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Sealing And Expunging Criminal Records In Arkansas

Arkansas State law makes provisions for persons who wish to erase a criminal record. For these persons, the sealing or expungement of their criminal histories allows them social privileges that may otherwise be hindered by having a publicly accessible criminal record. Both convicts and victims are affected by criminal history information. As such, either or both parties qualify to request that a record be sealed or expunged.

The Difference Between Sealing And Expunging Criminal Records In Arkansas

In Arkansas. criminal records are sealed when all or some information contained in the document is restricted from public access. However, expungement means that the documents are destroyed rather than restricted. Even though both processes yield similar results, there are no expungement options for adult criminal records in Arkansas except for juvenile criminal records. However, persons with sealed records can legally claim that the offense did not happen.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Seal a Criminal Record In Arkansas

Follow these steps to get a criminal record sealed in Arkansas:

  • Get a copy of a judgment and commitment order form from the clerk’s office of the court that issued the sentence.
  • Pay the required fee. There is no fixed cost, but it is to cover the service of making copies.
  • Request and get a copy of the Arkansas Crime Information Center criminal history record. This document provides detailed information about the criminal history of the individual.
  • Gather all necessary documents. Among them is evidence of completion of sentence, proof of payment at the sheriff’s Department, and proof of completion of probation at the probation department.
  • Download, fill out and file a uniform petition to seal in the Circuit or District Court that issued a sentence. The forms are available at the Arkansas Crime Information Center Forms Page. Read through the instructions carefully to determine which form applies.
  • Submit the forms. There is no filing fee involved in this process.
  • Make three copies of all documents and bring them along to the Circuit Court Clerk or District Court clerk’s office that filed charges. Use the court location directory to determine the address for the Circuit Court and the District Court clerks.
  • File the petition and supporting documents with the relevant clerk’s office
  • Submit a copy of the filed legal forms: one to the prosecuting attorney’s office and the other to the arresting agency.
  • Allow for processing time. Objections from the District Attorney to seal a misdemeanor conviction will issue a filing notice within 30 days stating clearly the reasons for the opposition. If it is a felony conviction, the waiting period is 90 days.
  • If the sealing authority grants the petition, it issues a uniform order to seal with the court clerk. Subsequently, the clerk makes copies of the document and sends it to all state repositories of criminal information: the prosecutor arresting agency, ACIC, and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

What Crimes Can Be Expunged In Arkansas?

Arkansas has an extensive list of crimes eligible for sealing. Note that sealing is the expungement process for adult criminal records.

  • Arrest without charges for an entire year
  • Charges that led to a dismissal acquittal or Nolle prosequi for an entire year
  • First offense bearing a deferred sentence and probation
  • Offenses with community corrections as sentences
  • Misdemeanors
  • Nonviolent class C or D felonies
  • Selected drug-associated class A or B felonies
  • Unclassified felonies
  • Prostitution offenses because of being a victim of human trafficking
  • Convictions with a governor’s pardon

Ineligible offenses include:

  • Class A, B, and Y felonies exception being drug-related cases
  • Manslaughter
  • Sex crimes
  • Violent felonies
  • Felony convictions that ended up as incarceration terms at the Department of corrections
  • Felony traffic offenses

It is compulsory to have completed sentences, payment of restitution, court fees, and reinstatement fees applicable to qualify to apply for a sealing process.

Most first offender non-felonies go through automatic expungement with no waiting period after application. The same rule applies to misdemeanor convictions and nonviolent felony convictions. The following crimes require a five-year waiting period after completion of the sentence to apply for record sealing:

  • Indecent exposure
  • Public sexual inappropriateness
  • A DUI
  • A violent class C or D felony
  • 3rd-degree battery

During the waiting period, there must be no pending charges or additional convictions.

How To Expunge Criminal Records In Arkansas

The law reserves the expungement of criminal records only for juvenile criminal records. It is an automatic process that goes active when a juvenile clocks 21 years of age. The court keeps delinquency adjudications arising from adult criminal trials for ten years after the filing. Cases like this are subject to expungement at court discretion. Otherwise, juvenile records get routinely expunged by default.

Do Sealed Records Show Up In Arkansas Background Checks?

No. Sealed records are not visible in Arkansas with criminal background checks. The reason is that sealing processes in Arkansas have the same impact as an expunction process, only that the authorities keep the files. It is visible only to court authorities and law enforcement agencies upon request. When a record becomes sealed, most of the rights and privileges of the individual get restored.

Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records In Arkansas?

Sealed criminal records are invisible to members of the public. The court authorities do not release criminal records to a requester unless they have a court order. However, the law allows state entities, boards, or law enforcement agencies to see sealed records.

How To Get Sealed Records In Arkansas

Unless the requester represents a government agency, sealed records are not available without a court order. To get a court order, file a petition with the court of current jurisdiction on the case clearly stating the reasons for which the court must grant access. After a scheduled hearing, the judge decides based on the law’s guidelines if the request has merit. Suppose it does, the judge will issue a court order, which the requester must submit along with a request to view the sealed record. Note that each court order is valid only for one viewing or copying event.

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