In Utah, you can petition the court to expunge—that is, erase or seal—your criminal records under the circumstances described below. Additionally, Utah courts automatically expunge records if the criminal case results in acquittal or dismissal with prejudice or meets the definition of “clean slate eligible.”
If your record is expunged, it will no longer be visible to the general public, including potential employers and landlords. In most cases, you may say that you were never arrested or convicted of a crime.
On May 1, 2020, Utah began automatically expunging criminal records relating to cases that were dismissed with prejudice (meaning the charges cannot be refiled), resulted in acquittal (found not guilty), or qualify as “clean slate eligible.”
Low-level convictions for certain minor offenses are clean slate eligible once a set amount of time has passed: five years for infractions and class C misdemeanors, six years for class B misdemeanors, and seven years for class A misdemeanors for drug possession.
Some individuals' records will not qualify for automatic expungement based on their criminal history record or if more serious charges were involved in the case. In addition, a person must have no outstanding fines or restitution amounts due and no pending charges.
The process for automatic expungement depends on the type of case. Cases decided before May 1, 2020 (the day the law went into effect) also qualify.
Acquittals and dismissals. For cases resulting in an acquittal or dismissal, the judge will automatically issue an expungement order (no petition required) and notify the various agencies holding related records of the order.
Clean slate eligible. A similar process occurs for clean slate eligible cases, but for these cases, the prosecutor’s office has a chance to review the record first and challenge its eligibility (if applicable).
The automatic expungement process eliminates the time and expense of petitioning for expungement but only applies to a limited number of cases. For cases not eligible for automatic expungement, a person might be able to petition the court to seal certain records.
(Utah Code §§ 77-40-102, -113 to -116 (2020).)
If your case did not result in a conviction and one of the following statements (below) is true, you can petition for expungement of related arrest, investigation, and detention records.
To qualify, at least 30 days must have passed since the arrest and there are no other criminal cases pending against you. (Utah Code § 77-40-104 (2020).)
In Utah, many criminal felony and misdemeanor conviction records may be expunged if the person qualifies and the waiting period has expired. Some criminal convictions cannot be expunged, short of a pardon.
The following offenses do not qualify for expungement unless you’ve been pardoned for the offense by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole:
You do not qualify for expungement of any conviction if you provide false or misleading information on your expungement paperwork or have a criminal case pending against you. Additionally, you are disqualified if your criminal history includes past convictions for:
If ten years have passed from the date of your conviction or the completion of all terms of your sentence, whichever is later, then the number of convictions in the above list may be increased by one. Pending or previous infractions, traffic offenses, minor regulatory offenses, and expunged clean slate eligible cases do not count for purposes of determining the eligibility of your record for expungement.
If you’re eligible for expungement, you must satisfy the following waiting periods before applying to expunge your record. These wait times run from the date you were convicted or released from incarceration, probation, or parole, whichever is the latest.
Before applying to expunge your criminal record, you must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification. You must then file your petition for expungement in the court that heard your case or, if there was no case against you, in the district court of the county where you were arrested.
(Utah Code §§ 77-40-103 to -105 (2020).)
For detailed information about filing for expungement, see the Utah State Courts website.
Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated, and the law can change at any time. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in Utah—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.