Having a criminal record presents significant barriers to anyone seeking middle and high income wage employment, rental housing, government benefits or consumer credit, or who is pursuing a professional license. Public agencies like law enforcement agencies will not accept applicants with criminal records, and you may have to obtain a waiver if you wish to join the military.
In many states, you can petition your state court to have your arrest or criminal conviction expunged, or erased from public access. If you succeed in obtaining an order of expungement, you can lawfully state to anyone or on any application that you have never been arrested or convicted of a crime, and a background check should not reveal any criminal record.
There is an exception if you are applying for a professional license or for law enforcement employment, as you do have to disclose your prior conviction, though you can also note that your records were expunged.
What is Expungement or Sealing?
Expungement is a judicial procedure whereby someone with a criminal record may have his arrest, conviction and sentencing records ordered sealed or ruled inaccessible to the general public. In most cases, a convicted criminal or person who was arrested but never charged or had charges dismissed has to wait for a period of years before applying to the appropriate court for an expungement order. Record sealing is essentially synonymous with expungement except that in Nebraska, it only refers to juvenile records.
Are You Eligible?
Unfortunately, Nebraska only allows expungement of arrest records if your criminal charges were dismissed or the prosecutor declined to file any, or if your charges were dismissed following completion of a diversion program. Nebraska law does not permit expungement or sealing of any record of misdemeanor or felony convictions.
You may also petition the court for expungement of your arrest record if you can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that your arrest was unlawful or from an error by the arresting officer or agency.
You do have a waiting period before applying for an expungement order. If the prosecuting attorney declined to present charges, you must wait one year after the date of arrest. If your charges were dismissed after completion of a diversionary program, your waiting period is two years from the date of your arrest. You must wait three years from the date of arrest if your case was dismissed on motion by the prosecuting attorney or after a hearing that was not the subject of a pending appeal.
If your conviction was reversed, you can petition the court to expunge your DNA record from the state’s DNA database.
Regarding juvenile records, they are sealed as a matter of law in most cases, and no employer may inquire if you have had a juvenile record, and your record should not be accessible following a criminal background check. If the court determines you were not satisfactorily rehabilitated or if you are charged at age 17 with a misdemeanor or infraction possession of marijuana, the court may not seal your record and you will have to apply to the court.
Your only other option regarding your felony or misdemeanor conviction is to apply for a pardon, though a pardon will not expunge or seal your record. A pardon will restore all your civil rights including the right to possess firearms, to hold certain licenses, to be a juror and to hold public office.
For misdemeanor conviction, you must wait three years, and for felonies, your waiting period is 10 years after completion of your sentencing and any conditions imposed, before you can apply for a pardon before the Board of Pardons, which makes the recommendation to the governor.
Consult an Expungement and Record Sealing Attorney in Nebraska
Nebraska’s expungement and record sealing laws are complex and limiting. Explore your options with a Nebraska expungement attorney today.