What Is Record Sealing?

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    Record sealing is a legal process that restricts access to certain court records, making them unavailable for public viewing, and is further defined at Cornell Law School. While it doesn’t erase the record entirely, it essentially places it under a legal lock and key. This means that while the record still exists, it can only be accessed under specific circumstances and by certain authorized parties. For individuals who have old arrests or convictions, record sealing can be a crucial step toward getting their lives back on track.

    Difference Between Record Sealing and Expungement

    Often, record sealing is confused with expungement, but there are key differences between the two. Expungement in California is so records are not used against you. In contrast, record sealing in California is to seal records that resulted in no charges filed, charges dismissed, or found not guilty. Record sealing in Nevada is for convictions, however, expungement is not available in Nevada.

    Why Consider Record Sealing?

    There are numerous advantages to sealing a record. One of the most significant benefits is the enhancement of future job prospects. Many employers conduct background checks as part of their hiring processes. A publicly accessible record of a past conviction can hamper your chances of securing employment. However, a sealed record means that potential employers will not see the past conviction on background checks, leveling the playing field for those looking for a fresh start in their professional lives.

    Additionally, sealed records can help with securing housing, obtaining professional licenses, and even improving personal relationships. The process can also provide a sense of closure and personal redemption, allowing individuals to move forward without the constant shadow of past mistakes.

    How Does Record Sealing Work?

    The process of sealing a record varies by jurisdiction, but generally follows similar steps:

    • Eligibility Check: The first step is determining whether your record is eligible for sealing. Certain types of offenses may not be eligible, so it’s important to consult with legal experts or local laws to verify your eligibility.
    • Filing a Petition: Once eligibility is confirmed, the next step involves filing a formal petition to have the record sealed. This typically includes providing specific details about the case and reasons for requesting the sealing.
    • Notification: The relevant parties, which could include the district attorney and the arresting agency, must be notified about your petition.
    • Court Hearing: A judge will review the petition and any objections submitted by the relevant parties. You may be required to attend a court hearing to present your case.
    • Judge’s Decision: After considering the evidence and any objections, the judge will make a decision. If the judge grants your petition, the record will be officially sealed.

    Things to Keep in Mind

    While record sealing prevents most people from seeing your record, keep in mind that certain government agencies may still have access. Additionally, sealed records can potentially be reopened under specific circumstances, such as new evidence coming to light.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What is the main benefit of sealing a criminal record?
      • The primary benefit of sealing a criminal record is that it restricts public access, which can significantly enhance job prospects, housing opportunities, and overall personal and professional reputation.
    • How do I know if my record is eligible for sealing?
      • Eligibility for record sealing depends on various factors, including the type of offense and the jurisdiction’s specific laws. Consulting with legal experts or examining local statutes can help determine if your record qualifies for sealing.
    • How long does the record sealing process typically take?
      • The duration for sealing a record can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specifics of the case. Generally, it can take several months from filing the petition to the court’s final decision.
    • Do I need a lawyer to seal my record, or can I do it myself?
      • While it’s possible to petition for record sealing on your own, having a lawyer can greatly improve your chances of success. Legal professionals can guide you through the process, help with paperwork, and represent you in court if necessary.

    A Powerful Tool

    At ProSe Legal Service, we believe in second chances. Record sealing is a powerful tool that can help individuals move beyond their past and embrace new opportunities. While the process might seem daunting, assistance from experienced legal professionals can make a significant difference.

    For more information on how we can assist your legal document matters, today or call (909) 497-1349 to schedule your next appointment with our team of professional LDAs or LDPs!