Arkansas set up their Comprehensive Criminal Record Sealing Act in 2013, running through Sections 16-90-1401 to 1419. As one of the few states to actually point out in their law how difficult these types of statutes are nationwide, the whole point of this law was to make things easier for those arrested in Arkansas to clean their criminal records. The text and commentary are both from December 15, 2015. Please make sure everything is still accurate.
A few key points to remember:
While certain misdemeanors and felonies apply, there are some restrictions.
There are different time limits based on the type of charges that a petitioner wants sealed.
People who were not convicted, have received pardons, or been victims of human trafficking have a particular set of rules.
While we do our absolute best to make sure that our qualification form is completely accurate, no one other than an attorney licensed in Arkansas will know for sure whether you qualify. They will review these same rules as well as case-law related to this statute to come to their decision.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1401
This subchapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Comprehensive Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2013".
Commentary on Section 16-90-1401
This section establishes the name of this section of Arkansas' law.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1402
(a) The General Assembly recognizes that historically the laws of this state involving the procedure a person must follow to have his or her prior criminal history information sealed have been confusing, from the standpoint of both practicality and terminology.
(b) It is the intent of the General Assembly to provide in clear terms in what instances and, if applicable, how a person may attempt to have his or her criminal history information sealed.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1402
This section outlines why the legislature created this law. They point out the fact that the law prior to 2013 was confusing. This law was created to make it easy enough for an average person to seal their criminal history on their own.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1403
(a) This subchapter governs all proceedings involving the sealing of criminal records.
(b) Inconsistencies between this subchapter and any other sections within the Arkansas Code in existence January 1, 2014, are resolved in favor of this subchapter, except that this subchapter does not apply to:
(1) The Arkansas Drug Court Act, § 16-98-301 et seq.;
(2) Extended juvenile jurisdiction records under § 9-27-508, unless the records are considered adult criminal records under § 9-27-501 et seq; and
(3) The sealing of juvenile records.
(1) A court may hear a proceeding under this subchapter only if a uniform petition is initially filed by the petitioner.
(2) A court may only use a uniform order if the court decides to seal a criminal record under this subchapter.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1403
This is the section that describes what is covered under this chapter. First, it establishes the superiority of this section – any inconsistencies between this section and any others should be resolved in favor of this one. The only exceptions are the Arkansas Drug Court Act, extended juvenile jurisdiction records, and juvenile records.
In order to have a hearing to have an Arkansas criminal record sealed, the petition must be filed. That petition is an official form, called a uniform petition. The only way an order is official is if it is through a uniform order. By standardizing everything, everything is much easier for a judge as well as an applicant.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1404
As used in this subchapter:
(1) "Completion of a person's sentence" means that the person, after being found guilty:
(A) Paid his or her fine, court costs, or other monetary obligation as defined in § 16-13-701 in full, unless the obligation has been excused by the sentencing court;
(B) Served any time in county or regional jail, a Department of Community Correction facility, or a Department of Correction facility in full; and
(C) If applicable:
(i) Has been discharged from probation or parole;
(ii) Completed any suspended sentence;
(iii) Paid any court-ordered restitution;
(iv) Completed any court-ordered community service;
(v) Paid any driver's license suspension reinstatement fees, if a driver's license suspension reinstatement fee was assessed as a result of the person's arrest, plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or a finding of guilt for the offense;
(vi) Completed all other driver's license reinstatement requirements, if a driver's license suspension was imposed as a result of the person's arrest, plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or a finding of guilt for the offense; and
(vii) Completed any vocational or technical education or training program that was required as a condition of the person's parole or probation;
