Expungement is the legal elimination of criminal history records. This is a privilege that is granted to those under specified circumstances. According to Arkansas Code No. 16-90-901 records do not completely disappear physically, they only figuratively disappear from the view of the public.
Record Expungement versus Record Sealing
Expungement and sealing are not interchangeable. Sealing a record refers to hiding criminal records from the general public yet still giving access to specific authorities. Expungement refers to completely destroying records from all viewing, for both public and government purposes.
Only a few are eligible for record expungement in the state of Arkansas. Those that have been arrested and were not charged with a guilty verdict have the option of expunging all petitions, arrest records, orders, and any other documents in relation to the case to be expunged. Pardoned criminals may have this option with the exception of pardoned offenses for sexual offenses, offenses against minors, and offenses resulting in death or serious injury.
First time offenders in most crimes along with driving offenses and controlled substance offenses have the expungement option if probation has been completed fully. Pardoned minors for offenses committed under the age of sixteen and non-violent felonies committed by those under the age of eighteen may be eligible. All individuals who were charged and arrested but the charges were dismissed, acquitted, or deemed nolle prossed can petition the court.
After probation or a commitment to the Department of Correction has been completed and a transfer to the Department of Community Correction has taken place, certain offenses are eligible under particular conditions. These offenses include no more than one previous felony conviction and not having a conviction be a capital offense, murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, first degree rape, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, or any offense in relation to distributing substances to minors; or not having any other felony convictions.
After a suspension has expired, probation time has been served, or a sentence has been completed, an individual who has been convicted of a non-violent felony may petition the court for record expungement for that crime. Unlike many juvenile records, adult arrest and conviction records are not normally sealed or expunged after several years. A written application to the court needs to be petitioned and filed according to set rules.
Juvenile conviction and arrest records are on average automatically sealed or expunged after a juvenile is arrested and adjudication or trial begins. At times application for expungement must be filed to later destroy records.
Expungement petitions can at times be denied for various reasons. These include existing addition convictions, previous expungement exits, pending arrests, sexual offense convictions, not meeting set time periods set by the law, registration as a sex offender, and court records that indicate a case is still open. The time period in which a person must wait to apply for expungement does not begin until all probation and confinement has been completed and all fines have been paid. See also:
Arkansas Felony External link (opens in new window)
Arkansas Misdemeanor External link (opens in new window)
Arkansas Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)