If you are placed under arrest and charged with a crime in or near Las Vegas, you must be advised and represented by a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney. If you’ve been convicted and you have served your sentence, you may ask, “Can my criminal record be expunged?”
It’s an important question because a conviction in Nevada can mean restrictions on your housing, employment, and voting rights, your right to own a firearm, and your driving privilege. In some states, expungement entirely erases a criminal record. Is expungement available in Nevada?
How is “expunging” a criminal record different from “sealing” the record? Is sealing a criminal record an option in Nevada, and is it an option you should pursue with help from a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer?
If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of criminal records, you will find some answers, but if you are someone who needs to have a record sealed or expunged in Nevada, you’ll also need the personal advice and professional services that a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney provides.
How Are “Sealing” and “Expunging” Defined?
If you’ve had difficulty finding housing or employment, it might be because of your criminal record. Criminal records have always been public records, but today, anyone quickly and easily can go online to find out if anyone else has a criminal record.
Even arrest records are available to prospective landlords, employers, and neighbors. Expungement completely erases a criminal record as if the arrest or conviction never occurred. Unlike some states, Nevada does not expunge criminal records, but it does seal records.
Sealing a criminal record keeps the public – landlords, neighbors, and employers – from seeing that record. A sealed record in Nevada may be seen only by a limited number of people (such as a prosecutor or a professional licensing board), but for most purposes, the record is erased.
What Criminal Records Cannot Be Sealed?
The records of particular crimes cannot be sealed in Nevada. Those crimes include:
- sex crimes
- crimes committed against children
- home invasions with a deadly weapon
- felony driving under the influence
- vehicular homicide while under the influence
What Criminal Records May Be Sealed, and When?
If you were placed under arrest in the State of Nevada but you were not charged with a crime, or if you were charged with a crime and subsequently acquitted, there is no waiting period to seal the arrest record if there was no conviction, although the process may take two to four months.
To seal a conviction record in Nevada, there is a waiting period. The waiting period begins when the case closes, meaning that the offender has met all of the terms of his or her sentence: paid all fines, completed any required classes, served time in jail, and/or completed probation.
What Are the Waiting Times for Sealing Conviction Records?
Listed here are the waiting times for sealing misdemeanor conviction records in Nevada:
- for battery, harassment, stalking, or the violation of a protection order: two years
- for driving under the influence or domestic battery: seven years
- for gross misdemeanors: two years
- for all other misdemeanors: one year
Listed here are the waiting times for sealing felony conviction records:
- for category E felonies: two years
- for non-violent category D, C, and B felonies: five years
- for crimes of violence, residential burglary, and category A felonies: ten years
Offenders who complete a reentry program through the Nevada Department of Corrections will usually qualify to have the record sealed four years after the case closes. As mentioned previously, the sealing process in Nevada usually takes from two to four months to complete.
What Steps Do You Take to Seal a Criminal Record?
Each Nevada jurisdiction has its own procedure for sealing criminal records, but one mistake in the paperwork can delay the process for months. The first step in sealing a criminal record is consulting a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer who has extensive record sealing experience.
Your attorney will prepare the petition to seal your criminal record and file it with the court. The district attorney will then read your petition and will either approve it or reject it. If the district attorney does not sign an order to seal your record, you’ll be told why your petition was rejected.
Your own attorney may then ask the court to schedule a sealing hearing – to bypass the district attorney and have a court order the sealing of your record. If the court rejects your petition to seal your record, you must wait two years before you try again.
If your second petition fails, the record will not be sealed, and you may not file a third petition. You should also know that in some cases, even if you are eligible and the district attorney signs off on your petition to seal your record, the court may still deny your petition.
What About Sealing Juvenile Records?
Juvenile records in Nevada are automatically sealed when a juvenile turns age twenty-one provided that the individual was not convicted of a crime that would have been a felony had an adult committed it and was not convicted of a crime of violence or lewdness with a minor.
In those cases, an adult may petition the court to seal his or her juvenile record upon turning age thirty. Juvenile courts in Nevada usually approve the sealing of a juvenile record provided that the petitioner is rehabilitated and has not been convicted of any crimes of moral turpitude.
What Else Should You Know About Sealing Criminal Records?
When your criminal record has been sealed in Nevada, it will be as if the arrest and conviction never happened, and you may answer “No” to any question, even on an employment application, about the arrest and the subsequent conviction, dismissal, or acquittal.
Sealing your criminal record also restores most of the legal and civil rights you may have lost, including your right to vote, to hold office, and to serve on a jury. However, your right to own a firearm cannot be restored by sealing but only with a pardon.
If you’ve had difficulty locating housing or landing a job, and if you have a criminal record that needs to be sealed in the State of Nevada, do not wait any longer. Contact a Nevada criminal defense attorney at once to begin the sealing process.