(A) Includes the following, after the final act of judgment:
(i) A plea of guilty or nolo contendere, unless entered pursuant to court-ordered probation described in subdivision (2)(B)(iv) of this section, by a person formally charged with an offense;
(ii) A finding of guilt, unless entered pursuant to court-ordered probation described in subdivision (2)(B)(iv) of this section, by a judge or jury after a trial;
(iii) A finding of guilt, unless entered pursuant to court-ordered probation described in subdivision (2)(B)(iv) of this section, after entry of a plea of nolo contendere;
(iv) A sentence of supervised probation on a felony charge;
(v) A suspended imposition of sentence, as defined in § 16-93-1202, with a fine;
(vi) A sentence under § 16-93-1201 et seq.;
(vii) A suspended sentence that is revocable and can subject the person to incarceration or a fine, or both; or
(viii) A finding of guilt of a person whose case proceeded under § 16-93-301 et seq., and who violated the terms and conditions of § 16-93-301 et seq.; and
(B) Does not include:
(i) An order nolle prosequi;
(ii) A suspended imposition of sentence, as defined in § 16-93-1202, with no fine;
(iii) An acquittal for any reason;
(iv) An order that the defendant enter a diversionary program that requires him or her to accomplish certain court-ordered objectives but that does not result in a finding of guilt if the program is successfully completed;
(v) A court-ordered probationary period under:
(a) The former § 5-64-413; or
(b) Section 16-93-301 et seq.;
(vi) The entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere without the court's making a finding of guilt or entering a judgment of guilt with the consent of the defendant or the resultant dismissal and discharge of the defendant as prescribed by § 16-93-301 et seq.;
(vii) The entry of a directed verdict by a court at trial; or
(viii) The dismissal of a charge either with or without prejudice;
(3) "Court" means a sentencing district court or sentencing circuit court, unless otherwise specifically identified;
(A) "Seal" means to expunge, remove, sequester, and treat as confidential the record or records in question according to the procedures established by this subchapter.
(B) "Seal" does not include the physical destruction of a record of a conviction unless this subchapter requires the physical destruction of the record of a conviction;
(5) "Sentence" means the outcome formally entered by a court upon a person in criminal proceedings;
(6) "Sex offense" means:
(A) The same as defined in § 12-12-903; and
(B) A felony offense repealed by Acts 2001, No. 1738;
(7) "Uniform order" means a uniform order to seal a record described in § 16-90-1414; and
(8) "Uniform petition" means a uniform petition to seal a record described in § 16-90-1414.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1402
This is the section that defines the important terms in this process. First and foremost, it defines what "completion of a person's sentence" is - paying off all fines, serving any necessary time, and completing any probation, parole, classes, or whatever other conidtions were established by the final order.
Secondly, it is important to know what is considered a conviction in Arkansas. A plea of guilty or nolo contendere, unless that plea was entered as a result of a completing a diversionary program is a unique verdict that isn’t often considered a conviction. Similarly, a finding of guilt, unless the finding was made after completing a diversionary program required by a judge or after a plea of nolo contendere, is a conviction. Other verdicts are listed as well.
An order of nolle prosequi, a suspended sentence with no fine, a not guilty, and completing a diversionary program successfully are instances where a verdict is not considered a conviction. Other examples include a finding of not guilty, entry of a directed verdict, dismissal, and other instances listed.
The most important definition for criminal record manage purposes is the definition of seal. While a record is expunged, removed, sequestered, and treated as if it is confidential, it is not actually physical destroyed.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1405
Eligibility to file a uniform petition to seal a misdemeanor offense or violation.
(a) A person is eligible to file a uniform petition under this subchapter to seal his or her record of a misdemeanor or violation sixty (60) days after:
(1) The completion of his or her sentence for the misdemeanor or violation, including full payment of restitution;
(2) Full payment of court costs;
(3) Full payment of driver's license suspension reinstatement fees, if a driver's license suspension reinstatement fee was assessed as a result of the person's arrest or conviction for the misdemeanor or violation; and
(4) The completion of all other driver's license reinstatement requirements, if a driver's license suspension was imposed as a result of the person's arrest or conviction for the misdemeanor or violation.
