Expunging or Sealing an Adult Criminal Record

A criminal record can create difficult downstream consequences whether you (or your child) was arrested or convicted (or both). For example, employers and landlords commonly ask job applicants and apartment seekers whether they have ever been convicted of (or perhaps even arrested for) a criminal offense. Employers might not hire -- and landlords might not rent to -- people who answer "yes" to these questions. The good news is that, in some cases, you may be able to get an arrest or conviction expunged from your record. Read on to learn more about the expungement process.

What is Expungement

Expungement refers to the process of sealing arrest and conviction records. Virtually every state has enacted laws that allow people to expunge arrests and convictions from their records. Though the details can vary from one state to the next, most states' laws provide that once an arrest or conviction has been expunged, it need not be disclosed, including to potential employers or landlords. For example, assume that Joe was convicted of petty theft and later had the conviction expunged. This was Joe's only brush with the criminal justice system. If Joe applies for a job and the application asks, "Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?" Joe can honestly answer, "No."

There are three laws used in expungement:

  1. The first, PC § 1203.4, is used to expunge cases in which probation was part of the sentence.
  2. The second, PC § 1203.4a, is used expunge cases in which there was no probation.
  3. The third, PC § 17, is used to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, which can then be dismissed. Felonies meeting the criteria under PC § 17 are often called "wobblers," meaning they could be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.

If you received a state prison term as your sentence, or were convicted of a felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor, you will need to file paperwork for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, rather than a Petition and Order for Dismissal.

Below you will find state-specific information on criminal records and expungement (where available online), from sources such as state judiciaries, attorneys general, and state police agencies.



  • Background Check System(Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center)


  • Criminal Records FAQs(Alaska Department of Public Safety)
  • Request to Seal Criminal Justice Information [PDF file}(Alaska Department of Public Safety)


  • Criminal History Records(State of Arizona - Department of Public Safety)
  • Criminal History FAQs(State of Arizona - Department of Public Safety)


  • Criminal Background Check(Arkansas State Police)


  • Clean Up Your Criminal Record(California Courts Self-Help Center)
  • Petition and Order for Expungement [PDF file](California Courts Self-Help Center)


  • Forms: Sealing of Criminal Records(Colorado Judicial Branch)


  • Connecticut Law About Criminal Records(Connecticut Judicial Branch)
  • Erasure of Criminal Records (CT Statute)(Connecticut General Statutes)


  • Expungement of Criminal Records(Delaware Code)

District of Columbia

  • Sealing and Expungement of Records(Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia)
  • Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006 [PDF file]


  • Seal and Expunge Process(Florida Department of Law Enforcement)
  • Obtaining Criminal History Information(Florida Department of Law Enforcement)


  • Obtaining Criminal History Record Information(Georgia Bureau of Investigation)


  • Expungements(Hawaii Attorney General)


  • Criminal History Information(Idaho State Police)


  • Expungement Information(Office of the State Appellate Defender )
  • Expungement: General Guidelines [PDF file](Illinois Attorney General)


  • Limited Criminal History Search(Indiana State Police)


  • Criminal History Records(Iowa Department of Public Safety)


  • Criminal History Record Check(Kansas Bureau of Investigation)
  • Frequent Questions: Criminal History(Kansas Bureau of Investigation)


  • Background Check Forms(Kentucky State Police)


  • Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information(Louisiana State Police)


  • Criminal History Records Requests(Maine Courts)


  • Expungement(District Court of Maryland)


  • Requests to Seal Files(General Laws of Massachusetts Ch. 276:100A)
  • Sealing, Expungements, and Pardons(Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries)


  • Getting an Adult Criminal Conviction Removed(Michigan Courts)


  • What is Criminal Expungement?(Minnesota Judicial Branch)
  • Forms: Expungement of a Criminal Record(Minnesota Judicial Branch)


  • Expunction (MS Statute)


  • Petition for Expungement of Arrest Records [PDF file](Missouri Courts)


  • Background Checks(Montana Department of Justice)


  • How to find criminal history reports in Nebraska


  • Sealing Records After Conviction, etc.(Nevada Revised Statutes)
  • Sealing Nevada Criminal History Records [PDF file](State of Nevada)

New Hampshire

  • Criminal Records FAQs(New Hampshire Department of Safety)

New Jersey

  • How to Expunge Your Criminal Record [PDF file](New Jersey Judiciary)

New Mexico

  • New Mexico State Central Repository for Criminal History(New Mexico Department of Public Safety)

New York

  • Personal Criminal History Record Review Program(New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services)

North Carolina

  • North Carolina Offender Information(North Carolina Department of Correction)

North Dakota

  • Criminal History Record Information(North Dakota Attorney General)


· Criminal Justice Information System(Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services)


  • Expungement Questions(Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation)
  • Criminal History FAQs(Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation)


  • How Do I Clear My Juvenile or Criminal Record?(Oregon Courts)
  • Clearing Your Record(Oregon State Bar )


  • Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History(State of Pennsylvania)

Rhode Island

  • Criminal Information Search(Judiciary of Rhode Island)

South Carolina

  • State Criminal Records Check(State of South Carolina)

South Dakota

  • Computerized Criminal History System(South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation)


  • Order for the Expungement of Criminal Offender Record [PDF file](Tennessee Supreme Court)


  • Crime Records Service(Texas Department of Public Safety)


  • Expunging a Record(Utah Courts)


  • Expungement-Sealing-Pardon Information(Vermont Criminal Information Center)


  • Instructions for Petition for Expungement [PDF file](Virginia Courts)


  • Criminal History Records(Washington State Patrol)

West Virginia

  • Expungement of certain criminal convictions; procedures; effect(WV Statute)
  • Expungement of criminal record upon full and unconditional pardon(WV Statute)
  • Petition for Expungement of Criminal Records[PDF file]


  • Pardons, Etc.[includes links to expungement information](Wisconsin State Law Library)


  • Criminal History Checks(Wyoming Attorney General)

Reference: www.nolo.com, http://www.saclaw.org, http://criminal.findlaw.com

Contact Information

Record Expungement Attorney
3460 Wilshire Blvd #410
Los Angeles, CA 90010

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