The internet makes it easy for future employers, landlords, and the general public to view mugshots and become privy to your arrest record, which is humiliating and can also make it difficult to find employment, regardless of whether or not the arrest resulted in a conviction.
The good news is that it may be possible to seal your arrest record. Once your record is sealed, the Department of Justice, as well as law enforcement and criminal agencies, are ordered to destroy your records, allowing you to legally deny the existence of the arrest. Third parties, such as employers and background check companies, are informed that your records were legally sealed by the courts, which is then reflected in their records.
You are not eligible for an arrest record sealing if your arrest resulted in a conviction. You must also be able to prove factual innocence, meaning that you are not guilty of the crime for which you were charged.
If you would like to know if you are eligible to seal your arrest record, there are a few methods that you can use to determine if you are eligible. The easiest way is to take a free online eligibility test. You can also call an attorney who specializes in criminal record sealing.
If you decide to proceed with the record sealing process, you have the option to file the paperwork on your own. Hiring a well-informed attorney, however, is advisable. By hiring an attorney, you can avoid mistakes that could prolong the sealing process, which could potentially cost you a great deal of money, or possibly cause your case to be denied. If, however, you cannot afford to hire an attorney, then you should contact the state bar association for a list of free or low cost options.
Benefits of Sealing an Arrest Record:
Once an arrest has been removed from your record, you can honestly say that the arrest never occurred. As such, you will no longer be limited by your arrest record, furthering your chances of taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way.
How long does the process take?
If you were arrested, but charges were not filed against you in court, when you file your petition or record sealing, the arresting agency must be contacted and given 60 days to grant or deny your request. If the arresting agency does not reply within 60 days, then your case can be filed with the court. Typically, the courts take four to six months to process these cases, depending on the court, and are handled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
How much does the filing fee to seal an arrest record cost?
There is no filing fee for an arrest record sealing. Filing is free.
How do you file for an arrest record sealing?
You do not need to file a petition for an arrest record sealing with the court unless the arresting agency that initially oversaw your case objects to your request. In that case, you would file with the court that has jurisdiction over the area where you were arrested.
How do you prove that you are factually innocent?
You must prove to the court that there is no reasonable basis to believe you committed the offense for which you were arrested. You will be allowed to present your side of the story to the judge. You can present sworn testimonies, arrest records, photographs, and any other evidence that would be allowed if there was a trial.