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Employment

Introduction

In some cases, you can ask the court to seal your criminal record from public view. This used to be called expungement. It is now called Petition and Order to Seal. Your records won't be physically destroyed, but they will be sealed and treated as confidential. Using the navigation bar to your left, you will find several different resources for sealing your criminal record.

What Records Can Be Sealed

When you were sentenced, the sentencing had to be under a law that allows your criminal records to be sealed. Before you can ask to have your records sealed, you must complete all the terms and conditions of your probation and pay any fines or costs that were part of your sentence.

After you have finished your sentence, you have to wait 5 years to seal your record for:

  • negligent homicide (if it was a Class A misdemeanor)

  • battery in the third degree

  • indecent exposure

  • public sexual indecency

  • sexual assault in the fourth degree

  • domestic battering in the third degree

Other Misdemeanors and Felonies may be sealed immediately.

Records That Cannot Be Sealed

  • sexual offense in which the victim was under the age of 18 years

  • Class Y felony

  • Class A or B felony that are not drug offenses

  • manslaughter

  • unclassified felony with a maximum sentence that was more than 10 years

  • violent felony

If any of the above is true, you will need to complete an application for pardon on the Arkansas Governor's website.

Before completing the Petition and Order to Seal forms, it helps to have your Judgment and Commitment Order. If you do not have this legal document, you can go to the clerk's office where you were sentenced and ask for a copy. The clerk may charge a small fee (generally $5) for the copies.

Benefits of Sealing Your Record

When your criminal records are sealed, you may have an easier time finding employment and housing. When you interview for a job or housing, you can legally state that you have not been convicted or arrested of a crime.

Sealing Your Records Cannot

  • restore your gun rights if you are sealing a felony conviction (unless you were sentenced under a deferred sentence statute)

  • prevent your record from being used against you in a trial, by the police, or by the prosecutor if you are arrested or go to court

  • block access by employers in law enforcement, day care, nursing homes, and teaching

Who Can See Your Sealed Records

  • the defendant and their attorney

  • the Criminal Justice Agency for a job reference

  • a court if you have been convicted of another crime

  • a prosecuting attorney

  • the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC)

If your criminal records appear in a background check after they have been sealed, you have a right to ask for the background check company’s information and give them the Order to Seal. The company will have to correct their records. (Background check companies are still governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.) When certain employers (like teachers, day care workers, nursing homes, and law enforcement agencies), do a background check, all convictions show up. This means that they can see any sealed criminal records.