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Can I Get My Records Sealed?

Greg Nelson Attorney at Law Oct. 24, 2023

If you’ve been arrested and convicted of any kind of crime, your entire future is impacted. You may have heard that some states allow your criminal record to be expunged—that is, destroyed and removed from anyone’s access. It’s important to understand that Nebraska does not allow expungement.  

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, your criminal conviction cannot be erased from your record in the state. Your best avenue is to seek a pardon from the Board of Pardons, or to pursue what is called a set-aside from the judge who sentenced you. While the set-aside does not erase the criminal record, it does add a notation to your record that your conviction was set aside. 

Nebraska does allow the sealing of an arrest record under certain circumstances, however. One such circumstance is if prosecutors dropped the charges against you or declined to file any in the first place. Another is when your charges are dismissed after a diversion program. 

If you have been acquitted of a crime or have been arrested and not been charged in Omaha or elsewhere in Nebraska, contact Greg Nelson Attorney at Law. As a former prosecutor, I’ve developed a deep knowledge of how the justice system operates from both sides of the aisle. I will work with you to exercise your full rights so that you can move forward in life without an arrest record blocking your path. 

In addition to Omaha, I also proudly serve clients across the state of Nebraska, including those in Sarpy, Saunders, Dodge, and Washington counties. 

Arrest and Criminal Records: Key Points to Consider 

How Does Record Sealing Differ from Expungement?  

When an arrest record is sealed, it is removed from public access, though it still exists. Law enforcement and other government agencies will still have access to it, but the public will not. Expungement means the record will be removed entirely, and no one can ever access it. Nebraska, however, does not allow expungement of a criminal record.  

Who Can Request to Have Their Records Sealed?  

If you have a criminal record from a conviction, as mentioned above, you can request a pardon or a set-aside. The most available avenue is by requesting a set-aside from the judge who convicted you. You may be eligible for a set-aside if you meet certain conditions: 

  • You were placed on probation and successfully completed your probation 

  • You were sentenced to community service and successfully completed it 

  • You were sentenced to one year or less in jail and have completed the sentence 

  • You were only sentenced to a fine and paid it 

If your set-aside is granted, it will be so noted on your criminal record, but the record will not be expunged. 

Arrest records are different. In many cases, they will be removed from public view—sealed, in other words—under certain circumstances. Sealing of an arrest record will occur: 

  • One year from the date of arrest if no charges are filed 

  • Two years after an arrest in which no charges were filed but the arrestee completed a diversion program 

  • Three years after charges were filed but dismissed on the motion of the prosecuting attorney 

If you were arrested in error, you can file a petition in the district court in the county in which you were arrested to have your record expunged, according to Section 29-3523 of Nebraska Revised Statutes. 

Who Is Not Eligible to Have Their Records Sealed? 

If you are requesting a set-aside, there are circumstances that will likely end up in an immediate denial. These circumstances may include: 

  • Having a criminal charge pending in any court in the United States or in any country 

  • Filing  during the period when you are required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act 

  • Having a misdemeanor or felony motor vehicle offense conviction resulting in motor vehicle homicide 

  • Filing within two years of a previously denied set-aside 

Why Should You Seal Your Record? 

Having an arrest or criminal record that is available for public access is a major roadblock in life. First, it will affect your employment prospects. It can also limit or block you from obtaining professional licensing. Your record can also negatively impact your financial future by making loans more difficult to obtain, and it may also affect your right to public benefits. Sealing your record is an essential step in the right direction. 

What Does the Process Entail? 

Depending on what route you’re going to take—pardon or set-aside—the steps are a bit different, but there are forms to be filled out and filed, whether with the Board of Pardons or with the court where you were convicted. Doing this is not a DIY project. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the system. 

Get the Support of an Attorney Who Advocates for You 

If you’ve been arrested, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Your best recourse is to seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney from the very beginning before you even answer questions by prosecutors. You have a right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. Exercise these rights from the moment you’re taken in. 

In or around Omaha, Nebraska—or anywhere in the state—reach out to me, Greg Nelson Attorney at Law. I'm ready to listen to your story and help you pursue a brighter future.