Expungement, Pardons, and Sealed Records

After being charged with a DUI in the United States, not all individuals are able to get a conditional discharge sentence, which does not result in a conviction.  Having a DUI conviction on a criminal record can cause a number of problems for an individual, including difficulty getting jobs and criminal inadmissibility to Canada.

For individuals with a DUI conviction, there are certain options that will allow for a person to have their criminal record permanently erased, which would resolve the problem of inadmissibility to Canada.  This procedure is called expungement, and the majority of US States have some sort of expungement process.  When a person is granted an expungement of their record, the record of their conviction is sealed and the conviction is essentially deemed not to exist.  After your record has been expunged, there is no obligation to disclose the conviction to potential employers and you can honestly answer “no” when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime.

The laws governing expungement procedures in each state vary considerably.  Some states do not allow for DUI convictions to be expunged, and others do not allow expungements for any crime.  To learn about the opportunities to expunge DUIs in your state, consult the state descriptions below courtesy of the Collateral Consequences Resource Center. Their full report may be found here.

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming

Alabama

Pardon policy & practice: Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power except in capital cases; board must make annual report to governor. Eligibility upon completion of sentence. Simple form application filed with the local probation office is “intended to facilitate application by individuals who lack formal education.” Federal and out-of-state offenders may apply. Public hearing required, with reasons given; separate paper procedure for restoration of rights. Pardon process takes about one year. 500 full pardons each year, plus more than 2000 rights restorations.

Judicial expungement & sealing: No authority to expunge or seal adult convictions. Records of most delinquency adjudications sealed two years after final discharge.
Expungement of non-conviction records of non-violent felony and misdemeanor charges, including cases where charges were dismissed after successful completion of a drug court program, mental health court program, diversion program or veteran’s court program. There is an administrative fee of $300, and if the prosecutor or victim object a hearing shall be held. Proceedings expunged “shall be deemed never to have occurred,” except that they must be disclosed to any government regulatory or licensing agency, any utility and its agents and affiliates, or any bank or other financial institution.

Alaska

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides; must consult parole board, but board’s advice not binding. No public hearing; parole board staff investigates, consults with DA and court, and prepares confidential recommendation to governor. Only three pardons since 1995. The clemency program has been “under review” and not functioning since 2009.

Judicial expungement & sealing: No provision for expungement of adult convictions. Most juvenile records sealed within 30 days of 18th birthday, or five years after completion of sentence if charged as an adult.
Deferred sentencing and set-aside for certain offenses does not include expungement, but a 2016 law prohibits the state from publishing online the records of such cases. Non-conviction records are generally unavailable to the public without the consent of the subject of the record. However, no sealing of non conviction records unless mistaken identity or false accusation proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Arizona

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides but may not act without affirmative recommendation of clemency board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature. Public hearing; publication of board recommendation to governor, with reasons. Pardon relieves legal consequences of conviction, but conviction must still be reported. Pardons increasingly rare since 1990; Gov. Brewer issued 12 pardons in her six years in office, all in her last month in office. Governor Doug Ducey has issued no pardons to date.

Judicial expungement & sealing: “Set-aside” available from the sentencing court to state offenders upon discharge for all but violent and sex offenses; relieves collateral consequences, but conviction must be disclosed and serves as predicate offense. Juvenile adjudications may be set aside upon reaching 18 years of age and discharge from sentence, except for serious violent offenses; remain predicate offense.
Non-conviction records may not be sealed or expunged, but may be amended to note that a person has been cleared of any arrests or indictments that did not lead to conviction.

Arkansas

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides, but must consult parole board, whose recommendation is not binding; governor must report to legislature on all grants, with reasons. Board and governor must each give 30 days’ public notice of intention to recommend or grant, respectively, with reasons. Relieves legal disabilities and is grounds for automatic expungement; pardoned conviction may not serve as predicate or to enhance sentence. Firearms rights must be restored separately. Pardons issued regularly, about 100 each year.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Minor felonies and drug convictions eligible for sealing after five years; misdemeanors and certain drug convictions after completion of sentence (presumption in favor of sealing); prostitution convictions as a result of being a victim of human trafficking eligible for sealing at any time (mandatory if found to be human trafficking victim). Serious violent and sexual offenses ineligible, as are motor vehicle violations committed by holder of a commercial driver’s license. Deferred adjudication for first-time offenders may result in sealing (serious violent offenses and certain sex offenses ineligible).
Non-conviction records, including cases where charges have been dismissed, “shall” be sealed by sentencing court unless there is a public safety risk.

Expungement available in only two situations: where non-violent felony committed before the age of 18, and after completion of drug court

California

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides with optional consultation of parole board; for recidivists, board must be consulted and supreme court justices must recommend. Judicial Certificate of Rehabilitation, first step in pardon process, available to residents after 10 years. Pardon restores civil rights and removes occupational bars but does not expunge record; firearms rights restored separately. Pardons relatively frequent under Governor Brown.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Courts may set aside convictions for probationers, misdemeanants, and minor felony offenders sentenced to county jail, except certain driving restrictions. Set-aside does not seal record, but restores rights and removes disabilities, and has other employment-related benefits. Conviction may still be used as predicate offense and must be disclosed in certain contexts. Certain minor felonies may be reduced to misdemeanors and become eligible for set aside, including felonies for which sentencing deferred.