(b) There is not a limit to the number of times a person may file a uniform petition to seal his or her record of a misdemeanor or violation, except that the person may not file:
(1) A new uniform petition to seal one (1) of the following criminal offenses until after a period of five (5) years has elapsed since the completion of the person's sentence for the conviction:
(A) Negligent homicide, § 5-10-105, if it was a Class A misdemeanor;
(B) Battery in the third degree, § 5-13-203;
(C) Indecent exposure, § 5-14-112;
(D) Public sexual indecency, § 5-14-111;
(E) Sexual assault in the fourth degree, § 5-14-127;
(F) Domestic battering in the third degree, § 5-26-305; or
(G) A misdemeanor violation of § 5-65-103;
(2) A new uniform petition to seal a criminal offense listed in subdivisions (b)(1)(A) -- (G) of this section before one (1) year from the date of the order denying the previous uniform petition;
(3) A new uniform petition to seal any other misdemeanor or violation before ninety (90) days from the date of an order denying a uniform petition to seal the misdemeanor or violation;
(4) A new uniform petition to seal a misdemeanor or violation under this section if an appeal of a previous denial of a uniform petition to seal a misdemeanor or violation for the same misdemeanor or violation is still pending; or
(5) A new uniform petition to seal a misdemeanor or violation under this section if:
(A) The person was a holder of a commercial driver license or commercial learner's permit at the time the misdemeanor or violation was committed; and
(B) The misdemeanor or violation was a traffic offense, other than a parking violation, vehicle weight violation, or vehicle defect violation, committed in any type of motor vehicle.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a person is eligible to file a uniform petition to seal a misdemeanor or violation under this section even if his or her misdemeanor or violation occurred before January 1, 2014.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1405
Without a doubt, this is the most important section for managing a criminal record. It is the eligibility requirements for sealing a criminal record in Arkansas. First, a person must wait at least sixty days after either the completion of their sentence for a misdemeanor or other violation, including paying all fees and costs. Any charge qualifies and no one is limited in the number of applications they file, but any of the charges listed in (b)(1) require at least five years to pass before filing an application.
In the event an application to file a misdemeanor listed in (b)(1) is denied, a year needs to pass before filing a new application. Any other application to seal a misdemeanor or violation that is denied will require at least ninety days to pass before a new application is filed.
There is one exception, however. If the person filing was someone who holds a commercial driver license or a commercial learner’s permit at the time the misdemeanor or violation was committed and the charges were a traffic offense other than one of the ones listed in (b)(5)(B), then they cannot file an application to seal those charges.
As always, we are happy to see the last sub-section here – (c) makes this Act retroactive and applies to misdemeanors or violations that occurred before January 1, 2014.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1406
Felony convictions eligible for sealing.
(a) Unless prohibited under § 16-90-1408, a person may petition a court to seal a record of a conviction after five (5) years has elapsed since the completion of the person's sentence for:
(1) A Class C felony or Class D felony;
(2) An unclassified felony;
(3) An offense under § 5-64-401 et seq. that is a Class A felony or Class B felony;
(4) Solicitation to commit, attempt to commit, or conspiracy to commit the substantive offenses listed in subdivisions (a)(1)-(3) of this section; or
(5) A felony not involving violence committed while the person was less than eighteen (18) years of age.
(A) The petitioner can have no more than one (1) previous felony conviction.
(B) For the sole purpose of calculating the number of previous felony convictions under this section, all felony offenses that were committed as part of the same criminal episode and for which the person was convicted are a single conviction.
(2) The fact that a prior felony conviction has been previously sealed shall not prevent its counting as a prior conviction for the purposes of this subsection.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1406
For those with felonies, this is the most important section, as this outlines which felonies are eligible for sealing. Unless barred by Section 16-90-1408, the felonies that can be sealed in Arkansas are those that listed in this section. A petitioner only needs to wait for five years to pass after the completion of a person’s sentence.
However, one important caveat is that a person may not have more than one previous felony conviction. A silver lining to this, however, is that multiple felony convictions that were committed as part of one crime are considered as one conviction. Furthermore, a previously sealed felony will not count towards a person’s conviction count.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1407
Special procedures for sealing a controlled substance possession conviction.
A person may petition the court to seal a record of a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, § 5-64-419, or counterfeit substance, § 5-64-441, upon the completion of the person's sentence if, prior to sentencing:
(1) An intake officer appointed by the court, where applicable, determines that the person has a drug addiction and recommends the person as a candidate for residential drug treatment;
(2) The court places the person on probation and includes as part of the terms and conditions of the probation that:
(A) The person successfully complete a drug treatment program approved by the court; and
(B) The person remain drug-free until successful completion of probation; and
(3) The person successfully completes the terms and conditions of the probation.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1407
In the event a charge that a petitioner wants to seal is related to possession of drugs or counterfeit drugs, they need to go through a different procedure. Certain steps need to be taken place prior to sentencing. First, an intake officer, if applicable, must have determined the petitioner had a drug addiction and recommended them to a residential drug treatment program. Second, the petitioner must have been put on probation that required a drug treatment program to be successfully completed as well as have the petitioner register as being drug-free during their probation.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1408
Felony convictions ineligible for sealing.
