work or volunteer at any children’s arcade, or facilities intended primarily for minors, when a minor is present.
  • Work or volunteer at any elementary or secondary school, child care facility, or public library.
  • Work or volunteer at any place primarily for use by minors such as a playground, swimming pool, or sports facility.
  • Work or volunteer at a business in a motor vehicle selling ice cream or other foods primarily to minors.

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What is loitering?

Loitering is staying in a place for a length of time that it would make a person believe that the purpose of your behavior is to become familiar with the location where a potential victim may be found, or commit some other unlawful behavior.

For the full description and code section, click here.

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Can I be around children if I am on the registry?

Yes. If you are on the registry, Iowa law does not prevent you from being around children, with the exceptions of the 2,000-foot residency restriction, exclusion zones, and employment restrictions. However, a parent commits child endangerment if they are aware of your registry status, and allow unsupervised access over their child. This is not an issue if it is also your child, or you are married to the parent of the child.

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Can I use a social networking websites, email, internet chat rooms, or instant messaging?

Yes, however, if you are on the registry, you are required to report all of your internet identifiers (i.e., email addresses and online screen names), to the registry. Also, be aware that specific websites may have their own policies regarding their use by anyone on the registry.

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Are there penalties for not complying with Iowa Sex Offender laws?

Yes. If you fail to comply with the Iowa sex offender laws, you can get an aggravated misdemeanor for a first-time conviction, and a class “D” felony for second and subsequent convictions.

If you are convicted of an offense involving a minor, or a sexually violent offense while in violation of sex offender laws, such as residency and employment restrictions, and exclusion zones, you are guilty of a class “C” felony.

If you are convicted of failing to comply, you can also have an additional 10 years of registration time added.

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If I move to a neighborhood, is everyone notified of my registry status?

No, notifications of this type are not required in Iowa. However, the public can set up email alerts based on watch areas using the Iowa Sex Offender Registry website, and can be notified when anyone on the registry moves into the area.

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