The erasing of police and court documents from public view is known as expungement. Your records will not be physically destroyed; instead, they will be sealed and handled with care.
Many criminal records in Arkansas can be expunged (sealed) if specific standards are met. Find out more about how to seal your criminal record in Arkansas.
In Arkansas, sealing criminal records is possible
Through a court process, Arkansas law allows persons to seal certain adult criminal conviction and non-conviction records. A court petition must be filled out and filed by applicants (provided by the state). If the request is granted, the court will order the records to be kept private and categorized as confidential.
The records, on the other hand, will not be destroyed. They are still available to the courts in future criminal cases, as well as to some government organizations for sensitive job openings.
The degree of the offense (misdemeanor or felony), as well as a few other particular restrictions, determine eligibility and procedures for sealing conviction records in Arkansas. In the case of non-conviction records, the outcome is usually determined by how the case was resolved.
Misdemeanor Convictions in Arkansas are being sealed
Misdemeanors in Arkansas can be sealed when a person completes their sentence and, in some cases, waits a certain amount of time.
Completion of a Sentence
Most misdemeanor convictions can be sealed after the person has served their sentence. In addition to meeting the terms of jail, probation, and any other requirements, such as the reinstatement of a driver’s license or other monetary duties, the fulfillment of a sentence necessitates the full payment of restitution, fines, and court expenses.
The majority of offenses are eligible for sealing right away. After a criminal completes their sentence, some of them require a five-year waiting period. These are some of them:
- homicide committed with carelessness (Class A misdemeanor)
- public sexual indecency third-degree battery indecent exposure
- sexual assault in the fourth degree
- Driving or boating while inebriated, as well as a third-degree domestic battery.
In Arkansas, felony convictions are being sealed
Although all misdemeanor convictions are eligible for expungement, not every felony conviction is. Furthermore, having more than one prior felony conviction on record (even if sealed) disqualifies a person from sealing any future felony convictions.
What Records Can’t Be Sealed Because They’re Felony?
Under no circumstances can the following criminal convictions’ records be sealed:
- A Class Y felony is a non-drug-related Class A or Class B felony.
- Felony manslaughter, a felony with a possible penalty of 10 years or more, and motor vehicle offences committed by someone with a commercial driver’s license are examples of violent and sexual felonies.
What Kinds of Felonies Qualify for Sealing?
Once the necessary wait period has expired, the court may order the following felony convictions sealed for people who have served their term and have no more than one prior felony conviction on record.
There is no waiting period. The following felony offenses are eligible for sealing after completion of a sentence and other court-ordered requirements:
nonviolent Class C and D felonies,
unclassified felonies punishable by less than ten years in prison,
certain drug convictions (Class A and B felonies),
solicitation, attempt, or conspiracy to commit the listed felonies,
nonviolent offences committed when a person was under the age of eighteen
There will be a five-year delay. A five-year waiting period applies to violent Class C and D offences before an offender can request expungement.
When a case concludes in an acquittal or charges are dropped or dismissed, the law allows non-conviction records to be sealed. In most cases, the judge will order the records to be sealed right away.
The person must wait one year after the court enters the order if the prosecutor filed a motion saying that they will no longer prosecute (called an order nolle prosequi). If the prosecutor fails to file charges within one year of an arrest, the same one-year waiting period applies.
Arkansas has special provisions for sealing records
Other groups, including as victims of human trafficking, first-time felony offenders, and individuals charged with felony narcotics possession, have particular protections under Arkansas law.
Human trafficking victims. A person who has been convicted of prostitution as a result of being a victim of human trafficking can have their record sealed at any time.
Offenders who have committed a felony for the first time. After completing their probation and having the case dismissed, first-time felony offenders who are eligible for and receive a deferred adjudication sentence may have their records sealed.
In Arkansas, how do you seal a criminal record?
An individual must submit a Petition and Order to Seal in the circuit or district court in the county where the crime and conviction happened to request the sealing of records in Arkansas. On its website, the Arkansas Department of Public Safety has petition forms. There is no charge for filing.
The prosecuting attorney must get a copy of the petition in addition to submitting it with the court. Only in circumstances where the prosecutor objects will a hearing be held. The prosecutor has 30 days to file his or her objections.
