Those convicted of a crime pay the price. There may be penalties like time in prison, parole, restitution, classes and other measures, as well as fines. Once all these demands are met (including parole), the individual can say that they paid their debt to society and, theoretically, move on with their life. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in the real world – those with a criminal record are often passed over for employment opportunities, admissions into a school program, housing, and lowers the chances of getting a loan with a reasonable interest rate. Luckily, former defendants may have their records expunged, which we discussed a few months ago, or sealed.
How does it work?
Sealing your records ensures that only law enforcement can see arrests and convictions. In other words, subsequent criminal sentencing will reflect the contents in your sealed record, but a school, landlord or employer will not have access to the information.
Not everyone can get their records sealed – it depends upon:
- The premise of the arrest
- What you were convicted for
- Your age at the time of the arrest
- Whether the case was dismissed or closed
The case cannot be sealed if it is not closed, which means the convicted serve their sentence, and there is a final disposition. Defendants can request an immediate seal if they were found not guilty – innocent people still have a record of their initial charges – but this is not done without asking. The state does not seal the records of certain crimes, but a 2019 law broadened the eligibility.
Easier than expungement
There are a lot of rules involved in sealing a criminal record, but it is still easier than expungement, which eliminates all records of the crime and only applies to those convicted as juveniles. Those with questions about sealing their records can often get answers by consulting with a criminal defense attorney. It costs money and takes some time, but the benefits far outweigh those drawbacks.