A criminal conviction on your record is public information that can follow you for the rest of your life. A criminal record can make it harder to find a job, obtain housing, secure credit or qualify for certain government benefits. Having your record sealed means it becomes confidential and is accessible by third parties only in limited situations. You generally need not disclose the conviction when seeking employment or other benefits, treating it essentially as if it never existed.
Not all criminal records are eligible to be sealed. Arkansas law currently excludes from sealing any conviction of a felony that carries a minimum sentence of five years or more. In addition, crimes such as manslaughter, offenses involving sex or violence and specific felony traffic offenses are ineligible.
However, you may be able to have your record sealed even if you spent time in prison. In 2021, Arkansas passed an amendment to the Comprehensive Record Sealing Act, which removed the automatic exclusion that had existed for individuals who have been incarcerated.
However, even with this recent legislative revision, some situations may still block your ability to get your record sealed, such as if your case is still pending final adjudication or if you have outstanding probation or restitution fees. It is best to engage the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney who can help you successfully navigate the process and answer any questions.
The process for having your criminal record sealed starts with filing a petition in the circuit or district court where the crime and/or conviction occurred. Next, the court will notify the prosecutor of the request. If the prosecutor raises objections, a hearing will be scheduled to give you an opportunity to rebut them. If there is no objection, the court will likely grant the petition once all procedural requirements are met.
Note that although having your criminal record sealed will generally block access to it, some employers and government officials may still be able to view your record in limited, defined circumstances.
The James Law Firm can review your case to determine if your criminal record qualifies for sealing and then carry out the procedure. Our Little Rock criminal defense firm offers free consultations. Contact us online or call (501) 375-0900 to meet with one of our attorneys. Hablamos español.