While an expungement removes a criminal offense, record sealing makes it confidential for most purposes. If a criminal record is sealed, you can deny its existence under most circumstances. Arkansas does not allow for the expungement of adult criminal records. Instead, you may seal some arrest records and convictions. Juveniles may expunge their criminal history.
Expungement and Sealing of Juvenile Criminal Records
Juvenile records may be either expunged or sealed. Most juvenile records are automatically sealed. You may also request an expungement after a waiting period.
When juvenile records are sealed, they are not available for public viewing without a court order. However, sealed records may available to schools and law enforcement under certain circumstances. Expunged records are completely removed.
Sealing of Adult Criminal Records
In Arkansas, you may seal certain types of adult felony and misdemeanor charges and convictions. Record sealing is available if you were acquitted, the charges were dismissed, or you have completed probation and paid all related fines and costs.
However, record sealing is not available under certain circumstances. You cannot seal a criminal record if:
- You are a repeat offender or if you have already sealed another criminal record.
- You have a pending arrest, open charges, or unpaid fines.
- You were charged or convicted of a sexual offense involving a minor.
- You were incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
- You were charged or convicted of a Class Y felony.
- You were charged or convicted of a Class A or B felony that is not a drug offense.
- You were charged or convicted of manslaughter.
- You were charged or convicted of an unclassified felony with more than a ten year maximum sentence.
- You were charged or convicted of a violent felony.
If you are ineligible for record sealing, you may apply for a pardon for your conviction. There are waiting periods for certain types of cases. In Arkansas:
- You must wait 60 days after completing your sentence if the records involve a non-violent misdemeanor.
- If the records involve a violent or sexual misdemeanor, you must wait five years and 60 days after completing your sentence.
- You must wait five years after completing probation for felony convictions.
If you need help determining when you may file for record sealing, contact a criminal defense or expungement lawyer.
In order to seal a criminal record, you must file a Petition to Seal with the court. You must also send a copy of your petition to the prosecutor. If the prosecutor does not oppose your petition, you may not need a hearing. Instead, the judge will assess your claim and issue a decision.
Associated Fees and Paperwork
The filing fee for a Petition to Seal is $50. If you can prove financial need, this fee may be waived by filing a forma pauperis. You may also be charged attorney fees if you retain a lawyer.
Implications of a Successful Expungement
If the court grants your petition, you may lawfully state on most job applications or in interviews that the sealed criminal record does not exist. When most employers search your Arkansas criminal record, the charges will not be present.
Sealed records will be disclosed if you apply for a law enforcement job or a job involving minor children or disabled persons. Additionally, if your criminal record prevents you from legal possessing a firearm, a sealed record does not restore this privilege.
Consulting an Attorney
A successful Petition to Seal requires supporting evidence, including information about your rehabilitation and good behavior. An expungement lawyer can help guide you through the record sealing process. Additionally, a lawyer can speak on your behalf during a court hearing and give you the best chance of sealing your record.