How long do I have to wait in Arkansas to apply for a Felony Expungement?
If you were convicted of a nonviolent C or D crime, you can file for expungement as soon as your sentence is finished. If you were convicted of a different type of felony, you must wait five years after your conviction and completion of your sentence before applying for a felony expungement in Arkansas.
When all fines, court costs, and restitution, if any, have been paid, all jail and prison time has been served, the person has been fully discharged from probation or parole, any suspended sentence or community service has been completed, and the defendant’s driver’s license has been reinstated, the sentence is considered complete.
If you are still on probation, you can request an early termination, which will begin the 5-year waiting period sooner than if you wait for the probation to expire.
In Arkansas, how many times can you expunge your record? In Arkansas, how many felonies can you expunge?
Under the comprehensive legislation, you can only seal two different sets of felony convictions, or “episodes” (16-90-1406 and etc). For example, if you were stopped by the police in a stolen car and narcotics were discovered, you may face two or three felony charges.
You are later apprehended by the cops. Even if you have up to six felonies, you may be able to expunge or seal all of them when you go to seal them.
However, if you commit a third felony unconnected to the first two, you will not be able to seal the third felony UNDER THIS STATUTE. You might be able to seal it under a different statute, so do some research before attempting to seal these.
Is it possible to have a felony expunged in Arkansas if I served time in prison?
Maybe. If you spent time in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, you are not eligible for expungement under this act, but if you were sentenced to boot camp or the Department of Community Corrections (RPF or RCF as it is colloquially known), you are. An attorney can look up your records to see which prison you were sentenced to if you don’t know.
Is it possible to expunge a felony in Arkansas if there are still charges pending?
Yes, technically, but the judge is most likely to refuse. Even if you seal them under this provision, you can still be cross-examined in court about your past criminal record, and they can still use it against you for enhancements and tell the jury about it.
It’s difficult to say when and under what conditions they can use previous convictions against you in a fresh trial; just because you’ve been convicted before doesn’t imply they can bring it up again. That is a discussion for another day.
If My Petition Is Rejected, What Happens Next?
If the court rejects your petition, you might ask for a hearing. You must appear in court and demonstrate why your charges should be dismissed.
You can appeal to a higher court if the judge denies your request. For instance, from Circuit Court to the Arkansas Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
If you don’t file an appeal, you’ll have to wait a year before you can ask the court to reseal your charges.
Getting Legal Help to Have Your Records Expunged
Cleaning up a criminal record can be difficult, and regulations change frequently. If you have any questions about whether your record qualifies for expungement in Arkansas, or if you need assistance about your specific circumstances, you should speak with an experienced criminal law attorney.
A qualified lawyer will be able to walk you through every step of the procedure. Even if you don’t qualify for expungement right now, keep an eye on the law for changes. Arkansas, like many other jurisdictions, is continuing to broaden the scope of expungement.
1. What does it cost to get a criminal record wiped in Arkansas?
The court that has jurisdiction over your original charges will then charge you a $50 filing fee. This is the Circuit Court for the county in which you were found guilty.
2. What are my options for getting my record wiped for free?
If the court is unable to produce the appropriate papers, contact the public defender or legal aid group in your county. If it doesn’t work, contact your county’s bar association and inquire about pro bono (free) expungement services.
3. In Arkansas, how long do misdemeanors stay on your record?
If the records concern a non-violent misdemeanor in Arkansas, you must wait 60 days after finishing your sentence. You must wait five years and 60 days after completing your sentence if the records entail a violent or sexual misdemeanor. For felony convictions, you must wait five years after finishing probation.
4. In Arkansas, who has access to purged records?
16-90-1413 (Arkansas Statutes, 2018). Only you or your lawyer will have access to your criminal record after it has been sealed.
In Arkansas, eligible individuals can petition the court to have their criminal records sealed if they meet certain criteria. (In Arkansas, the phrase “seal” is used instead of “expunge.”) After a criminal record is sealed, it is as if the crime never happened in legal terms. The person has the legal right to claim that the conduct never happened and that no record of it exists.
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