(a) A record of a conviction of any of the following offenses is not eligible to be sealed under this subchapter:
(1) A Class Y felony, Class A felony, or Class B felony, except as provided in § 16-90-1406;
(2) Manslaughter, § 5-10-104;
(3) An unclassified felony if the maximum sentence of imprisonment for the unclassified felony is more than ten (10) years;
(4) A felony sex offense;
(5) A felony involving violence under § 5-4-501(d)(2); and
(6) A felony for which a person served any portion of his or her sentence as an inmate in the Department of Correction.
(1) A felony traffic offense committed in any type of motor vehicle if the person was a holder of a commercial learner's permit or commercial driver license at the time the felony offense was committed is not eligible for sealing under this subchapter.
(2) As used in this subsection, "traffic offense" does not include a parking violation, vehicle weight violation, or vehicle defect violation.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1408
This is an important section for people who have felonies that want to get them sealed. This section covers all the types of felony convictions that will not qualify for being sealed under Arkansas law.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1409
Sealing records of arrests.
(a) A person may petition a district court or circuit court to seal a record of a prior arrest if charges have not been filed by the prosecuting attorney within one (1) year of the date of the arrest.
(b) The petition shall be filed in the county in which the arrest was made.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1409
In the event someone was arrested, but never charged, they can petition the court in the county where they were arrested within one year of the date of their arrest. Remember - any interaction .
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1410
Sealing records of nolle prosequi, dismissed cases, or cases when the disposition is an acquittal.
(a) A person may petition to seal the records of a case in which there was for any reason:
(1) Entry of an order nolle prosequi upon motion of the prosecuting attorney after one (1) year has passed since the date of the entry of the order nolle prosequi;
(2) Entry of an order of dismissal;
(3) An acquittal, unless that acquittal was for reason of mental disease or defect under § 5-2-301 et seq.; or
(4) A decision by the prosecuting attorney not to file charges.
(b) The petition shall be filed in the court in which the order nolle prosequi or order of dismissal was entered.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1410
For other instances, there are different time limits. If a case was resolved through an order of nolle prosequi because of a motion by the prosecutor, it is required that one year pass before the petitioner files for a motion to seal their case. If there is an order of dismissal, an acquittal other than one for a reason of mental disease or defect, or because charges simply weren’t filed, a petition can be filed according to the minimum time lines instituted within this section. The petition has to be filed in the same county where that order was issued.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1411
Sealing of records for a pardoned person -- Pardons for youthful felony offenders.
(1) The Governor shall notify the court upon issuing a pardon, and the court shall issue an order sealing the record of a conviction of the person pardoned.
(2) The record of a conviction relating to the conviction of a person pardoned before July 15, 1991, shall be sealed upon the filing of a copy of the pardon with the court by the person.
(3) This section does not apply to a pardon issued for:
(A) Any offense in which the victim is a person under eighteen (18) years of age;
(B) A sex offense; or
(C) An offense resulting in death or serious physical injury.
(b)) A person shall have his or her record of a conviction sealed by the court if the person:
(1) Committed a felony in this state while under sixteen (16) years of age;
(2) Was convicted and given a suspended sentence;
(3) Received a pardon for the conviction; and
(4) Has not been convicted of another criminal offense.
(c) This section does not prevent a person from requesting that his or her criminal record be sealed under § 16-90-1405 or § 16-90-1406.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1411
Similarly, for those who were pardoned, there are different procedures they may qualify under as well. For youthful offenders that were pardoned, the Governor that issues the pardon is required to notify the court that the pardon was issued and order the court to seal the criminal records.
For pardons filed prior to July 15, 1991, then the petitioner need only to file a copy of the pardon with the court. However, this does not apply to pardons issued for those charges involving people under the ages of eighteen, sex offense, or offenses that resulted in death or serious physical injury.
