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Expungement and Criminal Records: State-Specific Information

Having a criminal record can create many barriers in life. You have to disclose misdemeanor and felony convictions on most job applications. Even a misdemeanor conviction can prevent you from finding employment. When applying for housing, a criminal background check could bar your approval. Criminal convictions can prevent you from attending college. Convictions can cancel federal student loan eligibility.

An expungement order can open a lot of opportunities for you. Expungement or expunction is the process that allows you to clear your criminal records from public view. While the underlying conviction or arrest doesn't go away, it can help someone convicted of a crime, or charged without a finding of guilt, clean up their record.

Am I Eligible for Expungement?

Eligibility for expungement of records depends on several different factors, including:

  • The amount of time that has passed since the offense
  • The severity of the offense
  • Whether the charges ended in a conviction
  • The applicant's criminal record
  • Age at the time of the offense
  • That all requirements are met, and fees/fines are paid, including court costs
  • The laws of the state

Each states' laws detail different procedures for accessing criminal records and expunging or sealing them. Often, expungement is more likely for juvenile records. Some states may offer automatic expungement for juvenile delinquency adjudications once you reach the age of 18.

More states are legalizing marijuana use or decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana possession. These states have implemented automatic expungement or are allowing for the removal of prior marijuana-related convictions from criminal histories.

If you have an acquittal, a dismissed criminal case, or the court entered a nolle prosequi, you may be eligible to expunge records. Some states do not allow expungement of criminal convictions. Other states don't let traffic offenses or traffic violations be removed. Certain serious offenses, such as violent crimes, sex offenses, and driving under the influence (DUI), are usually not eligible for expunction.

Federal law does not generally allow expungement or sealed records. Typically, federal crimes can only be pardoned by a president.

Expungement Process Overview

There is a waiting period to apply for an expunction or to seal records. The amount of time will vary by state and by the type of offense. You will file paperwork with the jurisdiction where you were charged or arrested and pay a filing fee. For example, if you were in juvenile court, you will apply with the same juvenile court that handled your case.

Often, you will need to appear in court to explain why your records deserve expungement. If the judge grants your petition, the court orders get sent to all criminal justice agencies that might have your records. This includes the FBI and the CIA. Make sure you get a copy of the order. It may take several months to a year before all law enforcement agencies process your court order.

Keep in mind that sealed or expunged records may still exist. Law enforcement agencies may be able to see your criminal records, especially if you get arrested for a new crime. And while a court may expunge your record, some evidence of your arrest and criminal proceedings can still be found online. Some newspapers may publish your arrest, or someone may make social media posts. Those are public records the court cannot erase.

Explore the law in your state to see if you might be eligible for expungement.

Expungement and Criminal Records: State Resources

Below you'll find state-specific information on arrest and criminal records and expungement. These are from sources such as state judiciaries, attorneys general, and state police agencies.

Alabama

Criminal Record Expungement (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency)

Alaska

Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Alaska (Alaska Court Records)

Request to Seal Criminal Justice Information [PDF file] (Alaska Department of Public Safety)

Arizona

Expunging v. Sealing Case Records (Arizona Judicial Branch)

Expunging or Sealing Records (AZ Law Help)

Arkansas

Criminal History (Arkansas Department of Public Safety)

Criminal Record Sealing (Arkansas Law Help)

California

Expungements (California Judicial Branch)

Clean Your Record Index (California Courts Self-Help Center)

Colorado

Criminal Matters (Colorado Judicial Branch)

Expungements and Sealings (University of Colorado Boulder)

Connecticut

Connecticut Law About Criminal Records (Connecticut Judicial Branch)

Clean Slate and Cannabis Erasure (State of Connecticut)

Delaware

Expungement/Pardon of Criminal Record (Delaware Courts)

Expungement of Criminal Records (Delaware Code)

District of Columbia

Sealing Criminal Records (District of Columbia Courts)

Expungement (Rising for Justice)

Florida

Seal and Expunge Process (Florida Department of Law Enforcement)

Expungement (The Florida Bar)

Georgia

File Request to Expunge a Criminal Record (Georgia Bureau of Investigation)

Hawaii

Expungements (Hawaii Attorney General)

Expunging Arrest Records and Sealing Court Records (Hawaii State Judiciary)

Idaho

Criminal History Information (Idaho State Police)

Juvenile Expungement (Idaho Legal Aid Services)

Illinois

Expungement Information (Office of the State Appellate Defender)

Criminal offenses that can be expunged or sealed (Illinois Legal Aid Online)

Indiana

Expungement-Criminal and Non-Conviction (Indiana Legal Help)

Expunge Criminal History (Indiana State Police)

Iowa

Can I Expunge My Adult Criminal Conviction in Iowa? (Iowa Legal Aid)

Kansas

Facts About Expungement in Kansas (Kansas Legal Services)

Expungement - Adult (Kansas Judicial Council)

Expungement - Juvenile (Kansas Judicial Council)

Kentucky

Expungement Certification Process (Kentucky Court of Justice)

Clean Slate Kentucky: Expungement (State of Kentucky)

Louisiana

JAC Expungement Program (Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana)

Maine

Confidentiality & Court Records (Maine Judicial Branch)

What does it mean to have a Juvenile Record in Maine? [PDF] (University of Maine School of Law)

Application for Executive Clemency (Maine.gov)

Maine does not expunge records. Juveniles may have their record sealed under limited circumstances. Adults may apply for a pardon from the governor.

