Expungement in Arkansas
The legal removal of criminal history records is known as expungement. This is a privilege granted to those who meet certain criteria. According to Arkansas Code No. 16-90-901, records do not physically disappear, but only figuratively disappear from public view.
Expungement vs. Sealing of Records
Expungement and sealing are not synonymous. Sealing a record means concealing criminal records from the general public while still allowing specific authorities access. Expungement refers to the process of completely erasing records from public and government scrutiny.
Eligibility for Expungement
Only a few people in Arkansas are eligible for record expungement. Those who have been arrested but have not been charged with a crime have the option of expunging all petitions, arrest records, orders, and other documents related to the case. With the exception of pardoned offenses for sexual offenses, offenses against minors, and offenses resulting in death or serious injury, pardoned criminals may exercise this option.
If probation is fully completed, first-time offenders in most crimes, including driving offenses and controlled substance offenses, have the option of having their charges expunged. Minors who have been pardoned for offenses committed while under the age of sixteen and non-violent felonies committed while under the age of eighteen may be eligible. Individuals who have been charged and arrested but have had their charges dismissed, acquitted, or declared nolle prossed may petition the court.
Certain offenses are eligible under certain conditions after probation or a commitment to the Department of Correction has been completed and a transfer to the Department of Community Correction has occurred. These offenses include having no more than one previous felony conviction and not having a conviction for a capital offense, murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, first degree rape, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, or any other felony conviction.
Obtaining an Expungement
An individual convicted of a non-violent felony may petition the court for record expungement after a suspension has expired, probation time has been served, or a sentence has been completed. Adult arrest and conviction records, unlike many juvenile records, are not typically sealed or expunged after several years. A written application to the court must be petitioned and filed in accordance with established procedures.
Juvenile arrest and conviction records are typically sealed or expunged after a juvenile is arrested and adjudication or trial begins. To later destroy records, an application for expungement must sometimes be filed.
Denial of Expungement
Expungement petitions are sometimes denied for a variety of reasons. Existing addition convictions, previous expungement exits, pending arrests, sexual offense convictions, failing to meet set time periods set by law, registration as a sex offender, and court records indicating a case is still open are examples of these. The time limit for applying for expungement does not begin until all probation and confinement have been completed and all fines have been paid.