If a person in Arkansas committed a felony while under 16, was given a suspended sentence, received a pardon, and was never convicted of another criminal offense, they will automatically qualify to have their record sealed. In the event a person had their charges pardoned, they can qualify under sections 16-90-1405 or 16-90-1406 as well, they are not restricted only to the requirements under this section.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1412
Sealing certain convictions for victims of human trafficking.
(a) As used in this section, "victim of human trafficking" means a person who has been subjected to trafficking of persons, § 5-18-103, or any former law of this state, law of another state, or federal law that is substantially similar.
(1) A person convicted of prostitution, § 5-70-102, may file a uniform petition to seal the conviction under this section if it was obtained as a result of the person's having been a victim of human trafficking.
(2) A uniform petition under this section may be filed at any time and may be filed for a conviction imposed at any time.
(c) The court shall grant the uniform petition under this section if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that:
(1) The petitioner was convicted of prostitution, § 5-70-102; and
(2) The conviction was obtained as a result of the petitioner's having been a victim of human trafficking.
(d) If the uniform petition under this section is granted, the court shall:
(1) Issue a uniform order to seal the conviction; and
(2) With respect to the conviction for prostitution, § 5-70-102, redact the petitioner's name from all records and files related to the petitioner's:
(C) Criminal investigation;
(D) Criminal charge;
(E) Adjudication of guilt;
(F) Criminal proceedings; and
(G) Probation for the offense.
(1) Official documentation by a federal, state, or local government agency verifying that at the time of the conviction for prostitution, § 5-70-102, the petitioner was a victim of human trafficking creates a presumption under this section that the person's prostitution conviction was obtained as a result of having been a victim of human trafficking.
(2) Documentation under this subsection is not required to grant a petition under this section.
(3) Documentation under this subsection may include without limitation:
(A) Certified records of federal or state court proceedings that demonstrate that the defendant was a victim of a trafficker charged with a trafficking offense under state law or the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, 22 U.S.C. § 7101 et seq., as it existed on January 1, 2013; or
(B) Certified records of "approval notices" or "law enforcement certifications" generated from federal immigration proceedings available to victims of human trafficking.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1412
Human trafficking victims have a special section because the Arkansas legislature realized not every criminal record is the same. Particularly, those who were convicted of prostitution charges and those who were convicted can file a petition at any time without regard for the time limits imposed by this section. For these types of situations, a petition will be automatically granted if a court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the prostitution conviction was obtained while the petition was a victim of human trafficking.
In any order granting the sealing of records under this provision, the petitioner’s name will be removed from the documents listed, making sure they are protected. Furthermore, if government documentation proves that the petitioner was a victim of human trafficking at the time of their conviction for prostitution, the presumption will be made that the petitioner qualifies. The documentation that qualifies are certified records from federal or state court, as well as federal immigration documents, but such documentation is not required to obtain an order sealing records under this chapter.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1413
Procedure for sealing of records.
(1) A person who is eligible to have a record sealed under this subchapter may file a uniform petition in the circuit court or district court in the county where the offense was committed and in which the person was convicted for the offense he or she is now petitioning to have sealed.
(2) Except as provided for in § 16-90-1405, if a person has previously petitioned the court for the sealing of a record and that petition was subsequently denied, the person may not file a uniform petition under this subchapter regarding that record until one (1) year has passed since the denial of the previous petition.
(A) A copy of the uniform petition shall be served upon the prosecuting attorney for the county in which the uniform petition is filed and the arresting agency, if the arresting agency is a named party, within three (3) days of the filing of the uniform petition.
(B) It is not necessary to make the arresting agency a party to the action.
(A) The prosecuting attorney may file a notice of opposition with the court for a petition seeking to seal a record of an eligible misdemeanor conviction or violation setting forth reasons for the opposition to the sealing within thirty (30) days after receipt of the uniform petition or after the uniform petition is filed, whichever is the later date.
(i) If notice of opposition is not filed, the court may grant the uniform petition.
(ii) If notice of opposition is filed, the court shall set the matter for a hearing if the record for which the uniform petition was filed is eligible for sealing under this subchapter unless the prosecuting attorney consents to allow the court to decide the case solely on the pleadings.
(A) The prosecuting attorney may file a notice of opposition with the court for a petition seeking to seal a record of an eligible felony conviction setting forth reasons for the opposition to the sealing.