No expungement or sealing of conviction records except for certain under-age misdemeanants and most juvenile adjudications after five years (if found to be rehabilitated and no subsequent convictions of felony or crime of moral turpitude). Court may, with concurrence of prosecuting attorney, order nonconviction records sealed and destroyed. Eligible juvenile misdemeanor arrest records must be sealed upon request. Non-conviction records may be sealed and destroyed with the concurrence of the prosecuting attorney. Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) available to state law offenders from court in county of residence after waiting period (generally 10 years) and satisfaction of other statutory criteria. COR relieves certain licensing restrictions as well as obligation to register as sex offender, and serves as first step in the pardon process.

***In California, expungement does not remove inadmissibility to Canada. You must still disclose the expungement to the Canadian government.***

Colorado

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides with non-statutory advisory scheme; must report pardons to legislature, with reasons. No eligibility restrictions. No public hearing; governor must seek views of corrections authorities, DA, and judge. Pardon restores civil rights and firearms rights. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Sealing of drug conviction records, with eligibility period ranging from three years for petty offenses to ten years for more serious felonies; sealing of petty offenses and violations after 3-year waiting period. Minor drug felonies may be vacated and reduced to misdemeanors, making many of them eligible for sealing. Mandatory sealing of decriminalized misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Relief from collateral consequences at sentencing for non-incarceration sentences. Non-conviction records may be sealed where charges completely dismissed or person acquitted. Deferred sentencing dispositions may also lead to sealing.

Connecticut

Pardon policy & practice: Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power. Eligibility five years after completion of sentence for felonies, three years for misdemeanors. Public hearing generally required, with board giving reasons for denial. Process takes about one year. Relieves all legal disabilities, and is basis for court order “erasing” conviction. Board of Pardons and Parole also offers “provisional” pardons and certificates of rehabilitation/employability, which remove mandatory automatic collateral penalties (e.g., denial of employment or license). Provisional pardons and certificates may be sought any time after sentencing, and are available to individuals with out-of-state and federal convictions. The overall pardon grant rate has increased in recent years, from just under 50% in 2013 to over 60% in 2016.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Several deferred adjudication programs may result in “erasure” of record, with records destroyed after three years. Pardoned offenses erased three years after final disposition of criminal case. After two to four-year waiting period, juvenile offender at least 17 years of age may petition for erasure of police and court records if no subsequent convictions. Non-conviction records erased.

Delaware

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides but may not act without affirmative recommendation from clemency board composed of elected officials, chaired by lieutenant governor. Eligible 3-5 years following completion of sentence. Public hearings held at regular intervals, board recommendation and reasons announced at hearing. Process takes about 6 months. Pardon relieves all legal disabilities except constitutional provisions barring someone convicted of “infamous crime” from holding state office. More than 200 pardons granted annually in recent years, about 75% of filings.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Mandatory expungement upon request of non-conviction records of first-time misdemeanors or violations if no subsequent convictions; mandatory expungement of certain juvenile adjudications. Discretionary expungement for other non-conviction records, cases involving diversion or deferred adjudication (“Probation before Judgment”), pardoned misdemeanors or violations, and juvenile adjudications.

Florida

Pardon policy & practice: Governor and three cabinet officials act as pardon board; governor decides with concurrence of two cabinet officials. Governor must report pardons and restorations to legislature. Pardon eligibility begins ten years following completion of sentence; restoration of rights eligibility five to seven years after completion of sentence, depending on seriousness of offense; firearms restoration eight years after completion of sentence. Public hearing required for pardon, and for restoration of voting rights for some offenders. Pardons sparingly granted.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement (physical destruction of records) available after 10 years for first offenders granted deferred adjudication (“withholding adjudication of guilt”); for juvenile nonviolent first offender misdemeanants upon successful completion of diversion program; and for victims of human trafficking. Court may order sealing (limited access) and/or expungement of non-conviction records for first offenders with certain exceptions.

Georgia

Pardon policy & practice: Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power, reporting annually to legislature, governor, and AG. Eligible five years after completion of sentence. Paper review with no public hearing; board decides by majority vote and issues written decision. Pardon relieves all legal disabilities except return to public office. The Board also issues “restoration of civil and political rights” to felony offenders. More than 400 pardons granted each year, with or without firearms restoration.

Judicial expungement & sealing: No provision for expungement of adult convictions or arrests, but access to certain records may be restricted followed by sealing for first offender drug possession, youthful offender misdemeanors, “accountability courts,” and non-conviction records. Deferred adjudication for first offenders leads to “complete exoneration” with all rights restored but no expungement or sealing. Sealing of juvenile records after two years with finding of rehabilitation

Hawaii

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board. No eligibility requirements. No public hearing; parole board interviews applicant and makes recommendation to attorney general’s office, which conducts an independent investigation and makes its own recommendation to the governor. Relieves all legal disabilities and prohibitions but does not expunge record. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement after one year for nonviolent first offenders who receive deferred adjudication and for certain first time minor drug offenders. Juveniles may move court for expungement; records of adjudications are automatically sealed. Court may expunge non-conviction records

Idaho

Pardon policy & practice: Independent board appointed by governor decides for all but most serious offenses, which must be approved by the governor. Eligibility begins three years after completion of sentence for non-violent offenses and five years for violent offenses. Relieves legal disabilities, but does not restore firearms rights. Pardons issued regularly and relatively frequently.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Broad authority to reduce felonies to misdemeanors five years after successful completion of probation (or earlier if prosecutor stipulates to reduction). Also broad authority in court to defer adjudication and vacate plea but record not expunged or sealed. Certain sex offenders may petition for removal from registry after 10 years. Juvenile convictions, except for serious offenses, may be expunged after a waiting period. Idaho law makes no provision for limiting access to non-conviction records except for unreturned arrest records.

