A criminal record can be a bar to certain types of employment, licensing, holding public office, and even the right to vote. Most states allow for a process called expungement that will remove certain arrests or criminal convictions from the offender’s record.
Depending upon the laws of the state in which you live and the nature of the crime, you may be able to get an arrest or conviction sealed or erased from your legal record. After the expungement process is complete, you will not need to disclose the conviction on a job or school application, and in most instances no record of the arrest or conviction will show up during a public records inspection or background check commonly done by potential employers, landlords, and educational institutions.
An expunged arrest or conviction may not be completely erased, however, and ordinarily will remain an accessible part of a person's criminal record, accessible to certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is also known as a criminal record being "under seal." In some legal proceedings, an expunged conviction that is under seal may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.
In Arkansas, as long as there is no guilty verdict, all arrest records, petitions, orders, docket sheets, and any other documents relating to the case may be expunged. Under Arkansas Code Ann. §16-90-902, when a criminal record is expunged, it is deemed to never have occurred, and the individual may state that the arrest and conviction never happened and that no such criminal record exists. An expunged record will not typically show up on a criminal background check.
To obtain an expungement in Arkansas, a nonviolent felon may petition the court at any time after completion of a sentence or expiration of a suspension or probation. If eligible, an individual may file a Petition to Seal Records in the circuit or district court where the crime was committed.