- How do I pay my fine online?
Use the Pay Fines Online link above or go to the Iowa Courts Online case search page. You must have the following information:
- Name of the county in which the fine was imposed or assessed,
- General type of charge (traffic, simple/criminal, or civil infraction), and
- Case or citation number. If you do not know this number you may search using your name.
After you submit this information, the system will search for matching cases. Follow instructions to make your payment.
- If I pay online, do I still need to appear in court?
When you pay a fine online it is a plea of guilty. You only need to appear if the box on the ticket marked "court appearance required" is checked.
- When are fines and fees due?
According to Iowa law, fines and fees are due to the clerk of court 30 days after the date it is assessed by a court order.
- Will I receive confirmation of my payment?
Yes, once the transaction is completed, a confirmation screen will display. Print or make a screenshot of the confirmation screen for your records.
- Why can't I find information about a recent citation or ticket?
Clerk of court offices strive to post information as soon as possible. Because clerks' offices handle large volumes of work, information is not always posted the day a record is filed.
In the case of citations or tickets, it may take a week or longer from the date the citation or ticket is issued to the date it is filed in the clerk of court office. This interval may be longer if a citation is issued on a weekend or holiday. If the information does not appear on this site after 14 days, please contact the clerk of court office in the county where the citation was issued.
- What is court debt? What type of debt is collected by the courts?
Court debt means all fines and fees ordered by the court. According to Iowa law, a judge may order any or all of the following:
- Restitution for victims of crime.
- Fines, penalties, criminal penalty surcharge, and law enforcement initiative surcharge.
- Crime Victim Compensation Fund.
- Court costs, including correctional fees, court-appointed attorney fees, and public defender expenses.
All court debts are paid in the priority order listed above. Pay court debt to the clerk of court in the county where the violation occurred. The Clerk of Court offices are listed on the Court Directory page.
- How will I be contacted if I owe court debt?
When the court assesses the debt, you receive an order. When the debt becomes delinquent, you will receive a notice from the clerk of court in the county where the violation occurred.
Be alert for potential scams, including spam emails falsely claiming to be from the Iowa Judicial Branch or a court official. The Iowa Judicial Branch will never send an email that asks you to send money, give a social security number, direct you to call a certain phone number, or advise you to download a document from within the email.
- Where do I pay my court debt?
Pay your court debt to the clerk of court in the county where the violation occurred. The Clerk of Court offices are listed on the Court Directory page.
- If I am 30 days past due, who do I owe my court debt: the county attorney or the private debt collector?
It depends. You will be notified of your payment options by either the county attorney or the private debt collector when your debt has been assigned.
- If a county attorney has entered into an agreement with State Court Administration and has committed to collecting court debt, then the debt will be assigned to the county attorney when the debt is delinquent.
- If the offense occurred in a county where the county attorney has not committed to collecting, then the debt will be assigned to a private debt collector that is under contract with the judicial branch to collect debt owed to the State of Iowa when the debt is delinquent.
On the map, dark counties indicate county attorneys collect court debt, light counties indicate a private debt collector collects court debt.
Counties where the county attorney collects court debt more than 30 days past due.
- Buena Vista
- Cerro Gordo
- Des Moines
- Palo Alto
- Can a county attorney from another county collect my court debt?
Yes, in the following situations:
- Any county attorney collecting court debt can collect any debt related to a violation of state traffic laws or laws of the road.
- A county attorney from one county can enter an agreement to collect court debt for one or more contiguous counties. In this situation a county attorney other than where the violation occurred may collect the court debt.
Except for these two situations, the county attorney where the violation occurred or a third party debt collector designated by the judicial branch must collect the debt.
- What are the penalties for not paying my court debt?
The legislature has prescribed statutory penalties to encourage you to pay court debt within 30 days after the date assessed.
If your court debt becomes delinquent, you will be unable to renew your motor vehicle registration or driver's license.
