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Sealing Criminal Records

Past mistakes and offenses always seem to come to light at the most inopportune times. Prior criminal acts, regardless of conviction, create embarrassment and frustration when disclosed to others, including future employers and licensing agencies. Fortunately, in most cases criminal records can be permanently sealed.

Under Nevada law, once criminal records have been sealed, “[a]ll proceedings recounted in the record are deemed never to have occurred.” In fact, the law allows an individual whose records have been sealed to “lawfully advise prospective employers that they have had no criminal arrests and convictions with respect to the sealed events.”

However, certain statutory requirements must be met to have criminal records sealed. For example, most criminal convictions require a waiting period ranging from 2 to 15 years before they become eligible for sealing. Nevertheless, if the criminal charges were dismissed or the accused was acquitted, the record sealing process can usually commence immediately.

To seal criminal records in Nevada, one must obtain a SCOPE criminal history report from the applicable law enforcement agency, then submit a petition with an affidavit and a proposed court order to the district attorney and the court. A judge ultimately decides whether to approve the petition. If the judge approves the petition and signs the order, the records are sealed.

It is critical to prepare the petition correctly. If the judge denies the petition, the petitioner must wait two more years before filing another petition. Worse yet, a petitioner only has two chances to petition the court to seal his or her records, so if a judge denies the petition twice, the petitioner is forever barred from having the records sealed. Because denial of a petition has such severe consequences, it is important to handle the matter competently with the help of an experienced attorney.

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