Sealing Records

 No one wants to have a permanent criminal history, but if you plead guilty or are found guilty at trial, you may have a permanent criminal records.  But many people are unaware that they may be eligible to seal their criminal records in certain circumstances.  In those cases where charges are never filed, the charges are dismissed in their entirety or they are found not guilty at trial, it may be possible to seal those records.  You should be aware that the records will not be automatically sealed in the event of a dismissal or not guilty verdict unless there is a formal petition to seal the records filed with the court.

A hearing for a petition to seal records is held in a civil court and is separate from the underlying criminal proceedings.  You must pay a filing fee for a petition to seal records.  When a request is made to seal records, a hearing is set and the district attorney or law enforcement is entitled to contest the petition to seal.  These parties may file a written objection to the petition to seal or may appear at the hearing.  If the prosecutor or other parties do not contest the petition, it will be granted by the court.

If a petition to seal the records is granted, the interested parties will receive a notification from the court indicating that the records are sealed.  Once the records are sealed, it is forbidden to release these records to the public, although some governmental agencies may still be entitled access to the records.  If your criminal records are sealed, you are entitled to report that you have no criminal history in regards to those sealed records. 

Sealing criminal records may be vital when it comes to applying for jobs, educational possibilities, joining the armed services, or in the event that you are involved in the criminal system at some future date.  Sealing records can be a lengthy process, so you should not hesitate to seal those records which you are entitled to seal under the law.