Why get a record sealed?
There are several very good reasons to seek to seal a criminal record. When you apply for some jobs, apartments, and licenses they will look at your criminal record. If you have a conviction on your record, it is unlikely that you will be chosen for the job, given the apartment to rent, or allowed to get a license. When you appear as a witness in court, you may be asked about your past criminal record. If you have a conviction, your testimony may be questioned or disregarded.
If your record is sealed, nothing will show up when your record is checked. After sealing is finished, when asked about your past criminal record, you can honestly say that you have none. You can act as if the arrest and conviction never took place.
If my record is sealed, does that mean that no one can find out about my case?
No. Even if your record is sealed, certain individuals may still have access to the information:
- Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and other agencies can look at your sealed record; and
- If you commit another crime, your sealed record can still be used against you in sentencing.
Who can have their conviction sealed?
Only first time offenders may seal a conviction. This means that you cannot have more than one criminal offense on your record. If there were two or more convictions based on the same action, you may have both convictions sealed. For instance, if you were convicted of shoplifting and resisting arrest as a result of the shoplifting, you can get both records sealed. However, if the cases originated on different days and from different events, neither may be sealed. In addition, you cannot have current criminal charges pending against you, or have had a conviction previously sealed. If you were charged and not convicted, you can have the records of your charges sealed.
How long must I wait to apply for a record sealing?
If your crime was a misdemeanor, you must wait one year after your final discharge from probation.
What if I was found not guilty?
You may apply immediately.
What if the charges against me were reduced?
You must wait two years to apply.
Are there misdemeanor convictions which can't be sealed?
Yes. The following cases are not eligible to be sealed:
- sexual imposition
- obscenity involving a minor
- all driver's license violations
- traffic violations (like OVI and moving violations)
- bail forfeitures in traffic cases
- misdemeanors of the first degree where the victim is under 18