Should you be arrested, even if the charges are dropped, the consequences can have a negative affect on your life. Think of expungement as a chance at a new beginning. From employment to housing and financial loans, expungement helps.
Expungement or record sealing seals your criminal record, and the information is kept as confidential. In Arkansas, there are no true expungements (meaning that the record is completely destroyed). Criminal records are closed, sealed and therefore expunged.
Expungement is not available for everyone. In Arkansas, you are eligible for expungement:
- If you are a first-time offender, are charged with a driving offense or a controlled substance offense, are eligible for expungement if probation is fully complete.
- Pardoned minors and non-violent felonies committed under 18 years of age may be eligible as well.
- You were arrested but not charged.
- You were charged and arrested, but the charges were dismissed, acquitted or declared nolle prosequi.
- If you were pardoned, with the exception of sexual offenses, offenses against minors or offenses resulting in death or serious injury, you may also be able to have your records sealed.
You are not eligible for expungement if:
- You have more than one felony conviction.
- You have had previous expungements.
- You have pending arrests.
- You still have an open case.
- You have not paid all associated fines.
- You were convicted of a capital offense like murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, first degree rape, aggravated robbery kidnapping and giving controlled substances to minors.
- You committed acts like child molestation, prostitution, sexual battery, theft and serious traffic offenses like DUI, vehicular homicide or fleeing the scene of an accident.
To be sure of your eligibility status, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney.
It may be a good idea to speak with an attorney when seeking expungement; however, the process can be done on your own. The forms to file a petition to seal your records are available at the Arkansas Crime Information Center. Steps for expungement are:
- Fill out the petition to seal records in the circuit or district where the crime was committed. You will need to provide details of the offense, the case information and your fulfillment of any requirements of rehabilitation.
- The prosecutor and arresting agency will be given a copy of the form.
- As long as no one is opposed, the court may grant the petition without a hearing.
- If you go to hearing, the judge will determine if the record should be sealed and sign the order.
- The order will be filed with the clerk of the court.
Expungement will seal your records, so in most cases only you or your lawyer will have access to them. In some cases, your records may be shared. For example, if you’re looking for a job as a teacher, day care worker, nursing home worker or in the criminal justice field, the Arkansas Crime Information Center may be granted access to the sealed records.
Why Contact a Lawyer
Any legal information is not a substitute for advice from an attorney. As laws are changing frequently, you may wish to speak to a criminal attorney for best results.