The 3 Most Important Things To Understand About Record Sealing in Nevada
October 21, 2020
Nevada is officially a state of “second chances.” In fact, the Nevada legislature passed a law in 2017 (NRS 179.2405), declaring “that the public policy of this State is to favor the giving of second chances to offenders who are rehabilitated and the sealing of the records of such persons.”
What does this mean in practical terms? It means that in certain circumstances you can have your state criminal records “sealed” as if you never had a record in the first place. Once sealed, your prior state criminal record will no longer appear in criminal databases subject to private investigators and you can truthfully answer “no” if asked whether you have a criminal record.
At The Vegas Lawyers, we handle record sealing on a routine basis. As a paralegal for the firm, I am frequently asked questions about the process by potential clients. Although I am not a lawyer and nothing in this blog should be taken as legal advice, I do have some observations to share as the paralegal of a busy law practice that might help answer some common questions about the process of sealing records. Basically, there are 3 main things to know.
SEALING CRIMINAL RECORDS IN NEVADA IS A LENGTHY PROCESS AND SUBJECT TO THE DISCRETION OF A JUDGE
The first thing to understand at the outset is that sealing records in Nevada doesn’t just happen overnight. Depending upon the type of criminal history one might have, there is a waiting period before you can even apply for record sealing. For example, if you were charged and convicted of a Category A felony, such as a crime of violence, it takes 10 years after you complete your sentence and/or probation or parole before you can even request to seal your records. For less serious crimes, like Category E felonies and Gross Misdemeanors, you have to wait only 2 years after your sentence and/or probation or parole ends before you can request to seal a record.
Once you finish your sentence and become eligible to seal your records, you have to comply with a number of steps, including submitting your records to the District Attorney’s (“DA”) Office for approval. Even if the DA’s Office agrees that you’re eligible for having your records sealed, a Nevada judge must still approve the request. The judge has the ultimate discretion to deny a request to seal a state criminal record even if the person making the request is otherwise eligible for relief. In other words, nothing is guaranteed and a judge always has final say on the matter.
As mentioned earlier, record sealing is not an immediate process. Based upon my experience, it can take anywhere between 6-12 months to process a request to seal criminal records. With this in mind, anyone wishing to have his or her state criminal record sealed must be patient and be prepared for a lengthy bureaucratic process.
YOU SHOULD HAVE A LAWYER ASSIST YOU
Many people mistakenly believe that record sealing is a straightforward and easy process. I am here to tell you that it’s not. First, in order to seal records, you have to request records from all applicable law enforcement agencies you might have been arrested by. After that, you have to have an application submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for their review. This application will require a number of different forms.
If those forms aren’t properly completed, the application will be rejected. Only after the DA has reviewed and approved can a person then apply to a Nevada District Court Judge to have his or her record sealed. The Judge has the discretion to deny the request to seal records, even if the DA’s Office is onboard with your request. Does any of this sound straightforward or easy to you?
Most people choose not to cut their own hair or operate on themselves, leaving those tasks to professionals. When dealing with your legal rights, the same attitude and approach should be taken. Why chance having your application to seal your criminal records rejected when you can have the peace of mind knowing a law firm like The Vegas Lawyers, which handles these types of requests on a routine basis, can help you get it right the first time. At The Vegas Lawyers, we don’t just help put together the best possible application for you, we make sure it is compelling and has the best possible chance of being accepted.
SOME CRIMES CAN NEVER BE SEALED
Perhaps the biggest myth that exists about sealing records is that it applies to all crimes. Not true. Under Nevada law, crimes against children, sexual offenses and felony DUIs cannot be sealed. If you were dishonorably discharged from probation, even if the crime for which you were serving a sentence is subject to sealing, you can’t apply for record sealing because of the dishonorable discharge.
In addition to knowing what crimes cannot be sealed, it’s also important to understand that record sealing only applies to Nevada crimes. If you have a federal criminal record, that cannot be sealed and is not subject to the state law on record sealing. Also, its important to understand that government authorities, especially federal law enforcement, will always have access to your sealed records. When you think of record sealing you should understand that what’s being sealed is information accessible to private investigators, employers and other private parties. The government will always be able to access your criminal record.
The purpose behind the record sealing law is good and well intentioned. People make mistakes in life and should have an opportunity at a second chance. Getting records sealed is not easy but with the right legal team in your corner, it is achievable.
Author: Arelice Parra
Arelice Parra is an experienced and knowledgeable paralegal. She has a talented mind for assisting in solving legal problems. She is a valued member of The Vegas Lawyers.