Sealing A Criminal Conviction
In Arkansas, it is possible to have your conviction “sealed”. This used to be called an “expungement”. When your record is sealed, the physical copies of the case will not be destroyed, but they will be treated as confidential for most purposes. Arkansas law regarding sealing is governed by the “Comprehensive Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2013“.
Can My Case Be Sealed / Expunged?
For a misdemeanor conviction, you can get your record sealed after 60 days. However, there are some crimes that are exceptions to this and will require a waiting period of 5 years. Those crimes are:
- Negligent Homicide
- Third Degree Battery
- Indecent Exposure
- DWI / DUI
- Fourth Degree Sexual Assault
- Public Sexual Indecency
For a felony conviction, you are eligible to get your record sealed after 5 years if you have no more than one prior felony conviction and the crime at issue was:
- Class D or C
- A nonviolent felony by someone under 18 year old
- Class A or B for drugs
First Time Offenders And Other Options
In Arkansas, the process of expunging a criminal record is known as “sealing”. Sealing is the legal process of sealing or destroying a criminal record so that it is no longer available to the public. This can help individuals who have been convicted of a crime in the past move on with their lives by removing the stigma of having a criminal record.
The process of expungement in Arkansas varies depending on the nature of the offense and the length of time since the conviction. Here are the general steps to expunge a criminal record in Arkansas:
- Determine eligibility: Individuals who have completed their sentence, including any probation or parole, and have not been convicted of any other crimes within a certain period of time may be eligible for expungement. The waiting period varies depending on the offense, but it typically ranges from one to five years.
- Obtain necessary documents: The individual must obtain a copy of their criminal record and any court documents related to the offense.
- File a petition for expungement: The individual must file a petition for expungement with the court in the county where the offense occurred. The petition must include a statement of the reasons for seeking expungement, the specific offense for which expungement is sought, and the date of the offense.
- Attend a hearing: The court will schedule a hearing to review the petition. The individual must attend the hearing and present evidence to support their request for expungement.
- Wait for the decision: The court will review the evidence presented at the hearing and make a decision on whether to grant or deny the expungement petition. If the petition is granted, the individual’s criminal record will be sealed or destroyed.
It’s important to note that not all criminal offenses are eligible for expungement in Arkansas. For example, violent offenses and offenses involving sexual misconduct are generally not eligible. It’s also worth noting that the expungement process can be complex and time-consuming, so it may be helpful to consult with an attorney for guidance.
Act 346, also known as the First Offender Act, is a law in Arkansas that provides an opportunity for first-time offenders to avoid a permanent criminal record. The law allows certain individuals who have been charged with non-violent offenses to complete a period of probation and, if successful, have their charges dismissed without a conviction.
Here are some key points to understand about the First Offender Act in Arkansas:
- Eligibility: To be eligible for the First Offender Act, an individual must not have been previously convicted of a felony. There’s also limitations to the offenses in which 346 is available, such as: the offense must not require registration as a sex offender or be a serious violent felony.
- Probation: If the individual is accepted into the program, they will be placed on probation for a period of time determined by the court. The probation period must be at least 1 year. During this time, the individual must comply with certain conditions, such as completing community service, attending counseling, or refraining from drug or alcohol use.
- Dismissal of charges: If the individual successfully completes the probationary period, their charges will be dismissed without a conviction. This means that they will not have a permanent criminal record for the offense.
- Violations: If the individual violates the terms of their probation, their charges may be reinstated, and they may be subject to sentencing. However, the court must find that the violation was willful before revoking the individual’s first offender status.
- Limitations: It’s important to note that the First Offender Act is not available for all offenses, and there are some limitations to the benefits it provides. For example, even if the charges are dismissed, the individual may still be required to disclose the offense on job applications or in other situations.
Overall, the First Offender Act in Arkansas provides a valuable opportunity for first-time offenders to avoid a permanent criminal record and the associated negative consequences. However, it’s important to consult with an attorney to determine eligibility and to understand the potential limitations of the program.
An offense can also be sealed under Act 531. Act 531 and Act 346 have several similarities; however, some differences include:
- Act 531 can be used by someone previously convicted of a felony.
- An individual sentenced under Act 531 will be initially convicted.
- An individual sentenced to jail or prison can still use Act 531 while Act 346 is only available to those sentenced to probation.
Contact Wesley Rhodes, Attorney At Law, For Help With Your Case
You can easily reach my Little Rock firm online or at 501-301-4591. Time is critical when you have been accused of committing a crime. Get attentive legal representation to help you defend against charges or determine your eligibility to have your record sealed.