Maryland

Cleaning Up Your Record (Maryland Judiciary)

Expungement [PDF] (Maryland Judiciary)

Massachusetts

Expunge Your Criminal Record (Commonwealth of Massachusetts)

Michigan

Automatic Expungements: Michigan Clean Slate (Michigan Department of the Attorney General)

Do-It-Yourself Expungement (Michigan Legal Help)

Minnesota

Criminal Expungement (Minnesota Judicial Branch)

HelpSealMyRecord.org: Sealing Criminal Records to Enhance Justice (Office of the Minnesota Attorney General)

Mississippi

Economic Justice – Expungement Services (Mississippi Center for Justice)

Expungement Eligibility App (Mississippi Access to Justice)

Missouri

Understanding Missouri Expungement Law (Missouri Legal Services)

Expungement Forms (Missouri Courts)

Montana

Conviction Expungement Process (Montana Department of Justice)

Non-conviction Removal and Sealing (Montana Department of Justice)

Nebraska

Petition to Set Aside a Criminal Conviction (Nebraska Judicial Branch)

Nebraska does not offer expungement.

Nevada

Information on the Sealing of Nevada Criminal History Records (State of Nevada)

Nevada does not offer expungement.

New Hampshire

Criminal Annulment (New Hampshire Legal Aid)

Annulment of Criminal Records (New Hampshire Law Library)

New Jersey

Expunging Your Court Record (New Jersey Courts)

Clearing Your Record Online (Legal Services of New Jersey)

New Mexico

Expungement of Other Criminal Records (Judicial Branch of New Mexico)

Applying Automatic Expungement to Records Involving Cannabis (Judicial Branch of New Mexico)

New York

Sealed Criminal Records (New York State Unified Court System)

What You Need to Know About Marijuana Expungement (The Legal Aid Society)

NY does not offer expungements except for particular marijuana-related convictions.

North Carolina

Expunctions (North Carolina Judicial Branch)

Expungements (North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation)

North Dakota

Expungement of Criminal Record [PDF] (North Dakota Courts)

Sealing Criminal Records [PDF] (North Dakota Courts)

Ohio

Expungements (Common Pleas Court, Cuyahoga County)

Ohio Governor's Expedited Pardon Project (Governor of Ohio)

Oklahoma

Expunging a Criminal Record (Legal Aid Oklahoma)

Pardon Process (Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board)

Oregon

Expungement: Set Aside Criminal or Arrest Record (Oregon Courts)

Virtual Expungement Clinic (Legal Aid Services of Oregon)

Pennsylvania

Criminal Expungement Process (Pennsylvania State Police)

Expungement (Pennsylvania Bar Association)

Rhode Island

Expungements (State of Rhode Island Attorney General)

Expungement and Sealing of Criminal Records Resource Guide (Rhode Island Public Defender)

South Carolina

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Expungement and Pardons in SC Courts (South Carolina Bar)

SC Expungement Guide (South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center)

South Dakota

Expungement Process- Instruction Sheet [PDF] (South Dakota Unified Judicial System)

UJS Pro Se Expungement Forms (South Dakota Legal Self-Help)

Tennessee

Guide to Expungement in Tennessee (Tennessee Courts)

Tennessee Expunction (Tennessee State Government)

Texas

Expunction Prep Guide (Texas Law Help)

Expunctions in Texas [PDF] (State Bar of Texas)

Utah

Expunging Adult Criminal Records (Utah Courts)

Expungements (Utah Department of Public Safety)

Vermont

Expungement-Sealing-Pardon Information (Vermont Criminal Information Center)

Seal or Expunge Your Vermont Criminal Record (Vermont Law Help)

Virginia

Expungements in Virginia (Virginia Poverty Law Center)

Instructions for Petition for Expungement [PDF file] (Virginia Courts)

Washington

Criminal Records (Northwest Justice Project)

Expungement Checklist (Washington State Patrol)

West Virginia

Expungement of Criminal Records (Legal Aid of West Virginia)

Expungement of Criminal Record and Criminal Offences (West Virginia Judiciary)

Wisconsin

Expungement (Clean Slate Milwaukee)

Expunging Court Records (Marathon County, Wisconsin)

Wyoming

Expungements (Equal Justice Wyoming)

Criminal Records Unit (Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation)

Get Expert Legal Help With Expungement and Criminal Records in Your State

Getting your case expunged can have many positive effects on your life. If you want to have your criminal record expunged or your arrest records sealed, now's the time to learn more from a criminal law expert. Only a licensed attorney can give you legal advice about your criminal charges. Start by discussing the facts of your situation with a skilled criminal defense attorney near you to learn more about expungement in your state.

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