Expunging an Adult Criminal Record in Arkansas

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In Arkansas, you may be able to have your criminal records expunged -- that is, erased or sealed -- if you meet certain requirements. For legal purposes, after a criminal record is expunged, it is as though the crime never happened. You are legally permitted to state that the conduct never occurred and that the record does not exist. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-902.)

Which Records Can Be Expunged?

Misdemeanors. If you have met all the conditions and court orders pertaining to your sentence, you can ask to have a misdemeanor conviction expunged. If the offense is one of the following, however, there is a five-year waiting period:

  • Class A negligent homicide
  • battery in the third degree
  • indecent exposure
  • public sexual indecency
  • sexual assault in the fourth degree
  • domestic battery in the third degree, or
  • driving while intoxicated.

(Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-904.)

Your records will not be expunged if you were found guilty or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to a sexual crime involving a victim under the age of 18. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-901.)

Offenses for which the charges were dropped or dismissed – or of which you were acquitted.  If you were arrested and charged with a criminal offense and the charges were later dropped (“nolle prossed”) or dismissed, or if you were acquitted at trial, your records are eligible for expungement. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-906.)

Possession of a controlled substance, after probation. If you plead guilty to charges of possession of a controlled substance and complete all terms and conditions of your probation, the court will clear your record. Some substances are not covered by this law, and it does not usually apply if you have been convicted of a drug offense in the past. (Arkansas Statutes § 5-64-413.)

First offenders, after probation. If you are a first offender and you plead guilty or no contest to the charges against you, a judge may place you on probation for one year or more. After you complete all the terms and conditions of probation, your records may be expunged. Your records will not be expunged if you were found guilty or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to a sexual crime involving a victim under the age of 18. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-93-303.)

Other offenses, after probation or jail sentence. Your records may be eligible for expungement if you successfully complete probation, commitment to the Department of Correction with judicial transfer to the Community Correction, or a commitment to a county jail for an offense targeted for community correction placement. This does not apply if you have more than one previous felony conviction, or if you have a previous felony conviction for a capital offense, murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, or delivering a controlled substance to a minor. (Arkansas Statutes §16-93-1207.)

How to File For Expungement

If your offense is eligible for expungement, you may file a petition to seal your records. You must file the petition in the circuit or district court in the county where you committed the crime and in which you were convicted. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-904.)

You can find the petition, called the "Uniform Petition and Order to Seal," at the Arkansas Legal Services Partnership website.  

If your records are expunged, it means that they are sealed and treated as confidential; they are not physically destroyed. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-901.)

by: , J.D.

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