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Arrest Record Sealing
(How to Expunge & Pardon Your Criminal Record)

If you have ever been arrested, whether or not you were convicted of a crime, you will have an arrest record for the rest of your life unless you can get that record sealed or expunged.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is an Arrest Record?

When a person is taken into police custody due to a criminal act, he or she is under arrest. The arrest can follow directly after an alleged crime or follow an investigation.

An arrest record details a person’s criminal history. The report details the process and information regarding the nature of the offense, the details of police interrogation to criminal charges, and court dates.

When Can an Arrest Record be Sealed?

If you had an arrest but were not convicted, you may be able to seal your record. This is possible in the following situations:

  • You were arrested but no charges were filed;
  • You were arrested and charged, but the charges were dismissed;
  • You completed diversion and the charges were dismissed;
  • You completed “DEJ” (deferred entry of judgment) and the charges were dismissed;
  • You went to trial and were found not guilty.

You may request that a court seal your arrest records or criminal records. If your request is granted, the records will no longer be available to the public. However, certain government agencies will still be able to see your sealed record.

How Can I Seal My Arrest Record?

To have your arrest record sealed, you must file a petition in the jurisdiction where you were arrested. The petition must then be served to both the law enforcement agency that made the arrest and the prosecuting attorney. You will need to work with a criminal defense attorney throughout the petition process in order for it to be successfully completed.

What is the Difference Between Record Sealing and Expungement?

The main difference between expunging an individual's criminal record and sealing it is that a sealed record still “exists”, while expungement results in the deletion of any record that an arrest or criminal charge ever occurred. For example, it is standard procedure to seal records of juvenile criminal proceedings once the person turns 18, but those records are still accessible with a court order.

What is a Pardon, and How is it Different from Expungement?

A pardon is an official issuance of forgiveness for a person who has been convicted of a crime. Unlike an expungement, a pardon does not erase or seal the conviction but will restore certain rights that were lost as a result of the conviction.

While the pardon does not hide the criminal record, it does serve as a useful tool when trying to obtain employment, licenses, housing, etc., as having a pardon indicates that you have been legally forgiven for the crime by the highest governmental authority in the state.

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