Illinois

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult prisoner review board. No eligibility requirements. Public hearings held with confidential recommendations forwarded to the governor. Relieves all legal disabilities and expunges record if pardon expressly authorizes. Board hears 500-600 applications each year, 30% from misdemeanants. Process regular but frequency of grants varies with administration.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Sealing available for all misdemeanors, felonies, and deferred adjudication after three-year waiting period. Exceptions for a handful of listed serious offenses. Sealing makes records unavailable without court order but does not destroy. Pardon may authorize judicial expungement (physical destruction of records). Juvenile records expunged upon petition to court; non-expunged records are sealed (but may be shared with school authorities). Expungement of non-conviction arrest records. Courts also authorized to issue certificates to relieve licensing restrictions (“certificate of relief from disabilities”) and Certificates of Good Conduct. Out-of-state and federal offenders eligible for former but not latter.

Indiana

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides with parole board having authority to review applications and make advisory recommendations; governor must report to legislature at next scheduled meeting; recent governors have required a five-year waiting period and evidence of rehabilitation, with a 15-year waiting
period for firearms restoration; parole board notifies victims, court, and prosecutor, and conducts an investigation and hearing where petitioner and interested parties are given an opportunity to be heard. Pardon alleviates punishment and guilt, serving as basis for expungement. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Mandatory judicial expungement of non-conviction records, misdemeanors, and less-serious felonies, if eligibility criteria met; discretionary expungement of more serious felonies. Expungement eligibility periods range from one to ten years, based on severity of offense. After expungement, non-conviction records, and records of misdemeanors and minor felonies are sealed; more serious felonies remain public but marked as expunged. Administrative sealing of convictions from state police after 15 years. Pardon is automatic basis for expungement.

Iowa

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons and reasons to legislature every two years; application may be submitted any time, but policy of governor’s office to require ten years after completion of sentence; five-year waiting period for firearms restoration; no waiting period for restoration of rights; out-of-state and federal offenders eligible for restoration of rights; pardon relieves all legal disabilities. Pardons infrequent in recent years; restoration of rights granted more frequently.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Deferred adjudication followed by expungement for first offenses. A person acquitted of all charges or whose charges have been dismissed is entitled to have the record expunged after 180 days. Automatic expungement of juvenile records at age 21 if no subsequent offenses; sealing of juvenile records at age 18 upon petition after a two-year waiting period with no subsequent offenses. Juvenile adjudication records are presumptively confidential if they do not involve forcible felony.

Kansas

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides with mandatory, but non-binding, consultation of parole board; governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature each year; no eligibility requirements; paper review with applicant required to publish application in a newspaper in the county of conviction and to provide notice to prosecutor, judge, and victims; pardon removes legal disabilities but does not expunge conviction. Pardons rare (expungement preferred relief).

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement available for most convictions, excluding serious violent and sex offenses, following a 3–5 year waiting period; no expungement for registrants under offender registration act; presumption in favor of expungement if court makes certain findings. Juvenile expungement, except for most serious offenses, after hearing after offender reaches age 23 and after a two-year waiting period with no subsequent offenses. Nonconviction records may be expunged on petition to court, subject to certain court-ordered grounds for disclosure.

Kentucky

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor may also restore rights; governor must publicly file with legislature a list of pardons with reasons; restoration of rights eligible after expiration of sentence or discharge with no pending charges; pardon eligible seven years after completion of sentence; federal and out-of-state offenders only eligible for restoration of rights; no public hearing; pardon applications sent directly to governor’s office; full pardon relieves all legal disabilities. Pardons rare during term, restoration of rights more frequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Mandatory expungement of single misdemeanor or violation (or series of misdemeanors/violations arising from same incident) after five conviction-free years. Discretionary expungement for series of misdemeanors/violations not arising from same incident after five conviction-free years. Under a 2016 law, pardoned convictions, and certain class D felonies may be vacated and the record expunged five years after completion of sentence, if no intervening conviction or pending charges. Court must hold hearing and there is a $500 filing fee. Expungement available for all juvenile offenses, including sex offenses and violent offenses, after a two-year waiting period. Upon petition, court may expunge records of misdemeanor or felony cases resulting in dismissal or acquittal, or if no indictment after 12 months; automatic expungement of juvenile records not resulting in adjudication.

Louisiana

Pardon policy & practice: Governor may not act without affirmative pardon board recommendation; eligibility begins after completion of sentence, plus payment of costs; public hearings held at regular intervals; approval of four out of five board members required; prosecutor and victims must be notified by
board and applicant through publication in newspaper; full pardon restores “status of innocence.” Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Mandatory expungement of certain felony offenses ten years after completion of sentence, if eligibility requirements met (violent offenses, sex offenses, crimes against minors, and drug trafficking offenses ineligible). Expungement following deferred adjudication for misdemeanors and certain noncapital felonies. Juvenile adjudications expunged after two years for misdemeanors and five years for felonies, excluding serious offenses. Expunged records not publicly available, except to law enforcement and certain licensing agencies, but may be used as predicates. Non-conviction records may be expunged at any time but remain available for certain licensing purposes.

Maine

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides with a non-statutory advisory scheme; eligibility begins five years after completion of sentence; public hearings held at regular intervals, and board makes confidential recommendations to governor after conducting an investigation; applicant must notify prosecutor and post a notice in the newspaper in county of conviction; pardon relieves all legal disabilities. Pardon frequency varies with administration.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Class E offenses committed between age 18 and 21 must be sealed after four years if no other offenses and other requirements met; otherwise, no general sealing or expungement laws. Non-conviction records generally not publicly available. Information regarding pardoned convictions is considered “non-conviction” data with limited availability and can be deleted from FBI database after 10 years. Juvenile sealing upon petition after a three-year crime-free waiting period.

