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Understand Expungement in North Dakota

An expungement and record sealing allows individuals arrested or convicted of certain crimes to have their criminal record wiped clean or eradicated so that a criminal background check will not reveal any evidence of past criminal conduct.

Because of concerns over liability and theft in the workplace and the ease with which criminal records can be accessed, most employers now require criminal background checks to scrutinize for prior criminal activity. Landlords and loan agencies often employ criminal checks to eliminate unwanted renters or debtors who pose too great a risk. By having your record expunged or sealed, you can open the door to increased opportunities for employment, housing and education. Also, it can discard barriers to international travel and obtaining a gun permit in some states.

An expungement does not totally eliminate your record, however. Although your identifying information, including DNA, are removed from North Dakota's laboratory database if the expungement is granted, these records may still be accessed if you are running for public office or applying to a police force or to the U.S. military.

Are You Eligible?

In North Dakota, unfortunately, few criminal offenses may be expunged, including no adult convictions. Your juvenile delinquency record may be expunged 10 years after it has been adjudicated. On attaining the age of 18, you may expunge your record one year later or when you have been released from court supervision.

Your DNA samples and records may be expunged for any dismissed or reversed prosecutions. You may also apply for expungement for a first-time conviction of possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, provided you had no other offenses in the two years since the drug conviction.

Also, if your arrest was ruled to have violated your constitutional rights and you were not subsequently convicted, the court may order the expungement of your arrest record on its own motion.

To request expungement of your DNA records from the state database, your conviction must have been only a misdemeanor, you were not charged with a felony within one year and your case was either dismissed or reversed or you were acquitted.

What Do You Need?

To obtain an expungement, you will need to submit your criminal history information along with your petition. Your history can be accessed through the state's attorney's general office or in the courthouse where your criminal proceedings took place and are recorded.

How Do You Go About Filing?

Once you obtain your complete criminal history, there are some forms for you to file in the court where your conviction or arrest was processed:

  • Affidavit in Support of Motion to Order Expungement of Criminal Record
  • Petition for Expungement of Record in Case of Acquittal and Release
  • Petition for Writ of Mandamus or Mandate to Compel Court to Expunge Record

The Writ of Mandamus is used to compel a governmental body to perform an act, such as an expungement, when an agency or official has neglected or refuses to do so for some reason.

Other Options

Another option if you have a North Dakota criminal conviction ineligible for expungement is to apply for a pardon by filing a request with the Pardon Advisory Board. A pardon is a legal forgiveness and may only be granted by the governor for a North Dakota conviction. If granted, you may lawfully state on any application or under oath that you have never been convicted of that crime.

You must present compelling circumstances or need or that you encountered a substantial problem such as being denied admittance to a professional school. Your chances of being granted a pardon are increased if your offense was not a serious one, though few pardons are granted each year.

Contact a North Dakota Expungement Lawyer

Though expungements and pardons are rarely granted and only in limited circumstances, there are situations where you may be eligible. Contact a North Dakota expungement and record sealing lawyer to see if you qualify.

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