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Which Felonies Cannot be Expunged?
(Sealing vs Expungement)

An expungement is a legal method by which an individual who has been convicted of a crime seeks to have the record of the conviction sealed or destroyed, making the records non-existent or unavailable to the general public. While many criminal convictions are eligible for expungement, certain felonies are not.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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Which Felonies are Ineligible for Expungement?

Each state has its own rules regarding which felonies can and cannot be expunged. Some states allow for the expungement of most or all felony convictions, while others allow no felonies to be expunged. However, certain felonies are almost never eligible for expungement in any state. These typically include crimes of murder, serious violent crimes, and sex crimes involving children.

Which States Allow Felony Expungement?

No felony conviction can be expunged in the following states:

  • Iowa
  • Arizona
  • Nebraska
  • Texas
  • Montana

In the following states, very few felonies can be expunged:

  • Colorado
  • California
  • Wisconsin

In the following states, most felonies (other than the most severe offenses) can be expunged:

  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Utah
  • Nevada

Are DUIs Eligible for Expungement?

Believe it or not, a DUI conviction is difficult to get erased from your permanent criminal record. Most states have laws stating that anyone convicted of DUI receives a mandatory adjudication of guilt, meaning that once you have been adjudicated guilty (formal conviction of a crime), you are ineligible to seal or expunge your record.

However, depending on your prior criminal history (no prior convictions), you may be eligible to seal or expunge your DUI from your record, eliminate it from public view, and oftentimes deny it ever happened.

Sealing vs Expungement

When an individual's record is sealed, said record is not destroyed but instead no longer accessible to the public, except with a court order. The Clerk of Court stores the court file and erases your name from the electronic court docket system. However, prosecutors and law enforcement officials may still have access to the record.

On the other hand, when a person's criminal record is expunged, the record is either returned to the individual or destroyed. The Clerk of Court will also erase the person’s name from the court’s docket system and store the file. No one has access to an expunged record.

Related Article: What Does Disposition Mean?

Not Eligible for Expungement? Try a Certificate of Rehabilitation

As noted above, there are certain criminal offenses that are ineligible for an expungement, but people who have been convicted of these crimes may still be able to “clean up” their criminal record for the purpose of rehabilitating themselves. Certain states allow felons to petition the court for a certificate of rehabilitation so that they can clean their criminal record.

A certificate of rehabilitation is essentially a court finding that an individual has been rehabilitated since their conviction. The certificate also acts as an automatic application for a Governor’s pardon. In essence, it is a court’s declaration that the person who had been convicted is now a law-abiding citizen.

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