The Arkansas law allowing a record of a conviction to be sealed allows the offense to be treated as if it never happened. A person whose record has been sealed shall have all privileges and rights restored and not affect any of his or her civil rights or liberties unless otherwise specifically provided by law. Upon the entry of the uniform order, the person’s underlying conduct shall be deemed as a matter of law never to have occurred, and the person may state that the underlying conduct did not occur and that a record of the person that was sealed does not exist
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Arkansas Legal Services Partnership: Interactive Felony Expungement Form Packet
Arkansas Legal Services Partnership: Sealing Criminal Records (Expungement)
Arkansas Legal Services Partnership: Sealing Criminal Records Instructions
Sebastian County: Petition to Seal Instructions
eHow Article: How to Expunge Misdemeanors in Arkansas
Lawyers.com Article: The Expungement Process in Arkansas
Who is Not Eligible?
The following criminal records cannot be sealed in Arkansas:
- A sexual offense in which the victim was under the age of 18 years
- A felony in which you spent any time in the Arkansas Department of Corrections
- A Class Y felony
- A Class A or B felony that are not drug offenses
- An unclassified felony with a maximum sentence that was more than 10 years
- A violent felony
Who is Eligible?
Drug Court Probation: If you have completed a drug court program, and received aftercare programming, then you may be eligible to receive an expungment. In addition, the judge must have received a recommendation from the prosecuting attorney for expungment and dismissal of the case, and must feel that it is appropriate to grant a petition for expungment. A.C.A. § 16-98-303(g). (This does not apply if you have pled nolo contendre or guilty to the following: residential burglary, commercial burglary, breaking and entering, or having four or more offenses of DWI).
Misdemeanor: If you were convicted of a misdemeanor offense, you shall have your record expunged unless the court is presented with clear and convincing evidence that it should not be. A.C.A. §16-90-904. (This does not apply to negligent homicide [if a Class A felony], battery in the third degree, indecent exposure, public sexual indecency, sexual assault in the fourth degree, domestic battering in the third degree, or driving while intoxicated. The records mentioned directly above may be expunged after a period of five years has passed since the completion of your sentence).
Probation, Possession of a Controlled Substance: If you plead guilty of possession of a controlled substance, the court may place you on probation for a period at least one year. After completing the terms and conditions, the court shall discharge you and dismiss the proceedings against you. A.C.A. § 5-64-413 (This does not apply if you have previously plead guilty or nolo contendere or been found guilty of any Controlled Substance offense or any state offense relating to narcotic drugs, marijuana, stimulants, depressants, or hallucinogenic drugs and does not apply for substances listed under Schedule I).
Probation, First Time Offenders: If you plead guilty or no contest, the court may place you on probation for a period of at least one year. You must have been sentenced under the act and can only use this act once. After completion of the terms and conditions of probation, the court shall dismiss the case and expunge the record. A.C.A. § 16-93-303. (This does not apply if you received a fine greater than $3,500 or if you were sentenced to prison or regional correction facility.)
Probation or Jail Sentence: Upon a successful completion of probation, commitment to the Department of Correction with judicial transfer to the Community Correction, or a commitment to a county jail for one of the offenses targeted for community correction placement, the court may direct that your record be expunged. A.C.A. §16-93-1207. (This does not apply if you were convicted for a capital offense, murder, rape, kidnapping, or aggravated robbery. If your conviction occurred prior to 1993, you must have been specifically sentenced under the act in order to be eligible.)
What Paperwork is Required?
If you are eligible to have an offense expunged then you can file a petition to seal your records. You will need to complete an application for Petition to Seal and bring it, together with the accompanying letters required to the office of the Court Administrator. You must collect documents with signatures from the offices listed on the form. Some offices may charge fees for these documents; for example, the Sheriff’s Department charges $6 for this service.
You must file the Petition and the Order to Seal in the circuit or district court of the county where your arrest or conviction occurred.
What Happens After I File My Petition?
After you file your petition, a copy will be sent to the prosecutor and the arresting agency.
Anyone who is against having your record sealed must file a notice of opposition with the court within 30 days of your petition filing. They must explain why they do not want your record sealed.
The court may grant the petition without a hearing if no one is opposed to it. But if notice of opposition is filed, the court will set a hearing date for you to go before a judge.
What Are the Most Common Reasons for Denial?
- Unpaid fines, fees, court costs, or restitution
- Probation term has not ended
- Terms of probation were not successfully completed
- Not sentenced under an expunging statute
What Happens If My Petition is Granted?
If the judge decides your record should be sealed, then he or she will sign the order for your records to be sealed. The signed order must be filed with the court clerk.
Who Has Access to My Sealed Criminal Record?
Normally only you or your attorney can have access to your sealed records. But in some cases others may request your records. This could be the case if you apply for a job as a teacher, day care worker, nursing home employee or as an employee of a criminal justice agency. The Arkansas Crime Information Center may have access to your sealed records.
Also, a prosecuting attorney may request to view your sealed records if you are being prosecuted for another crime. And if you are convicted of a crime after your records have been sealed, the judge may request to view your sealed records for purposes of enhancing your sentence.
What Happens to My Sealed Criminal Record?
The court clerk will remove all documents relating to your case and place them in a file, in a separate and confidential holding area within the clerk’s office. Also, any electronic records must also be sealed.
If My Criminal Record is Sealed, Can I Carry a Firearm in Arkansas?
Arkansas law does not allow an expungement to restore your right to carry a firearm unless the governor expressly restores it by receiving a pardon. However, if you were sentenced under the First Time Offender Act, you do not need to get a pardon in order to be eligible to carry a firearm.
If My Criminal Record is Sealed, Is My Right to Vote Restored?
Under Arkansas law, a convicted felon can register to vote without an expungement. They must provide proof to the county clerk that they have been discharged from probation or parole, have paid all probation and parole fees, or have satisfied all terms of imprisonment and paid all fines, court costs and restitution.
My Sealed Record Keeps Showing Up on Background Checks. What Do I Do?
The law only deals with criminal background checks run through the state of Arkansas. Some employers will use a background check company on the Internet costing a few dollars and many of these companies routinely ignore court orders to seal criminal records. You will have to deal with the background check company directly. For more information, go to our page for the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Additional Arkansas Resources
Arkansas Legal Services Partnership (2012)