What is Sealing?
Nevada offers "sealing" of adult criminal records and juvenile records. Sealing does not delete or destroy your criminal record, but it makes the records inaccessible without a court order. Sealed records may be used in some circumstances such as criminal investigations or sentencing. Employers, landlords, and banks will not see a sealed record.
Nevada law seals most juvenile records automatically at age 21. Some records are sealed at age 30. In addition, some records can be sealed before age 21 if there are no adjudications or referrals in the last three years.
Who is Eligible for Sealing?
You can apply to seal records of arrest, conviction, acquittal, or dismissal. To be eligible for sealing depends on the category of the offense and other factors. There are specific Nevada statutes that affect your eligibility.
The following convictions may be eligible for sealing:
- A category A felony;
- A category B, C, or D felony;
- A category E felony;
- Any gross misdemeanor;
- Domestic-violence battery, but not a felony;
- Healthcare fraud, but not a felony;
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or a prohibited substance, but not a felony;
- Operating a commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a prohibited substance, but not a felony; and
- Any other misdemeanor.
The following offenses are not eligible for sealing:
- A crime against a child;
- A sex crime;
- A felony conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or a prohibited substance;
- A felony conviction for operating a commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a prohibited substance;
- A conviction for driving under the influence that caused death or substantial bodily harm;
- A second felony conviction for operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- A conviction for operating a watercraft under the influence causing death or substantial bodily harm; or homicide by vessel.
If you are uncertain whether you are eligible for sealing, consult an attorney.
What Effect Does Sealing Have?
Once a Nevada court seals a record, the court orders the central repository to seal their records. The court will also notify federal agencies to seal their records, but they are not bound by a Nevada court order. You are responsible to deliver copies of the Order to Seal to all the agencies, law enforcement, and other officials that were listed on your sealing petition. Once the central repository receives an Order to Seal, the sealing process will take two to four months to complete.
Once sealed, your conviction, dismissal, or acquittal goes away as if it never happened. In most cases, you can legally deny being arrested or convicted. If your civil rights, the right to vote, the right to hold office, and the right to serve on a jury were not restored before your record is sealed, they are restored immediately upon sealing.
When Can I Apply for Sealing?
You can apply for sealing of a conviction only after you have completed your sentence. Waiting periods apply. You must count from whatever date is the most recent such as the date of conviction, completion of sentence, completion of probation or parole, or final payment of restitution and then wait for several years.
If your conviction is for:
- A category A felony, you must wait 10 years.
- A category B, C, or D felony, you must wait five years.
- A category E felony, you must wait two years.
- A gross misdemeanor, you must wait two years.
- Healthcare fraud, driving under the influence, or domestic violence, but not a felony, you must wait seven years.
- Any other misdemeanor, you must wait one year.
How Do I Apply for Sealing?
Sealing is handled by the county court where you were convicted. In some cases, the district attorney may "stipulate" or agree that your record be sealed. In others case, you may have to go to a court hearing.
Here are the five steps to apply for sealing:
- Get a copy of your criminal history record from the Nevada Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Central Repository. Enter the reason you are asking for the record as "for the purpose of sealing records."
- Get your fingerprints taken at your local police or sheriff's department.
- Go in person or call the district attorney's office in the county where you were convicted or arrested for instructions. Every district has their own set of forms and requirements for sealing. The district attorney's office will give you that county's sealing packet.
- Make copies of everything and take them to the district attorney's office in the county where you were charged.
- Wait for a response. If the district attorney agrees to sealing, the office will notify you and give you instructions to file your petition and order with the court or the court may hold a hearing on your petition. The court will notify you when the judge has made a decision.
More Information About Sealing
The Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS) has a "Sealing of Criminal History Records" document that includes general instructions, information, and relevant statutes. To access the document, visit the DPS website here: Sealing of Criminal History Records General Information.