What does it mean to get your criminal record “sealed?”

Having your criminal record “sealed” (or “expunged”) is the process of having your criminal record made confidential.  If your record is sealed, the documents will be hidden from public view, but will not actually be destroyed.

However, once you get a conviction sealed, you can deny it ever happened.  For instance, if you’re filling out a job application, and it asks whether you’ve ever been convicted of a felony, you can legally say no if your felony conviction has been sealed.

The process of getting your record sealed:

In Arkansas, the process of getting a criminal conviction sealed is available to most people convicted of a crime. We have successfully helped countless clients get their records sealed and allowed them to pursue dreams which their convictions had placed on hold.

First, we would need to gather some information from you to ensure you qualify to have your record sealed. If you do not qualify, we can let you know if you will likely qualify at some time in the future. Next, assuming you qualify, we draft and file all the necessary paperwork to begin the sealing process. We will serve all the necessary individuals and work with the court to achieve your goals.

We will ensure the prosecutor on your case is properly noticed of the petition to seal your record and if they’re opposed to the records being sealed, they will have to file a “notice of opposition” to the sealing and serve a copy of the notice on your attorney. If that happens, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether the conviction should be sealed. The prosecutor will show up and give reasons why they think it should remain on the books. We will fight for you and ensure the judge hears your side of the story.

Once the hearing is over, the judge will decide whether or not they will seal the record. In most cases, when everything is done properly, the judge will seal the record and allow you to have a fresh start.

What type of convictions can be sealed?

In 2013, Arkansas passed the universal sealing act which allowed many arrests, dismissals and convictions to be sealed. However, nothing much changed about the process until the 2021 legislative session.

In 2021, the most impactful change in the process of sealing records in Arkansas occurred. Prior to the 2021 legislative session, if a person had spent any time in the Arkansas Department of Corrections as a result of their conviction, they could not seal that record. However, in 2021, the language of the statute changed and now, for the first time ever, allows individuals sentenced to prison to seal their records.

If you got convicted of one of the following you can get your conviction sealed:

  • Non-violent Class C and Class D Felonies, Unclassified Felonies, and Class A and B Felonies that fall under the Uniform controlled Substances Act.
  • You can still seal violent felonies that are Class D or Class C Felonies as long at least 5 years have passed since the completion of your sentence. (5 years after you are off probation or parole)
  • A misdemeanor, or possession of a controlled substance, and you fulfilled all of the conditions of your sentence.
  • Overall, most drug crimes and most crimes that do not contain some violent act are sealable in Arkansas.

Do I need to seal my record if my charges were dropped?

  • Yes, If you were arrested and the prosecutor didn’t file the charges against you, you can have the arrest itself sealed.
  • If you got charged and then your charges got dismissed, dropped, or if you were acquitted, you can seal the case so the charges do not show up on your background check. Don’t let prior charges hold you back, this is just one less thing that can stand in your way of the job and life you want.

Are there some convictions that can’t be sealed?

Yes, some convictions can not be sealed, the following are the most common examples of unsealable convictions:

  • A serious, violent, felony;
  • Most sex crimes;
  • Delivering a controlled substance to a minor;
  • Any classy Y felony;
  • Class A or B felonies that aren’t drug offenses;
  • Unclassified felonies if you can be sentenced to more than ten years in prison;
  • Traffic offenses if you have a commercial driver’s license; and

Also, if any of the following apply to you, you can’t get your conviction sealed:

  • You have more than one previous felony conviction;
  • You haven’t yet fulfilled all the conditions of your sentence; or
  • Your case is still open.
  • You were convicted of a DWI or Domestic Battering 3rd Degree and it has been less than 5 years since you completed your sentence.

Come talk to us and get the fresh start you deserve.

If you have a conviction on your record, don’t let filling out a job or loan application scare you. We can do the work for you, we know what is required and how the petitions should be presented. The cost of our services is nothing next to what getting denied a loan or passed by for a job will cost you.

At wh Law | We Help, we know how scary this stuff can be, and we don’t want you living in fear anymore. Give us a call today, and we’ll get started putting your past behind you and giving you the fresh start you deserve.