Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Arkansas

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.

In Arkansas, you may be able to have your criminal records sealed -- that is, erased or expunged -- if you meet certain requirements. For legal purposes, after a criminal record is sealed, 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 § 16-90-1417 (2018).)

Which Records Can Be Sealed?

Misdemeanors. If you have met all the conditions and court orders pertaining to your sentence, you must wait 60 days to ask to have a misdemeanor conviction sealed. 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 or boating while intoxicated.

(Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-1405 (2018).)

Felonies. If you have met all the conditions and court orders pertaining to your sentence, you must wait five years to ask to have a felony conviction sealed and have no more than one prior felony conviction. Only the following felony offenses are eligible for sealing:

  • Class C and Class D felonies
  • unclassified felonies, and
  • certain drug convictions.

(Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-1406 (2018).)

Offenses for which the charges were dropped, dismissed, or not filed – 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 sealing. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-1410 (2018).)

If you were arrested but the prosecuting attorney failed to file charges within one year of the date of the arrest, you may ask for your arrest record to be sealed. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-1410 (2018).)

Victims of human trafficking. If you were convicted of prostitution as a result of being a victim of human trafficking, you may ask for the record of that conviction to be sealed at any time. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-1412 (2018).)

Possession of a controlled substance. If you were convicted of possession of a controlled substance, you may petition for your record to be sealed if:

  • prior to sentencing, a court-appointed officer determined whether you were a candidate for residential drug treatment
  • the court placed you on probation, with the conditions that you complete a court-approved drug treatment program and you remain drug-free until the successful completion of your probation, and
  • you completed all terms and conditions of your probation.

(Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-1407 (2018).)

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 sealed. However, your records will not be sealed if you are a first offender and were found guilty or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to:

(Arkansas Statutes § 16-93-303 (2018).)

Other offenses, after probation or jail sentence. Your records may be eligible for sealing 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 (2018).)

Which Records Cannot Be Sealed?

Your records will not be sealed if you were found guilty or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to any of the following offenses:

  • a Class Y felony
  • a Class A or Class B felony that isn’t a drug offense
  • manslaughter
  • an unclassified felony that carries a maximum sentence of more than ten years
  • a felony sex offense
  • a violent felony
  • a felony for which you served any portion of your sentence as an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, or
  • a traffic offense if, at the time of your conviction, you held a commercial driver’s license or a commercial driver’s permit.

(Arkansas Statutes §§ 16-90-1405, 16-90-1408 (2018).)

How to File for Sealing

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 § 16-90-1413 (2018).)

You can find the petition, called the "Petition and Order to Seal," at the Arkansas Crime Information Center website.

If your records are sealed, it means that they are sealed and treated as confidential; they are not physically destroyed. (Arkansas Statutes § 16-90-1404 (2018).)

Get Legal Help

Filing a petition to seal can be complicated, and the laws and procedures can change at any time. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to see if your conviction is eligible for sealing.

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