Keep It Private! Sealing Your Criminal Record

Joe Hoke, Associate Attorney

In 2014, the state of Arkansas enacted new laws clarifying the process by which a person may seal his or her criminal record. By simply filing a petition, any eligible person may request the court to treat his or her criminal record as confidential. Once the court grants the request, the person’s criminal history is deemed to have never happened, and the person may lawfully state to potential employers, family members, and friends as such.

A person’s criminal record may be sealed whether it stems from a misdemeanor or a felony. An example of a misdemeanor that may be sealed is the violation of public intoxication. A person convicted of this violation may petition the court to bury this record of criminal history just sixty (60) days after all time is served and all fines and court costs are paid in full.

An example of a felony conviction that a person may request to be sealed is the violation of receiving stolen property. The law is a bit more stringent for sealing a felony criminal history record, but the process of requesting is essentially the same. A particular difference worth noting is that the person may not make the request until five (5) years have elapsed since completing the sentence.

The statutes require that the petition contain specific language, that it be served on the prosecutor, and specifies various time limits including when a prosecutor can object and a hearing may be scheduled. Most importantly, though, the statutes set out the burden of proof the prosecution must present if your petition is contested.

If you would like assistance with sealing your criminal record, contact Sprott, Golden & Bardwell today!  We have three offices to serve you: Harrison, Berryville and Marshall.