Maryland

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides, and Parole Commission may be consulted; state constitution requires governor to publish notice of pardon in newspaper and to report each pardon, with reasons, to legislature; felony convictions must have 10 crime-free years to be eligible or seven years if Parole Commission waiver is granted; misdemeanants must have five crime-free years; 20-year wait for crimes of violence and for controlled substances violations; paper review by parole board, but recommendation to governor is non-binding; pardon lifts all legal disabilities and penalties imposed by conviction; firearms restoration must be express in pardon. Pardoning varies with administration, rare under current governor.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Effective Oct. 1, 2017, expungement for over 100 enumerated misdemeanor convictions after a 10- to 15-year waiting period, and is automatic unless prosecutor or victim objects. “Shielding” (sealing) available for 12 enumerated non-violent misdemeanors after a 3-year waiting period. Expungement confers greater benefits than shielding: expunged records may be opened only by court order and are destroyed after three years. Expungement for specified nuisance convictions after three years; deferred adjudication (“probation before judgment”) after three years; pardoned nonviolent first offenders. Arrest records not leading to charges automatically expunged; other non-conviction records expunged upon petition after a waiting period. Expungement available for charges transferred to juvenile court; sealing of juvenile records.

Massachusetts

Pardon policy & practice: Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Governor’s Council; governor required to report to legislature annually a list of pardons, but not reasons; eligibility begins 15 years after conviction or release from prison for felonies and 10 years for misdemeanors; petitions must be filed with Parole Board, which holds a public hearing and solicits recommendations from attorney general, prosecutor, and sentencing court; Board provides notice to victim and forwards recommendation to governor; records sealed upon pardon. Pardons infrequent since 1990; none granted by Govs. Romney and Patrick.

Judicial expungement & sealing: No general expungement, but felonies may be sealed after 10 years if no subsequent convictions; five years for misdemeanors; pardon automatically seals; non-conviction records may be sealed on court order. Upon discharge from commitment, juvenile rights are restored and past commitment cannot be received in evidence.

Michigan

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides after mandatory, but non-binding, consultation with parole board; governor required to report annually to legislature a list of pardons with reasons; no eligibility criteria; all applications referred to the board; if board holds a hearing, relevant officials must be notified; board’s recommendation is public record; pardon restores offender to same position as if the offense had never been committed. Post-sentence pardons rare in recent years.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Set-aside of felony conviction after 5-year waiting period if not more than one felony conviction and not more than two misdemeanor convictions; set-aside of one or both misdemeanor convictions after 5-year waiting period if not more than two misdemeanor offenses and no other offenses. Set-aside limits public access to the record, but remains available to law enforcement and counts as predicate. Probation before judgment for first-time drug offenders with nonpublic records kept by law enforcement. For first offenders found not guilty, or charges dismissed or not prosecuted, records “shall be destroyed.” With certain exceptions, up to three juvenile adjudications (one felony) may be set aside one year after adjudication or release from detention, or upon reaching age 18, whichever is later. Most juvenile diversion records must be destroyed at age 17, and most juvenile adjudication records must be destroyed upon reaching age 30.

Minnesota

Pardon policy & practice: Governor and high officials (attorney general, chief justice) act as pardon board, which is required to report to the legislature annually; for a “pardon extraordinary,” which restores all rights and effectively nullifies a conviction, eligibility requires five crime-free years from final discharge for nonviolent crimes or 10 crime-free years for violent offenses; commissioner of corrections screens applications and decides which cases should be heard by the board; public hearing with notice to officials and victim and decision announced at end of hearing; pardon extraordinary does not expunge or seal
conviction. Pardon process regular, but grants issued sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Effective January 2015, all misdemeanors and many minor nonviolent felonies may be expunged (sealed) after a two- to five-year waiting period; sealing also available for cases resolved in an individual’s favor or resulting in diversion or stay of adjudication, juvenile delinquency adjudications, and juveniles tried as adults after discharge; balancing test applies with presumption in favor of sealing non-conviction records. Common law expungement available for most records not eligible for statutory expungement; balancing test applies. Deferred sentencing for certain felony convictions which may be knocked down to misdemeanors following probation (does not make them eligible for sealing).

Mississippi

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides, and parole board may be consulted; informal policy holds that eligibility begins seven years after completion of sentence; applicants must publish notice prior to making application to the governor’s office; parole board investigates and holds hearing on facially meritorious cases; pardon restores civil rights and removes employment disabilities, but does not result in expungement. Pardons infrequent, process irregular.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement of first offender misdemeanors, some enumerated minor felonies and a single more serious felony committed before age 21, all after a five-year waiting period. Deferred adjudication followed by dismissal for misdemeanors and certain felonies, but no expungement unless otherwise provided by law. Court may seal juvenile records for certain dispositions after reaching age 20. Non-conviction records may be expunged.

Missouri

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides, and parole board may be consulted for nonbinding advice; eligibility begins three years after discharge; pardon applications forwarded to parole board for investigation; no public hearing; pardon relieves all legal disabilities but does not expunge. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Effective January 1, 2018, felonies and misdemeanors may be expunged, subject to a lengthy list of exceptions for violent offenses, sex offenses, and other more serious offenses; waiting period of 3 years after completion of sentence for misdemeanors and 7 years for felonies; only one felony and two misdemeanors may be expunged in a lifetime; presumption in favor of expungement if eligibility criteria met. Expungement of non-conviction records subject to same eligibility rules and procedures as convictions, with a 3-year waiting period (eff. January 1, 2018). Arrest records not eligible
for expungement under new law eligible to be “closed” under old law (which authorizes sealing for suspended and probationary sentences, and for all cases disposed of favorably to the defendant). Court may seal and destroy juvenile records after person reaches age 17; juvenile driving records may be expunged after two years or upon reaching age 21. Expunged records unavailable to public, with some exceptions.

