This is the next post in my series on how to defend against a first offense in Little Rock, Arkansas. My last article discussed the consequences of being convicted of your first offense. It is important to remember that convictions for felonies and misdemeanors typically stay on your record for life. There is a possibility for your record to be sealed, but it depends on the circumstances of your situation and the severity of the crime. It will also ultimately be left up to the sentencing judge to decide whether to seal or expunge your record. An experienced attorney can assist in ensuring that your case is presented to the Court correctly. In this article I will discuss how to seal your record after a first offense in our state. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.
Arkansas residents may be able to seal a first offense misdemeanor relatively early under the First Offender Act
The terms “sealing” and “expunging” are sometimes used interchangeably when discussing criminal records. It is important, however, to understand the difference. Arkansas allows the sealing of records, which means that the record will be kept confidential and will not show up when a background check is conducted. This means that it will not come up when a potential employer or landlord conducts a background check before transacting with you. However, it does mean that police officers, prosecutors, and judges will be able to see your prior criminal record if you are accused of, or charged with, another crime. This is different from an “expungement,” which would result in the physical record being destroyed and scrubbed from all government databases. When a state allows a record to be expunged, then no entity, including law enforcement, may access it.
Many residents of our state may seal a misdemeanor from their record, once their sentence has been completed, under the First Offender Act. This is a law that allows many offenses to be sealed without a waiting period. It does not apply to sex offenses, misdemeanors explicitly excluded under the act, or felonies. For offenses not falling within the First Offender Act, one must wait a requisite waiting period, after the completion of their sentence, to apply for the sealing of their record. Also, many felony convictions may not be sealed at any time. The variances in whether or not a record can be sealed means that you should contact an attorney to assist you in understanding whether you can clear a first offense from your record.
It is important to consult with an experienced Arkansas attorney when attempting to seal or expunge a criminal record
There are several steps that must be taken before sealing or expunging a criminal conviction on your record. The first step is to file a petition to seal or expunge your record with the court. Your petition must list the details of your conviction and the fulfillment of any rehabilitation requirements. It is important to note that the court may not seal a felony conviction without a hearing, even if the prosecutor does not oppose the sealing. However, a misdemeanor may be sealed without a hearing. If the court grants your request to seal your record, a judge will sign the order and file it with the clerk of the court. However, if any of the paperwork is completed wrong, you may need to start the process over from the beginning. To avoid this from happening, you should retain an experienced criminal attorney to assist you with the process.
It is also crucial to consult with an attorney immediately if you are seeking to seal or expunge your record. The process should be started as soon as you are eligible for sealing or expunging your history. It takes time to complete the entire process and receive a final decision from the court. If you must look for a new job or housing, you will want to ensure your record is clean. Contact our office today if you require assistance with sealing or expunging an Arkansas record. Our Little Rock firm has extensive experience in handling such matters and we are ready to assist you. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.