There are multiple reasons as to why you might want to get your criminal record sealed. Having an arrest record can cause downstream consequences for you and can create a stigma that follows you around from place-to-place.
For example, many times employers will ask a job applicant if they’ve ever been arrested for a criminal record or a landlord may ask an apartment seeker if they’ve ever been convicted for a crime.
If yo’re finding it difficult to get a job, find a place to live, or secure a loan due to a previous conviction, then sealing your record may possibly provide you with the solution.
What Does Getting a Criminal Record Sealed Mean?
While the definition varies from state-to-state, the classic meaning of having an offense sealed means that it is not accessible to the public. This means that if you’re looking to secure a loan, rent an apartment or get a job, the people who are doing a background check on you will not be able to see these records. Furthermore, you typically can deny that the events on your record ever existed so that when you fill out an application and it asks if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, you can answer ‘no’ without having to worry about being caught in a lie. With that said, sealing a record is different then expunging it, so the record will still typically exist, but it’s typically only available to government entities and a court order is necessary to unseal those records.
Basic Requirements For Getting a Juvenile Criminal Record Sealed
For your juvenile record to be sealed, you usually must be at least 18 when you petition for sealing a criminal record, or five years must have elapsed since you served your penalty or probation term. You usually will have to have had only one offense or a few minor offenses and you cannot have committed any other criminal acts between the time of your juvenile offense or offenses and the time you petition to seal the record. Traffic and parking violations can usually not be sealed.
Basic Requirements For Getting an Adult Criminal Record Sealed
It may be possible to get your adult criminal record sealed if you have only one conviction, or multiple convictions stemming from the same offense which was your first offense. Usually first and second degree felonies and any crimes involving children or the elderly as well as any sex or drug offenses cannot be sealed, although a felony drug offense can sometimes be reduced to a misdemeanor. There will typically be a waiting period of several years before you can apply to seal your record, a period which will be longer for a felony than for a misdemeanor.
Additional Details For Getting an Offense Sealed
The requirements listed above are some basic eligibility requirements, but whether or not one qualifies to seal a record or have a record expunged will be different in each state. Some states will only expunge or seal dismissals or not guilty verdicts, while others may have broader interpretations of which felonies can be sealed. Click here to get specific details about getting an offense sealed in your state.
If you aren’t sure whether your criminal records are public, you can use our criminal background search to see what offenses, if any, are available to the public.