In Mississippi, a criminal record may be expunged—that is, sealed—under the circumstances described below. If expunged, the record will be hidden from public view. In most cases, a person can say that they were not arrested or convicted of the expunged crime.
In Mississippi, a person may ask the court to expunge certain criminal records relating to an arrest or conviction. Expungement doesn't mean a record will be physically destroyed. Rather, after the court orders the record expunged, it's kept as a nonpublic record accessible only to law enforcement and the courts.
For most purposes, a person can legally deny being arrested, indicted, or convicted of an expunged offense. Because criminal records can make it challenging to find a job or housing, expungement offers a person a chance to pursue these opportunities without the stigma of a record. (While a job applicant isn't required to list expunged offenses, Mississippi allows prospective employers to ask whether the applicant has ever received an expungement.)
Eligibility for expungement depends on the offense and type of record sought to be expunged.
No conviction resulted. In cases where charges were dropped, dismissed, or resulted in an acquittal, the law doesn't limit who or how many times a person can seek expungement. A person can typically ask for expungement right away unless no charges were filed. If the prosecutor didn't file charges or seek an indictment, the person must wait a year to ask for expungement.
Conviction resulted. A person seeking to expunge a conviction must usually be a first-time offender or wait a certain number of years to ask after completing their sentence (which includes payment of fines and fees).
Ineligible persons. Mississippi prohibits public officials from expunging any convictions related to their official duties. Also, a person cannot expunge any conviction that requires sex offender registration.
(Miss. Code §§ 45-33-55, 99-19-71 (2023).)
The following non-conviction records can be expunged in Mississippi. (Conviction records are discussed in the next section.)
A person who was arrested and released can petition (ask) the court to expunge their record if:
Any person acquitted of charges can also ask for expungement. The law requires the court to expunge the record in such cases.
(Miss. Code §§ 99-15-26(5), 99-19-71(4) (2023).)
A person who was arrested, cited, or detained for a misdemeanor can ask the court to expunge the record if charges are dismissed. If the prosecution doesn't formally charge or prosecute the case, the person can ask for expungement 12 months after the arrest.
(Miss. Code § 99-15-59 (2023).)
A person can ask the court to expunge their records upon:
The law states that the court shall enter the expungement if the person abides by and completes the court's conditions.
(Miss. Code §§ 41-29-150, 99-15-123 (2023).)
Expungement of convictions is much more limited than it is for non-conviction records. A person can only get one felony conviction expunged in a lifetime. When it comes to misdemeanors, a person might qualify for one or more expungements depending on the type of offense and the person's record.
The law allows expungement of misdemeanor conviction records and one non-violent felony conviction.
Misdemeanor convictions. A person with no prior convictions (a first offender) can ask the court to expunge a misdemeanor conviction. Additional misdemeanor convictions may be eligible for expungement in justice or municipal court if the person proves they've rehabilitated and have a record of good conduct for the past two years. (Miss. Code §§ 9-11-15 (3), 21-23-7, 99-19-71(1) (2023).)
Felony conviction; non-violent. A person can get one felony conviction expunged in a lifetime in Mississippi. The law requires a five-year waiting period that starts after the person completes their sentence, including payment of all fines and fees. To receive an expungement, the court must decide that the person is rehabilitated. The following felonies don't qualify for expungement:
(Miss. Code § 99-19-71 (2023).)
Certain alcohol-related offenses qualify for one-time expungement. A person who completes an intervention court can also ask to expunge a conviction.
Minor in possession. A person charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol can ask the judge to expunge a conviction or resulting dismissal and discharge. This section has a one-year wait period. (Miss. Code § 67-3-70 (2023).)
First DUI. A first-time DUI conviction is eligible for expungement once the person completes the entire sentence and five years have passed. Expungement is not available if the person has a commercial driver's license, refused to submit to a blood or breath test, tested at .16% BAC or above, or has pending DUI charges. Only one DUI expungement is allowed. (Miss. Code § 63-11-30 (2023).)
Intervention court. If a person successfully completes their sentence in an intervention court (like drug court), the judge must expunge the conviction. (Implied consent violations, however, don't qualify.) (Miss. Code § 9-23-23 (2023).)
To ask for an expungement, a person must file a petition with the court and pay a filing fee. Certain legal organizations may offer help finding and filling out these forms. Check out these organizations for more information:
Cleaning up a criminal record can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in Mississippi—or for advice about your personal situation—contact one of the above organizations or a qualified criminal defense attorney.