A felony is much worse than a misdemeanor for many reasons. You lose many rights as a felon and a felony conviction will be an automatic strike for many employers. Much that happens in plea negotiations relates to attempts to avoid a felony conviction for people so that they will retain many of their rights and be more employable. Why is it, then, that employers and others believe someone has a felony conviction when they in fact do not? The problem that arises is related to ICIS or the Iowa Court Information System.
All cases are assigned a case number. The first letters of the "number" identify the type of case it is. So, if the crime is initially charged as a felony, it will have a number FECR0000 (FE for felony and CR fro criminal). If it is an aggravated misdemeanor it will have an AGCR number, SRCR for serious misdemeanors and SMCR for simple misdemeanors.
If a case begins as a felony but is charged as a misdemeanor or the conviction is ultimately a misdemeanor, the FECR label will remain. Persons searching the ICIS looking for criminal history information often mistakenly assume people have felony convictions when they see an FECR number. Employers and others who rely on ICIS need to be informed that the FECR label does not always accurately depict a felony conviction or a felony at all. Instead, they need to look at the disposition of the case, also available through ICIS, to determine what conviction, if any, occurred.