Most states allow individuals under limited circumstances to have arrest or conviction records removed or cleared from their public record in a legal process called expungement or record sealing, though most states do not differentiate between the two terms. When granted, an order is sent to various law enforcement databases directing that your record not appear on any standard criminal background check.
The legal implication of an expungement is that it allows you to answer truthfully on private employment and rental housing applications, travel visas, and school applications, among other situations, that you have never been arrested or convicted of the crime that is now expunged or under seal.
For public employment applications; professional licenses; gun permit applications; and seeking a job with law enforcement, the courts, or with the US military you still must disclose your arrest and conviction record when requested. These agencies may or may not consider that your record was expunged. Also, the courts or justice system will unseal your records if you are charged with a subsequent criminal offense, which may enhance your charges or eventual sentence.
What Is Expungement or Sealing?
For the most part, expungement or record sealing does not result in the eradication of your arrest or conviction records, but in some cases your DNA or fingerprint records are actually removed from all criminal databases.
In many states, record sealing applies to juvenile records only. When you turn 21, your juvenile records are automatically sealed in most states so long as you have no pending criminal proceedings. In other states, you may have to petition the court to seal your juvenile record after you reach a certain age but you may have to prove that you have had no subsequent convictions.
Are You Eligible?
In Wyoming, it is easier to expunge your juvenile records if your offense was a misdemeanor or ordinance violation. Juvenile crimes involving sexual abuse or any other type of violence are ineligible for sealing or expungement. If after the age of 21, you have no felony convictions, you can petition the court to expunge your records.
As an adult, you can expunge your arrest record if you were not convicted of the offense, including pleading guilty to any lesser or different charge arising from the same incident, or if your charges were dismissed or never filed. You have to wait 180 days after your arrest or from the date the charges were dismissed before you can file an expungement petition.
Only the misdemeanor offenses of simple assault, battery, reckless endangering, and breach of the peace may be expunged. You have to wait five years after your sentence has expired and you have not pleaded guilty to any other ineligible misdemeanor offense.
For certain nonviolent felony convictions which did not involve sexual assault, children as victims, abuse, fraud, manufacture of illegal substances, intoxicated driving, or perjury, you have to wait 10 years from the time your sentence was completed. You must also have had no other felony convictions.
For ineligible misdemeanor or felony offenses, you might seek a pardon or court order restoring your rights as long as your offense does not pertain to a sex crime, a crime where children were victims, or treason. For a pardon, you typically must wait 10 years after completion of your sentence or have served at least that time in prison, while restoration of rights does not require any particular waiting period.
Pardons are granted by executive order, although either method is rarely granted.
Speak to an Expungement and Record Sealing Attorney
Wyoming's expungement laws only apply in limited circumstances, but you should speak to an expungement and record sealing lawyer in Wyoming to determine your eligibility and legal options.