(B) A court may not sign a uniform order sealing an eligible felony conviction without a hearing.
(1) The court may not grant the uniform petition until ninety (90) days have passed since the uniform petition was served on the prosecuting attorney, although the court may deny the uniform petition at any time.
(2) If the court determines that the record shall be sealed under the standards of § 16-90-1415, the uniform order described in § 16-90-1414 shall be entered and filed with the circuit court clerk or district court clerk, as applicable.
(1) A court clerk with whom a uniform order is filed shall certify copies of the uniform order to the prosecuting attorney who filed the underlying charges, the arresting agency, the Arkansas Crime Information Center, and, if applicable, any district court where the person appeared before the transfer or appeal of the case to circuit court.
(2) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall only accept certified copies of the uniform orders filed in circuit court.
(1) The circuit court clerk, the district court clerk, and, if applicable, the district court clerk where the person appeared before the transfer or appeal of the case to circuit court shall:
(A) Remove all petitions, orders, docket sheets, receipts, and documents relating to the record;
(B) Place the records described in subdivision (e)(1)(A) of this section in a file; and
(C) Sequester the records described in subdivision (e)(1)(A) of this section in a separate and confidential holding area within the clerk's office.
(A) A docket sheet shall be prepared to replace the sealed docket sheet.
(B) The replacement docket sheet shall contain the docket number, a statement that the record has been sealed, and the date that the order to seal the record was issued.
(3) All indices to the file of the person with a sealed record shall be maintained in a manner to prevent general access to the identification of the person.
(f) The prosecuting attorney shall:
(1) Remove the entire case file and documents or other items related to the record;
(2) Place the records described in subdivision (e)(1)(A) of this section in a file; and
(3) Sequester the records described in subdivision (e)(1)(A) of this section in a confidential holding area within his or her office.
(g) The arresting agency shall:
(1) Remove its entire record file and documents or other items relating to the record, including any evidence still in the arresting agency's possession;
(2) Place the records described in subdivision (e)(1)(A) of this section in a file; and
(3) Sequester the records described in subdivision (e)(1)(A) of this section in a confidential holding area within the arresting agency.
(h) Upon notification of a uniform order, all circuit clerks, district clerks, arresting agencies, and other criminal justice agencies maintaining records in a computer-generated database shall either segregate the entire record, including receipts, into a separate file or ensure by other electronic means that the sealed record shall not be available for general access unless otherwise authorized by law.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1413
This is the section that outlines the way in which the sealing procedure works in Arkansas. Someone who qualifies to seal their record must file their petition in the court located in the county where the offense was committed and where the conviction was handed down. Unless other sections of this law change the timeline, a petitioner who has their application denied has to wait at least one year before filing a new petition.
For any petition that is filed, a copy needs to be sent to the prosecutor in that county within three days of filing the petition. The arresting agency doesn’t need to be named as a party on the petition. Once the prosecutor receives notice of the petition, they have thirty days to file a notice of opposition. If no such notice is filed, then the court can grant the petition on its own. If a petition is filed, then a hearing needs to be held before any order can be granted. If a prosecutor files a notice of objection, they must list the reasons why they oppose the petition.
Regardless of whether a prosecutor files an objection or not, a Judge must wait at least ninety days before ordering a criminal record sealed.
The clerk in charge of the court where the petition is filed will be required to certify copies to the prosecutor, the arresting agency, the Arkansas Crime Information Center, and any other district court that the petitioner appeared in front of, like those in counties that had to extradite or book the petitioner before they were finally transferred to the county where they were charged. Furthermore, a standard copy of the petition must be filed.
Once an order sealing records has been filed, every court where documents or records were filed must be sealed according to this section. Furthermore, a new docket sheet should be created, replacing the one that was sealed, that only contains the docket number of the case that was sealed and a statement indicating the case was sealed. Similarly, the prosecutor, arresting agency, and every other government agency involved must get rid of their records according to this section.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1414
Uniform petition and uniform order to seal records.
(1) The Arkansas Crime Information Center shall adopt and provide the following to be used by a petitioner and any circuit court or district court in this state:
(A) A uniform petition to seal records; and
(B) A uniform order to seal records.