Montana

Pardon policy & practice: Board of pardons is now advisory, permitting Governor to grant clemency petitions over Board’s recommendation for denial; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature; no eligibility criteria; board may hold a hearing in meritorious cases where all sides are heard and a record made, but not required; pardon removes “all legal consequences” of conviction and is grounds for expungement. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Under a new law effective October 1, 2017, all misdemeanors eligible for expungement; expungement presumed for all but certain serious offenses, after a 5-year waiting period, and expungement discretionary for other misdemeanors. Pardon is also grounds for judicial expungement. Upon request, non-conviction records must be returned to defendant or destroyed. Only one expungement order in a lifetime. Deferred sentencing for first felony offenders and misdemeanants, after which charges are dismissed and access to records is limited; automatic sealing of youth court and probation records upon reaching age 18, but no process for sealing or expunging juvenile arrest records. Upon request, non-conviction records must be returned to defendant or destroyed

Nebraska

Pardon policy & practice: Governor and high officials (secretary of state and attorney general) act as pardon board; eligibility begins 10 years following completion of sentence for felonies and three years for misdemeanors; public hearings held at regular intervals; reasons for approval or denial not given; pardon restores civil rights other than vote; gun rights restored separately. An average of 80 pardons granted each year, about 25% with firearms privileges. 60% of applications are granted,

Judicial expungement & sealing: Set-aside for probationers “nullifies” conviction and removes “all civil disabilities and disqualifications” but does not expunge or seal record; juvenile expungement only for arrests due to police error; limited sealing of juvenile records upon showing of rehabilitation. Criminal history information from cases not resulting in conviction is automatically removed from the public record and available only to law enforcement; waiting periods apply depending on type of record. Upon petition, expungement of arrest records resulting from law enforcement error

Nevada

Pardon policy & practice: Governor and high officials (justices of supreme court and attorney general) act as pardon board; governor must report every clemency action, without reasons, at the beginning of each legislative session; no formal eligibility requirements, but typically required to wait “a significant period of time;” public hearings held at regular intervals, except for non-violent first offenders; pardon removes all disabilities, including firearms and licensing bars; does not erase conviction. May serve as predicate (except
federal gun prosecutions). Process takes about one year. About 20 grants each year since 2005, about half of those that apply.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Petition to seal available after 2-10 years for felonies and 1-7 years for misdemeanors, if no subsequent convictions; presumption in favor of sealing if criteria met. Deferred sentencing for persons adjudged an addict or alcoholic; upon successful completion of a treatment program the conviction may be set aside and the record sealed. Automatic sealing for probationers upon honorable
discharge, other minor offenses under various statutes. Automatic juvenile sealing for most offenses at age 21, or earlier upon petition after a three-year waiting period. Non-conviction records may be sealed at any time after completion of case.

New Hampshire

Pardon policy & practice: Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Executive Council. Persons eligible for “annulment” under state law generally are not considered for a pardon. No public hearing; notice to prosecutor. Pardon eliminates all consequences of conviction but does not expunge. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Less serious, nonviolent offenses may be “annulled” after 1–10 year waiting period, with recidivists waiting longer. Juvenile records sealed upon reaching age 21. Non-conviction data may be annulled by court subject to “public welfare” standard. Annulment results in being treated as if having “never been arrested, convicted or sentenced;” Effective 2013, annulled records not publicly available except to law enforcement.

New Jersey

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature. No eligibility criteria. No public hearing required. Pardon restores rights and makes eligible for expungement. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement of “indictable” offenses (felonies), “disorderly persons” offenses (misdemeanors), “petty disorderly persons” offenses, and municipal offenses, with different waiting periods depending on offense (most serious and violent offenses ineligible). Petition for expungement of indictable offense may include up to two petitions for expungement of disorderly person/petty disorderly person offenses; up to three disorderly person/petty disorderly person offenses may be expunged at same time, if no indictable offense conviction. Expungement of most drug offenses upon successful completion of drug court. Juvenile records may be expunged after a five-year waiting period with no subsequent convictions. Deferred adjudication for minor drug offenses and expungement after six-month waiting period; expungement of arrest and other non-conviction records at time of disposition. Sentencing court or supervisory authority may issue certificate evidencing rehabilitation that “suspends certain disabilities, forfeitures or bars to employment or professional licensure.” Only state offenders eligible.

New Mexico

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board. Eligibility begins after completion of sentence with current policy requiring longer waiting periods and non-consideration for certain serious offenses. No public hearing required; victim notified. Restores rights and removes disabilities but does not expunge. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Deferred sentencing available for all but first-degree felony cases; civil rights restoration but no expungement. Expungement available for first offender drug possession if under age 18 at time of offense; court may seal juvenile delinquency records. Expungement of arrest records for misdemeanors

New York

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually. No eligibility criteria; applicants generally not considered if alternative administrative remedies are available. No public hearing required. Pardon “exempts from further punishment” based on the conviction. Special pardon program under Gov. Cuomo that applies to people convicted of misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies at age 16 or 17; recommended if 10 crime-free years. Pardons infrequent and process irregular.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Under a new law effective October 2017, sealing of up to two convictions (only one felony) after 10-year waiting period for all crimes except sex offenses, class A and violent felonies. Automatic sealing of records following deferred adjudication. Conditional sealing of certain drug and other felony offenses and up to three misdemeanor convictions upon completion of diversion program; sealing also applicable to juvenile offender adjudications and proceedings. Automatic sealing of non-conviction records upon termination of the action in favor of the accused unless DA demonstrates “that the interests of justice require otherwise.”
A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) or a Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC) may be obtained to restore certain rights, may be limited to one or more specific rights. CRD available to individuals with no more than one felony, as early as sentencing; CGC available to individuals with multiple felonies after 1-5 year waiting period. Persons residing in New York with convictions from other states or with federal convictions may qualify for certificates.

North Carolina

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board. Eligibility begins five years after completion of sentence. No public hearing required; DA and victim must be notified, with victim allowed to offer written statement. Depending on type of pardon, effects range from assistance in securing employment to full restoration of rights, including firearms rights. Pardons rare.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Nonviolent misdemeanors may be expunged after 5 years and minor nonviolent felonies after 10 years. (Waiting period is 15 years for all offense levels until December
1, 2017). Must have no other convictions or expunctions. Deferred adjudication for first-time minor drug offenders; expungement only if under age 21. First offender felonies, misdemeanors, and certain juvenile offenses committed under age 18 or 21 may be expunged following a waiting period. Non-conviction records may be expunged only if no prior felony convictions.
Certificate of Relief available from sentencing court one year after completion of sentence; for individuals with no more than two class G, H, or I felonies or misdemeanors in one court session, and no other felony or misdemeanor convictions. Relieves mandatory collateral consequences, certifies no public safety risk, provides negligent hiring protection.

North Dakota

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult pardons board. No formal eligibility criteria, but applicant must demonstrate “compelling need.” No public hearing; DA notified. Relieves collateral penalties but no expungement. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Minor felony convictions may be set aside and knocked down to misdemeanors after successful probation, but no expungement except for nonconviction records. First offender marijuana possession may be sealed by court if no subsequent conviction for two years. Deferred adjudication and deferred imposition of sentence available, with expungement after successful completion. Juvenile records generally confidential, and may be destroyed upon petition and showing of good cause.

Ohio

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides but must consult parole board for non-binding advice; governor must report pardons to legislature. Eligibility at any time. Public hearings; no reasons given. Pardon “erases” conviction and entitles recipient to sealing. Pardon policy varies with administration. Though process regular, pardons granted sparingly by present governor (Kasich).

Judicial expungement & sealing: Sealing for up to one felony, up to two misdemeanors, or up to one felony and one misdemeanor, after a 1–3 year waiting period upon finding of rehabilitation (excluding certain serious offenses). Sealing available for out-of-state and federal offenses. Intervention in lieu of conviction available for certain non-serious first offenses. Delinquency records may be sealed six months following discharge, except murder or rape. Sealing of non-conviction records.

Oklahoma

Pardon policy & practice: Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Board of Pardons and Parole; governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature. Eligibility begins after completion of sentence. Public hearings with favorable recommendations made public but no reasons given. Applicant not required to appear. Relieves legal disabilities, except firearms; grounds for expungement for nonviolent offenders. About 100 grants per year (80% of applications). Process takes about 6 months.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Misdemeanors with sentence of $500 fine or less and no prison term may be expunged (sealed) upon satisfaction of fine; otherwise, misdemeanors may be expunged after 5 years if no prior felonies and no charges pending. Nonviolent felonies that have been pardoned may be expunged after 10 years if no prior felonies/charges pending and no prior misdemeanor within last 15 years; up to two nonviolent felonies that have been pardoned may be expunged after 20 years, if no other felonies/no charges pending. Pardoned offenses committed under age 18 may be expunged, no waiting period.
Deferred adjudication and probation leading to expungement for first-time minor felony offenders and misdemeanants, after waiting period (10 years for felonies, 2 years for misdemeanors); deferred adjudication leading to automatic expungement for first-time drug offenders. Records of juvenile adjudications may be expunged upon reaching age 21 with no subsequent convictions. Non-conviction records may be expunged in case of acquittal or if no charges filed, and in case of dismissed charges only if no other felony convictions and statute of limitation has passed.

Oregon

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides; must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature. Eligibility generally extends only to misdemeanors and minor felonies for which set-aside is available. No public hearing required. Relieves all legal disabilities. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Less serious, nonviolent misdemeanor and felony offenses may be set aside after a 1–20 year waiting period if there are no other convictions in the past 10 years or arrests within the past 3 years; expanded availability for set-aside of marijuana offenses after 2015 legislation. Set-aside restores all rights, relieves all disabilities, and seals the record of the conviction. Juvenile expungement and sealing upon reaching age 18 after a 5-year waiting period. Set-aside of non-conviction records one year after arrest if no charges filed, or any time after an acquittal or dismissal.

Pennsylvania

Pardon policy & practice: Governor may not act without affirmative pardon board recommendation. No eligibility requirements. Public hearings with favorable recommendations announced publicly; no reasons
given. Relieves all legal disabilities; grounds for expungement. Process regular and about 100-150 pardons per year (fewer under present governor).

Judicial expungement & sealing: Sealing (“order for limited access”) for 2nd and 3rd degree misdemeanors and ungraded offenses after 10-year waiting period; ineligible if convicted of certain offenses, offenses punishable by more than 2 years imprisonment, or four or more offenses punishable by one or more years. Sealed records not available to public, private employers, or landlords, but remain available to licensing agencies and other state and criminal justice agencies.
Expungement available for “summary” offenses after five years; “violations” (submisdemeanors); and for those aged 70 if no arrests for 10 years. Mandatory expungement for pardoned offenses; underage drinking offenses if over 21. Juvenile expungement available if: charges dropped; six months after discharge of consent decree/supervision; upon reaching age 18; or five years after delinquency adjudication. Mandatory expungement for non-conviction records if no disposition indicated after 18 months, or by court order; expungement available for “probation before judgment” cases for nonviolent, first-time drug offenses. Authority to redact conviction records to expunge dismissed charges.

Rhode Island

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides but may not act without affirmative recommendation of state senate. No eligibility requirements. No process specified. Restores right to hold public office and lifts occupational and licensing bars. Pardons rare (none since 2000).

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement for nonviolent first offenders 5–10 years after completion of sentence. Sealing following deferred adjudication and successful completion of five-year probationary period. Automatic sealing of juvenile records with limited exceptions. Sealing of records of acquittals or other exonerations, if no prior conviction.

South Carolina

Pardon policy & practice: Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power, except in capital cases. Eligibility following completion of sentence or after five years under supervision and payment of restitution in full. Public hearings. Pardon erases all legal effects of conviction, including sex offender registration and predicate effect. About 300 pardon grants each year.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement for first-offender misdemeanants if no other conviction within three years, for first-time minor drug offenders whose adjudication deferred, and for various other minor first-offenders. Juvenile expungement at age 18 for nonviolent first offenders, with exceptions for serious crimes. Non-conviction records destroyed if charges dismissed or person acquitted.

South Dakota

Pardon policy & practice: Governor refers applications to Board of Pardons and Paroles, which must recommend pardon in order to have record sealed. In general, must wait five years to apply. Public hearings; notice to DA and judge with publication in newspaper in county where crime committed. Relieves legal disabilities, no predicate effect. Process takes about six months. In 2014, the Board of Pardons and Paroles implemented a policy that expedites the pardon process for certain nonviolent misdemeanors, with waiting periods of 5 and 10 years. About 30-40 grants annually, 60% of applications.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Records of petty offenses, class 2 misdemeanors, and municipal ordinance violations automatically sealed (removed from public record) after 10 years. Sealing following deferred adjudication for first felony offenders, except for serious offenses (restores person to pre-arrest status). Records of misdemeanor offenses may be destroyed after 10 years. Pardon automatically seals record. Sealing of juvenile records upon petition after a waiting period with finding of rehabilitation. Non-conviction records may be expunged one year after arrest if no charges filed; at any time after acquittal, or after dismissal with consent of prosecutor.

Tennessee

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report reasons to legislature “when requested.” Eligibility after completion of sentence and additional period of
good conduct, demonstrated rehabilitation, and need. Public hearing with notice to prosecutor; prior
to a grant being made public, governor must notify AG and DA, who notify the victim. Limited legal effect;
restores firearms rights for nonviolent non-drug offenses, but does not restore civil or other rights. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Expungement for certain less-serious, nonviolent offenses 5 years after completion of sentence if no more than two convictions, both of which must be eligible (multiple contemporaneous convictions treated as single offense). Expungement in first-offender deferred adjudication & pretrial diversion cases for misdemeanors and Class D felonies. Expungement of pardoned offenses. Mandatory expungement of juvenile record after one year if solely “misdemeanors”; discretionary expungement for other juvenile records at age 17 or earlier after a one-year waiting period with certain eligibility requirements. Expunged convictions treated as if they never occurred, public records destroyed. Court must destroy public records in cases of acquittal or where charges have been dismissed. Courts may also redact conviction records to expunge dismissed charges.
Judicial restoration of rights available upon petition after expiration of sentence if petitioner “merits having full rights of citizenship restored.” Individuals who have had or sought to have had rights restored may also petition court for a Certificate of Employability. Persons with qualifying convictions from other states or with federal convictions may apply for restoration of rights and certificates

Texas

Pardon policy & practice: Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Board of Pardons and Paroles. Eligibility upon completion of sentence; misdemeanants may apply. No public hearing. Restores civil rights and removes some legal barriers to employment and licensing; basis for expungement. Process regular but pardons granted sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Sealing (“Order of Nondisclosure”) for most first-offender misdemeanors, upon completion of sentence or after a two-year waiting period for more serious misdemeanors; effective September 1, 2017, sealing available for first-offender DWI offenses (bac < .15) after 2-5 year waiting period (offenses that result in accident involving another person ineligible). Deferred adjudication may result in sealing for most offenses, with a five-year waiting period for felonies; automatic sealing for many first-offender nonviolent misdemeanors. “Expunction” available for deferred adjudication of class C misdemeanors; non-conviction records, pardoned convictions. Automatic sealing at age 19 for misdemeanor juvenile adjudications; discretionary sealing upon petition at age 18 or two years after discharge.

Utah

Pardon policy & practice: Independent board appointed by the governor; majority vote required
with reasons given. Eligibility five years after expiration of sentence, restricted to offenses ineligible for expungement. Public hearings; notice to DA and victim. Restores civil rights. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: All but serious and violent offenses may be expunged after a 3–10 year waiting period, and order must issue unless court finds this would be “contrary to public interest.” Pardon entitles person to expungement. Juvenile records may be expunged after reaching age 18 following a one-year waiting period if no adult criminal record. Expungement of non-conviction records available if acquittal or charges dismissed 30 days after arrest took place; Class C misdemeanors receiving deferred adjudication also may qualify.

Vermont

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board. Eligibility generally 10 years after conviction; must show rehabilitation, benefit to society, and employment-related need. No hearing. Restores rights and relieves disabilities, including firearms. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act (UCCCA) authorizes targeted relief from court at sentencing (Order of Limited Relief), and more thorough relief after five years (Certificate of Restoration of Rights). Persons with convictions from other states or with federal convictions are eligible for relief under these provisions.
Expungement or sealing available for nonviolent non-sexual misdemeanors and two minor felonies (grand larceny, criminal mischief) after a 10-year waiting period if no further convictions (if subsequently convicted, must wait 20 years if no felonies and no misdemeanor convictions within past 15 years); and if convicted under age 25, after 5 years or after 1 year if convicted of conduct no longer a crime. Deferred sentencing and diversion may result in expungement; sealing available under first-offender diversion program two years after successful completion. Youthful crimes committed under age 21 may be sealed two years after discharge if rehabilitated and no further criminal involvement. Expungement or sealing of nonconviction records if charges not brought or dismissed before trial.

Virginia

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually. Three kinds of pardon: “conditional” (commutation), “absolute” (innocence); and “simple” (forgiveness). “Simple” pardon does not expunge but serves as official forgiveness and removes some employment and education barriers; Governor may also grant restoration of rights. Five-year eligibility waiting period for simple pardon; no hearing. Pardons more frequent under Gov. McAuliffe; rights restorations freely available upon determination of eligibility.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Deferred adjudication, but no expungement, for certain first-time drug offenders. Absolute pardon entitles person to expungement. Automatic destruction of most juvenile records if person is atleast age 19 and five years have elapsed since any juvenile hearing in any case, with several exceptions. Non-conviction records may be expunged where case results in acquittal, nolle prosequi, or dismissal.

Washington

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult Clemency and Pardons Board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature. No eligibility criteria. Public hearing; DA and victim notified. Relieves all legal disabilities and vacates conviction. Process regular but pardons granted sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing: All but the most serious offenses may be “vacated” after 5–10 year waiting period; most misdemeanors eligible after 3–5 year waiting period. Pardon automatically vacates conviction. Automatic sealing of juvenile records of adjudication (except serious, sex, and drug offense) upon satisfaction of terms and conditions of disposition (contested hearing if state objects or court finds compelling reasons not to seal); juvenile offenses ineligible for automatic sealing may be sealed after a crime-free 2-5 year waiting period. Juvenile diversion records may be destroyed by court, or automatically in some situations. Administrative sealing of non-conviction records two years after disposition favorable to defendant.
Court-issued Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) prohibit licensing agencies from disqualifying individuals based on criminal conviction, and protect against negligent hiring liability.

West Virginia

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature. No eligibility criteria. No public hearing; board must notify DA and judge before making recommendation. Lifts most legal barriers; does not restore firearms rights. Pardons rare.
Judicial expungement & sealing: Youthful (age 18-26) first misdemeanor convictions may be expunged after one year; violent crimes, DUI, and crimes against children offenses excluded. Effective July 2017, many nonviolent non-sexual felony offenses may be reduced to misdemeanors after 10 years, but ineligible for expungement. Pardon is basis for expungement after one year and at least five years after discharge of sentence. Automatic juvenile sealing after a one-year waiting period or upon reaching age 18 unless the case is transferred to adult court.

Wisconsin

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and must communicate pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually. Five-year eligibility waiting period; misdemeanants ineligible unless waiver granted. Public hearing; notice to DA, judge, and victim and published in county newspaper. Relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge or seal conviction. Past practice varied according to incumbent governor; no pardons under present governor (Walker).

Judicial expungement & sealing: Misdemeanor and minor felony convictions may be expunged only if committed before age 25, and only if the court authorizes at the time of sentencing. Deferred prosecution in domestic violence and some sex offense cases may lead to dismissal of charges, no conviction. Juvenile expungement upon reaching age 17 with finding of offender benefit and no harm to society.

Wyoming

Pardon policy & practice: Governor decides and must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature every two years. Eligibility for pardon 10 years after sentence; 5 years for restoration of rights. Sex offenses ineligible for either form of relief. No public hearing. Relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge. Pardons granted regularly but sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing: Certain felony convictions may be expunged 10 years after completion of sentence if no other felony convictions; court must find applicant is not a danger; certain misdemeanors may be expunged after five years if offense did not involve use of a firearm. Deferred sentencing for first felony offenders and misdemeanants, excluding certain serious crimes, but expungement is specifically prohibited. Juvenile expungement upon petition after reaching age 18, with showing of rehabilitation. Expungement of non-conviction records 180 days after dismissal of proceedings if no charges pending.

Sealed Records

A sealed record is considered a criminal record for the purposes of IRPA. Having a sealed record itself does not in and of itself constitute inadmissibility, however, an officer will question the person concerned to determine the circumstances of the sealed record. A sealed record is usually a process used for young offenders. In such cases, it would most likely equate to an offence under the Young Offenders Act, which does not render one inadmissible to Canada. Sealed records can also be used after an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant, or in security cases. For example, if a person abides by terms and conditions imposed by the court, their record may be sealed in Vermont. The record cannot be made public without a court order, however, will appear on a person’s “rap sheet.”

Suspended Sentences and Inadmissibility?

Even though your sentence is suspended, usually contingent on successfully completing probation, you still had to have pleaded guilty of the offence, and this makes you inadmissible to Canada. The moment there is a “guilty” or “convicted” offence on your record, you are rendered inadmissible to Canada and will require additional steps to be able to visit the country. These steps could include a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  As the information on this page is also subject to change, FWCanada recommends consulting the most updated version of your state statutes or speaking with an attorney in your state.  Each case is different, and individuals who have been convicted of a DUI and are seeking to have the conviction expunged should always consult an attorney to provide advice specific to their unique situation.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.