Having a criminal record can have lasting consequences that impact various aspects of a person’s life, from employment opportunities to housing and even personal relationships. However, Arkansas law provides individuals with the opportunity to seek expungement, allowing them to clear their criminal record under certain circumstances.
What exactly is expungement?
Expungement is the legal process of sealing a person’s criminal record. While expunging a criminal record does not completely erase it, it restricts access to most public records related to the offense.
- Arkansas allows individuals who fully completed their sentences, as imposed by the court, including probation or parole time and paying all fines and restitution owed.
- The state requires that a certain amount of time pass after the individual serves their sentence to qualify for expungement. The time frame varies depending on the nature of the offense.
- People applying for expungement must not be convicted of any new offenses during the waiting period.
Arkansas offers expungements for:
- Non-violent felonies
- Drug offenses
- Underage alcohol-related convictions
Initiating the process
Arkansas law requires that the individual petitioning the court for expungement file a petition with the court that handled their original conviction.
After filing the petition, the judge will set a hearing to review the request. The court will consider factors such as the nature of the offense and whether law enforcement or prosecutors object to the expungement before deciding.
Expunging a criminal record can provide several significant benefits. Individuals who have their records expunged typically see improved employment opportunities, housing opportunities, access to professional licenses if they need them, among other benefits.