(2) An order to seal records covered by this subchapter shall not be effective unless the uniform order is entered.
(A) The uniform petition shall include a statement verified under oath indicating whether the petitioner has felony charges pending in any state or federal court and the status of the pending felony charges as well as whether the person is required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act of 1997, § 12-12-901 et seq.
(B) The uniform petition also shall include a statement that the information contained in the petition is true and correct to the best of the petitioner's knowledge.
(4) The uniform order shall contain, at a minimum, the following data:
(A) The person's full name, race, gender, and date of birth;
(B) The person's full name at the time of arrest and adjudication of guilt, if applicable, if different from the person's current name;
(C) The offense for which the person was adjudicated guilty and the date of the disposition, if applicable;
(D) The identity of the court;
(E) The provision under this subchapter that provides for sealing of the record, if applicable;
(F) The specific records to be sealed;
(G) The arrest tracking number;
(H) The system identification (SID) number; and
(I) The Federal Bureau of Investigation number, if known.
(1) If a record for the charges of the offense does not exist at the center, a record shall be established before the uniform order becomes effective.
(2) When a record does exist in the center, the petitioner and the original arresting agency shall submit fingerprint cards on the petitioner under § 12-12-1006 and procedures established by the center.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1414
This section states what is required from the uniform and standardized petion and order required to seal a criminal record in Arkansas. In the event those records do not exist, the petitioner and the agency that arrested the petitioner will submit a fingerprint card in lieu of those records.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1415
Burden of proof - Standard of review.
(a) For a uniform petition filed under § 16-90-1405, unless the circuit court or district court is presented with and finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that a misdemeanor or violation conviction should not be sealed under this subchapter, the circuit court or district court shall seal the misdemeanor or violation conviction for a person after the person files a petition as described in this section.
(1) A uniform petition filed under § 16-90-1406 may be granted if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that doing so would further the interests of justice, considering the following factors:
(A) Whether the person appears likely to reoffend;
(B) The person's other criminal history;
(C) The existence of any pending charges or criminal investigations involving the person;
(D) Input from the victim of the offense for which the person was convicted, if applicable; and
(E) Any other information provided by the state that would cause a reasonable person to consider the person a further threat to society.
(2) The factors listed in subdivision (b)(1) of this section are not exclusive.
(c) A uniform petition filed under § 16-90-1407 may be granted if the court finds that doing so is in the best interest of the petitioner and the state.
(d) A uniform petition filed under § 16-90-1409 or § 16-90-1410 shall be granted unless the state shows by a preponderance of the evidence that doing so would:
(1) Place the public at risk; or
(2) Not further the interests of justice.
(e) A uniform petition filed under § 16-90-1411 shall be granted if the court finds that the requirements of § 16-90-1411 are met.
(1) An appeal of the grant or denial of the uniform petition to seal may be taken by either party.
(2) An appeal from the district court shall be taken to the circuit court, which shall review the case de novo.
(3) An appeal from the circuit court shall be taken as provided by Supreme Court rule, and the appellate court shall review the case using an abuse of discretion standard.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1415
This is the section that outlines when a court can reject a petition. Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that a petition should be granted, the court is required to issue the order. The factors to be considered are listed in this section, but they are not the only factors a judge can consider.
If a judge finds that granting the petition is in the best interest of Arkansas, that there is no risk to the public, that the interests of justice are furthered, or the requirements set forth under section 16-90-1411 are met.
Another right granted by this section is the right to appeal a decision, and it is afforded to both sides – the prosecutor and the petitioner. It will be reviewed de novo, which means it will be looked at independent of any other factors. The rules under which an appeal may be taken are provided by the Supreme Court and an abuse of discretion standard will be applied to all appeals.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1416
Release of sealed records.
