Are adult criminal records ever automatically expunged or sealed?

Answer:  

Very rarely. In a few states, an arrest record may be automatically expunged if no charges are filed against you.

Generally, however, an adult criminal record will not be expunged or sealed unless you submit a request to the court that handled your case.

The request is often called a “petition” or “motion,” and you must usually pay a fee to file it. If you meet all the conditions required by state law, the court will order that your record be expunged or sealed.

Juvenile court records are handled differently. Many states automatically seal juvenile records. To find the rules that apply to juvenile records in your state, see  Expunging or Sealing a Juvenile Court Record.

The rules about automatically expunging or sealing adult criminal records may change in the future.

In at least one state, a law is currently pending that would require officials to automatically expunge the records for certain nonviolent offenses after a period of time.

Because rules change frequently, it is important to thoroughly research the laws of your state or talk with a qualified criminal defense attorney about your case.

To learn more about the rules for expunging an adult criminal record in your state, see  Expunging or Sealing an Adult Criminal Record.

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