For any traffic or traffic related offense, if you have not paid the court debt 30 days after it was assessed by a court order, your driver's license will be suspended by the Department of Transportation. Your driver's license or motor vehicle registration may be suspended until you enter into a payment plan.
Other actions could include withholding your state tax refund being withheld or recovering your lottery winnings.
- Can my state tax refund be withheld if I owe a court debt?
Yes. The Department of Administrative Services recovers debt owed to the State of Iowa, including court debt, using income tax offsets through the Income Tax and Vender Offset Program. If your tax refund is being held due to outstanding court debt, you will receive a notice from the judicial branch.
There are other state and county entities that can withhold owed fees from your state income tax refund.
- My friend only had to pay half his overdue court debt through an amnesty program. Can I do that too?
No. The amnesty program administered by the Iowa Department of Revenue concluded on November 30, 2010. The General Assembly enacted SF2428 (Delinquent Debt Collection Act) in 2008 and SF2383 (Debt Collection Act) in 2010. Both Acts made various changes to the existing debt collection programs and created new programs, including instituting a court debt amnesty program administered by the Iowa Department of Revenue from September 1, 2010, through November 30, 2010. The amnesty program allowed individuals owing court debt to pay only 50% of the fines and fees ordered by the court. No amnesty program has been statutorily enacted since 2010.
- Will I go to jail if I don't pay my court debt?
No. However, a county attorney may file a contempt of court action for failure to pay your court debt.
- Can the court take my lottery winnings if I owe a court debt?
Yes. Anyone with lottery, casino, or racetrack winnings of at least $1,200 is checked before payout to determine if the person has outstanding debt owed to the State of Iowa, including court debt. If debt is owed, the Department of Administrative Services recovers the money through the Income Tax and Vender Offset Program.
- Can I get an extension or payment plan if I cannot pay my fine on the schedule date?
If a fine or fee is not paid within 30 days after the date it is assessed, the court debt is statutorily deemed delinquent. Iowa law does not allow the court to grant orders for extension. In order to avoid delinquency, you can set up a payment plan with the court. Contact the clerk of court office in the county where the violation occurred to inquire about payment plan options. The Clerk of Court offices are listed on the Court Directory page.
- What is the minimum monthly payment in a payment plan?
If a judge sets up a payment plan for you at the time you make a court appearance, the minimum payment is $50. However, if you do not pay the debt within 30 days after the date it is assessed, it is collected by a party outside of the court system and you will need to negotiate the monthly payment with that entity.
- Do I pay interest or additional fees with my payment plan?
If the payment plan is established by a judge with a court order or through the applicable county attorney office, there is no interest involved. However, if a payment plan is established through a private debt collector, there will be a fee up to 25% added to the total debt owed.
Iowa law authorizes the judicial branch to contract with a private debt collector for collection of debt owed to the State of Iowa.
- Do I have rights as a debtor?
Yes. There are federal and state laws that apply to debt collection. You should consult an attorney or an Iowa Legal Aid office for an explanation of your rights.
- Who do I pay for a parking ticket?
A parking ticket is issued by local law enforcement (city or county) and is collected through the city or county clerk office. If you choose to challenge a parking ticket, the court may order fines and fees. Any court debt is payable to the clerk of the district court in the county where the violation occurred.
- Where does my money go?
When you pay your fines, fees, and court costs, the money goes to the general fund of the state of Iowa. The state general fund distributes the monies to various state programs and agencies.
If you pay county sheriff jail fees (room and board fees) and fees for service of process performed by county law enforcement, those monies are distributed to the county.
If the violation involves a city ordinance or law and a judge orders payment of the fines and fees in a court order, these monies are distributed to the city.
- Do you store personal credit card information?
No, the State does not keep the credit card information provided through Iowa Courts Online once a transaction is complete.
- Is Iowa Courts Online secure?
Yes, Iowa Courts Online is secure. Make sure that your system and network are equipped to make a secure transaction.
- My court case shows a negative balance. How do I get a refund?
We have identified a programming error and are working to correct it. Please disregard any negative balance postings.