Many states allow you to expunge, seal or otherwise “hide” or “destroy” your criminal record. Generally, if a criminal record is expunged or sealed, it’s as though the crime never occurred and you can legally say (to a potential employer, for example) that you were never charged or convicted of a crime.
State laws vary tremendously as to which conviction and arrest records can be expunged. See the articles below for details on the rules in your state, and on how to begin the expungement process.
If you are interested in sealing a juvenile record, refer to our article, Expunging or Sealing a Juvenile Court Record.
Expunging or Sealing an Adult Criminal Record
Learn about expungement and sealing of adult criminal records.
The Limits of Expunging Your Criminal Record
While the benefits of getting your record expunged are widespread, in certain situations, your criminal record lives on and will be accessible for specified purposes.
Pending Criminal Charges and A Criminal Record: Effect on Employment
An explanation of how a current pending criminal charge affects your record and employment possibility when applying for a job and your rights as an applicant.
Banning the Box: Cities, States, and Companies Bar Questions About Applicants’ Convictions
Many applicants are automatically rejected when they check the box that asks whether they have a criminal conviction. Are convictions always relevant to the applicant’s suitability for the job?
Released from Prison but Barred from the Ballot: Felons and Voting Rights
The Attorney General is among those pushing for abolition of ex-felon disenfranchisement laws.
Criminal Record Holding You Back? Learn How to Overcome These Obstacles
If your criminal record doesn’t qualify for expungement or sealing, don’t despair. You can take several steps to make it more likely that you’ll be hired.
Expunging federal convictions presents a challenge.
Sealing a Federal Adult Criminal Record
Federal judges in some federal circuits have broad, inherent powers to expunge conviction records.
Dismissing (or “Sealing”) a Federal Record for Drug Possession
Convictions for possessing small amounts of certain drugs may be dismissed.
Sealing a Federal Juvenile Drug Possession Record
Juveniles who possessed small amounts of certain drugs for the first time, who successfully completed probation, may be able to have their records expunged.
Presidential Clemency: Pardons, Commutations, and Reprieves
The president of the United States can grant pardons, commutations, and reprieves.