Expungement is a court-ordered process where the legal record of an arrest or criminal conviction is removed from the eyes of the law, but not destroyed. Arrest or conviction records are sealed and therefore treated as confidential material. In Arkansas, when a person meets the requirements to have a record expunged, his or her record becomes confidential, and the matter is treated as if the crime never happened.
What can be expunged?
If any of these offenses occurred, you might be eligible for expungement of records:
- If you are a first-time offender, are charged with a driving offense or a controlled substance offense, you may be eligible for expungement if any probation is fully complete.
- Pardoned minors and non-violent felonies committed under 18 years of age may be eligible.
- If you were arrested but not charged, the record may be sealed.
- You were charged and arrested, but the charges were dismissed, or if you were acquitted or the charges were declared nolle prosequi.
- If the offense involved a crime against a minor or one resulting in death or severe injury, if you were pardoned, except sexual offenses, offenses against minors or crimes resulting in death or severe injury, you may also be able to have your records sealed if you were pardoned of the crime. This does not apply sexual offenses.
What CANNOT be expunged?
If any of these offenses occurred, you may NOT be eligible for expungement of records, but you should consult a lawyer to be sure:
- More than one convicted felony
- Received previous expungements
- Any pending arrests
- You are involved in an open criminal case
- There are outstanding fines that have not paid
- Convicted of a capital offense, such as:
- Murder in the first degree
- Murder in the second degree
- First-degree rape
- Aggravated robbery kidnapping
- Giving controlled substances to minors
- Committed these six acts:
- Child molestation,
- Sexual battery,
- Theft and serious traffic offenses like DUI
- Vehicular homicide or;
- Fleeing the scene of an accident
How can my records be expunged?
Usually, someone must plead guilty or nolo contendere to an offense. Then when being sentences have it allow the ability for expungement combined with meeting all the requirements for expungement to occur. If there are any questions, you should consult an attorney for assistance.
Who can see expunged records?
The list of people who can see your sealed record is minimal. Typically, the people who worked on your case such as you and your attorney can see them. The Arkansas Crime Information Center will have access to your sealed records so they are also available to law enforcement officers and the prosecuting attorney, who may be able to view them if you are charged with another crime. Employers may request to see the sealed records if you are applying for a job in a nursing home, school, daycare or criminal justice agency. If you are convicted of another crime after the expungement, the judge could review your sealed records.
How to file for Expungement
If you are eligible for expungement of your records, you must file a Petition to Seal the records. Arkansas Legal Services can help with this type of petition. The Petition and the Order to Seal must be submitted to the Circuit or District Court in the country where the crime was committed. After the petition is filed, a copy will be sent to the arresting agency and the prosecutor. If they object to the action of expungement, they must file a Notice of Opposition within 30 days of the filing of your Petition with an explanation for the objection. The petition may be granted without a hearing if there is no objection to the request. If an opposition is filed, a hearing date will be set up by the Court. You will appear before a judge who will decide whether your record should be sealed. If the judge grants your Petition, he or she will sign an Order for your records to be sealed. After the order is signed, it must be filed in the Circuit or District Court Clerk’s office.
If you are trying to get something expunged, call George B. Morton with Morton Law at 479-587-9988. Arkansas’s best Criminal Law Experts in the Fayetteville, Springdale, and Washington County areas.