By Elizabeth S. Carmona, Esq.
- It’s not automatic. Although the Nevada Legislature established a public policy in favor of second chances, see NRS 179.2405, there is currently no mechanism for automatically sealing eligible criminal records in Nevada. A person wishing to seal past criminal records must file a petition with the Court. The prosecuting agency and law enforcement involved will be notified of the petition and have the opportunity to object. In most cases, a rebuttable presumption in favor of sealing the records will apply. NRS 179.2445. If the petition is granted, the order must be distributed to all relevant agencies to complete the sealing process.
- Most charges must meet statutory eligibility requirements. Charges must meet the waiting periods set forth in NRS Chapter 179. Some charges are eligible immediately (e.g. dismissed, acquitted, and decriminalized charges), whereas others can never be sealed (e.g. crimes against children, sexual offenses, felony DUIs, and home invasions with a deadly weapon). The eligibility timeline begins at the close of each case. This can mean the date the last fine was paid, the date of release from parole or probation, the date of release from jail or prison, or the date other court requirements were completed. “Minor moving or standing violations” that fail to meet the waiting period may be omitted from the petition, so long as the other records have met the relevant waiting periods. NRS 179.245(5).
- Record sealing restores most civil rights lost due to a felony conviction. When the Court grants a petition to seal criminal records, the petitioner’s rights to vote, hold office, and sit on a jury are immediately restored. NRS 179.285. The right to bear arms is unaffected by record sealing and can only be restored by a pardon. NRS 202.360.
- Some agencies can access sealed records on a limited basis. Once sealed, the underlying records are removed from public view and the proceedings are deemed never to have occurred. However, the records continue to exist, and some government agencies can access sealed records under specified circumstances. These agencies include the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the Nevada Gaming Commission, the Department of Business & Industry Division of Insurance, a prosecuting attorney, the Central Repository for Nevada Records of Criminal History, the State Board of Pardons Commissioners, and some professional licensing boards. NRS 179.301; NRS 179.259.
- Help is available. Nevada Legal Services provides free legal education, self-help resources, legal advice, and representation for eligible Nevadans seeking to seal their past criminal records, as well as CLE presentations and support for pro bono volunteers. Criminal record sealing community education classes are open to all and offered on a regular basis in partnership with the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law.
For upcoming class dates, record sealing resources, or client intake, please visit www.nevadalegalservices.org.
This article was originally published in published in the Five Things issue of the Clark County Bar Association (CCBA) journal Communiqué (Jan. 2023): https://clarkcountybar.org/five-things-to-know-about-sealing-nevada-criminal-records/