In Utah, you can petition (ask) the court to expunge (seal) qualifying criminal records, including certain convictions. The courts may even expunge your record automatically in some cases. Learn what records may be eligible for expungement and who qualifies.
Expungement is a court process that seals a person's criminal records from public view, including records of arrest, charges, conviction, probation, and related case records. While expunged records are not physically destroyed, the courts and agencies that hold expunged criminal records may not release them. This means potential employers, landlords, and educational institutions won't see a criminal record when running a background check. And the person whose record was expunged can say they've never been arrested or convicted of a crime.
Utah has two types of expungement—automatic and petition-based expungement. Automatic expungement started in 2022. The automatic expungement process eliminates the time and expense of petitioning (asking) the court 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 §§ 77-40A-401, -402 (2023).)
Utah courts will automatically expunge certain criminal records where no conviction resulted (dismissals and acquittals), as well as qualifying misdemeanor conviction records (referred to as "clean slate eligible cases"), once the applicable time period has passed.
The following records may qualify for automatic expungement:
Cases dismissed without prejudice or as a result of a plea in abeyance agreement must generally meet all the requirements that apply to convictions.
Some convictions are ineligible for automatic expungement, including sex offenses, person offenses, DUIs, domestic violence, and weapons offenses.
Also, some individuals' conviction records won't qualify for automatic expungement based on their criminal history record or if more serious charges were involved in the case. In addition, a person can't have any outstanding fines or restitution amounts due and no pending (active) charges. The prosecutor's office can also challenge the automatic expungement of clean slate eligible cases.
To find out if your record was automatically expunged, you can file a verification request with the Utah Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). You can find the application form, instructions, and fees on the BCI website.
(Utah Code §§ 77-40A-101, 77-40A-201, 77-40A-203 (2023).)
Records that don't qualify for automatic expungement might qualify for petition-based expungement, which requires a person to file a motion with the court.
A person who was arrested or charged in a case but no conviction resulted (other than for certain traffic offenses) may qualify for expungement of related arrest, investigation, and detention records.
Eligible cases. This type of expungement applies to cases where:
Qualifying persons. To qualify, the person must:
Eligible records must go through the petition process described below.
(Utah Code § 77-40A-302 (2023).)
In Utah, many criminal felony and misdemeanor conviction records may be expunged if the person qualifies and the waiting period has expired. These wait times run from the date of conviction or release from incarceration, probation, or parole, whichever is the latest, as follows:
Ineligible convictions. Some criminal convictions cannot be expunged, short of a pardon. These include capital, first-degree, and violent felonies, felony driving under the influence (DUI) offense, felony vehicular homicide, and sex or child abuse offenses that require registration.
Disqualifications. Anyone who provides false or misleading information in an expungement application may be disqualified from receiving expungement (even if eligible). Also, some individuals won't qualify for expungement based on their criminal record or if they have a pending (active) case. Having two or more prior convictions on record may disqualify a person depending on the type of offense. (Pending or previous infractions, traffic offenses, minor regulatory offenses, and expunged clean slate eligible cases don't count against eligibility for expungement.)
(Utah Code §§ 77-40A-301, 77-40A-303 (2023).)
The petition process can be complex and take several months. Here are the general steps to expect.
Step 1: The first step is to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). A person must pay an application fee and submit fingerprints. If eligible for expungement, another issuance fee applies.
Step 2: After receiving a Certificate of Eligibility, the second step is to file a petition with the court that heard the case or would have. The certificate of eligibility expires after 180 days, so the person needs to petition the court before the expiration date (or go through Step 1 again).
Wait: Once filed, the court sends the petition to the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor will review the application and notify any victims.
Possible Step 3: If the prosecutor or victim objects to the expungement, the person may respond to the objections and attend a hearing to tell the court why the expungement should be granted.
(Utah Code § 77-40A-305 (2023).)
You don't necessarily need an attorney to expunge your records. The Utah Courts, BCI, and several other organizations have step-by-step instructions and forms online. Check out some of these resources:
The petition process can be complex, though. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the process, you might want to contact an attorney who handles criminal expungements.