Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in North Dakota
In North Dakota, criminal records are rarely expunged -- that is, erased or sealed. This article describes the few situations in which expungement or sealing may be permitted. If your record is expunged or sealed, it cannot be accessed by the general public, including potential employers. In most cases, you may say that you were not arrested or convicted of a crime.
Note that, in North Dakota, criminal history reports and court records are two different things. In some cases, your record may be expunged from one system and not the other. For example, some types of information will be automatically deleted from your criminal history report after three years, though the same information may still be available in court files. On the other hand, it is possible that your court record may be expunged but that the information will still appear on your criminal history report. For more information, see the website of the North Dakota Attorney General.
If You Were Arrested But Not Convicted of a Crime
The North Dakota Supreme Court has declared that a judge may order the expungement of an arrest record if the arrest was “unlawful in violation of the arrestee’s constitutional rights and the arrestee has not been subsequently convicted.” (State v. Howe, 308 N.W. 2nd 743 (N.D. 1981).) If this statement applies to you, consult a criminal law attorney for help seeking a court-ordered expungement.
If You Were Convicted of a Crime
Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. If you are a first-time offender and there are no other charges pending against you, you may petition for expungement two years after the date of your conviction. (N.D. Cent. Code § 19-03.1-23.)
DNA evidence. If DNA evidence was collected from you as part of a criminal investigation, your DNA records may be expunged from the state database if:
- you were not charged with a felony within one year
- you were convicted of a misdemeanor
- your case was terminated due to dismissal or acquittal, or
- your conviction was reversed.
(N.D. Cent. Code § 31-13-07.)
Getting Legal Help
Cleaning up your criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in North Dakota -- or for advice about your personal situation -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.