(a) The custodian of a sealed record shall not disclose the existence of the sealed record or release the sealed record except when requested by:
(1) The person whose record was sealed or the person's attorney when authorized in writing by the person;
(2) A criminal justice agency, as defined in § 12-12-1001, and the request is accompanied by a statement that the request is being made in conjunction with:
(A) An application for employment with the criminal justice agency by the person whose record has been sealed; or
(B) A criminal background check under the Polygraph Examiners Licensing Act, § 17-39-101 et seq., or the Private Security Agency, Private Investigator, and School Security Licensing and Credentialing Act, § 17-40-101 et seq.;
(3) A court, upon a showing of:
(A) A subsequent adjudication of guilt of the person whose record has been sealed; or
(B) Another good reason shown to be in the interests of justice;
(4) A prosecuting attorney, and the request is accompanied by a statement that the request is being made for a criminal justice purpose; or
(5) The Arkansas Crime Information Center.
(1) As used in this section, "custodian" does not mean the Arkansas Crime Information Center.
(2) Access to data maintained by the center shall be governed by § 12-12-1001 et seq.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1416
This is the section that sets up the rules behind keeping records that are sealed and when and how they can be released to the public. They can be done if the person who had their records sealed authorizes the release in writing, a criminal justice agency makes a request in conjunction with an application for employment or in conjunction with a criminal background check in relation to one of the licenses listed.
Courts can also release the records if the petitioner is found guilty of another charge or because the interests of justice require the release. Furthermore, a prosecutor can request the release as can the Arkansas Crime Information Center.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1417
Release of sealed records.
(1) A person whose record has been sealed under this subchapter shall have all privileges and rights restored, and the record that has been sealed shall not affect any of his or her civil rights or liberties unless otherwise specifically provided by law.
(2) A person who wants to reacquire the right to vote removed from him or her as the result of a felony conviction must follow the procedures in Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 51, § 11.
(3) The effect of this subchapter does not reconfer the right to carry a firearm if that right was removed as the result of a felony conviction.
(1) Upon the entry of the uniform order, the person's underlying conduct shall be deemed as a matter of law never to have occurred, and the person may state that the underlying conduct did not occur and that a record of the person that was sealed does not exist.
(2) This subchapter does not prevent the use of a prior conviction otherwise sealed under this subchapter for the following purposes:
(A) Any criminal proceeding for any purpose not otherwise prohibited by law;
(B) Determination of offender status under the former § 5-64-413;
(C) Habitual offender status, § 5-4-501 et seq.;
(D) Impeachment upon cross-examination as dictated by the Arkansas Rules of Evidence; or
(E) Any disclosure mandated by Rule 17, 18, or 19 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1417
This section outlines what happens when you seal your record in Arkansas. All your privileges and rights will be restored, but the right to vote that was removed for a felony must be restored through the procedures established by the Arkansas Constitution. One right that will not be restored is the right to carry a firearm in the event of a felony conviction.
However, despite the restoration of only some right for ex-felons versus all rights for those convicted of misdemeanors, anyone who has their record sealed can act as if it never occurred. So if a successful petitioner is asked if they have ever been convicted, they can say no. This does not apply to using that conviction for the purposes listed in this section.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1418
Uniform petition and uniform order - Creation.
The Arkansas Crime Information Center shall develop and draft the form to be used for the uniform petition and uniform order under this subchapter.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1418
This section gives the right to develop the uniform petition and order to he Arkansas Crime Information Center.
Arkansas Code Annotated 16-90-1419
(a) The circuit clerk or district court clerk shall collect a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) for filing the uniform petition unless the petitioner is indigent and the fee is waived under Rule 72 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.
(b) The circuit clerk or district court clerk shall remit:
(1) One-half (1/2) of the fee by the tenth day of each month to the Administration of Justice Funds Section of the Office of Administrative Services of the Department of Finance and Administration on a form provided by that office for deposit into the State Administration of Justice Fund; and
(2) The remaining one-half (1/2) of the fee as follows:
(A) If collected in circuit court, to the county treasurer to be deposited into the county general fund by the tenth day of each month;
(B) If collected in district court, to the treasury of each political subdivision that contributes to the expenses of the district court based on the percentage of the expenses contributed by the political subdivision by the tenth day of each month; or
(C) In a district court funded solely by the county, to the county treasurer of the county in which the district court is located to be deposited into the county general fund by the tenth day of each month.
Commentary on Section 16-90-1419
This section establishes the $50 fee for any petition to seal a record in Arkansas while also outlining who gets what out of that fee. If a petitioner cannot afford it, they can file an application to have them declared indigent and have the fee waived.
Once you are ready, these are the agencies you need to contact: