Restoration of Rights Project: State-specific guides to restoration of rights, pardon, expungement, sealing & certificates of relief

Federal

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

State law governs loss and restoration of the right to vote in federal or state elections, as well as eligibility for state jury service and state public office, for people with state or federal convictions.  Federal jury eligibility is lost upon conviction in state or federal court of a crime punishable by more than one year if a person’s “civil rights have not been restored.”  Federal law does not prevent holding federal office based on a conviction.

Federal firearms disabilities are removed for those with state convictions by various state law restoration mechanisms, and for those with federal convictions by a presidential pardon.  Federal law does not prohibit possession of antique firearms.

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Pardon policy & practice 

The president’s constitutional authority to pardon is unlimited and considered unreviewable in the courts.  The president has relied historically upon advice from the Department of Justice.  Under justice clemency rules, a person becomes eligible to apply for a pardon five years after imposition of sentence or release from confinement; there is no public hearing and no limit on time for decision.  A pardon relieves legal disabilities and signifies rehabilitation, but it does not expunge or seal the record.  Presidential pardons have been sparing since 1980 and the process irregular under the incumbent president.  (Sentence commutations, the other main form of executive clemency, have also been infrequent under most recent presidents.)

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no general authority to expunge or seal any federal conviction, and federal courts have very limited inherent authority to grant record relief.  Deferred adjudication is authorized for first misdemeanor drug possession, with expungement if the defendant was under age 21 at time of offense.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Effective in 2021, federal agencies and contractors may not inquire into an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer has been made.  The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to bar employers from discriminating against individual based on their criminal history, absent justifying business necessity.  At the same time, federal law also disqualifies individuals with certain convictions from employment in the banking and transportation sector, and in a wide variety of state-licensed jobs in healthcare and education.

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Alabama 

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Summary: 

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of one of 47 disqualifying felonies—including murder, sexual assault, drug trafficking, and some property crimes—loses the rights to vote, to run for state office, and to serve on a jury.  The right to vote is restored upon application after completion of sentence, including payment of fines and restitution, so long as no other charges are pending.  This expedited restoration process does not apply to persons convicted of serious violent or sex offenses who may vote only if pardoned by the governor.  The rights to run for office, serve on a jury, or possess a handgun can only be restored by a pardon.  Restoration process also applies to those with federal and out-of-state convictions.

A person convicted of a violent crime loses the right to possess a handgun. This right can only be restored by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

An independent board appointed by the governor exercises pardon power independent of the governor, except in capital cases.  The board must make an annual report to governor. A person is eligible to apply upon completion of sentence or after three years of permanent parole.  The application form is simple (“intended to facilitate application by individuals who lack formal education”) and is filed with the local probation office.  A public hearing is required, with notice to officials and victim, with reasons given if denied.  There is a separate paper procedure for restoration of civil rights, also available to people with federal and out-of-state convictions.  The effect is as specified in grant, but a pardoned conviction is not sealed and serves as a predicate.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular and governed by statute; process takes about one year.  More than 500 full pardons are granted each year, 80% of those who apply, plus many more rights restorations.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  There is no general authority to expunge or seal adult convictions, including pardoned convictions, with one exception: victims of human trafficking may petition the court to expunge convictions of misdemeanors and some felonies, including certain violent felonies, that  are related to trafficking.  Expungement is authorized for non-convictions: where a misdemeanor or non-violent felony charge did not result in conviction, including where a charge was dismissed after successful completion of various diversion programs (drug, mental health and veterans’ court), or where any felony charge resulted in acquittal.  Expungement may be sought 90 days after dismissal with prejudice; for dismissal without prejudice, after two years for misdemeanors and five years for felonies.  There is an administrative fee of $300.  If the prosecutor or victim object a hearing is held, and the court has discretion to grant relief.  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.  Juvenile records may be sealed two years after final discharge or other final order, and destroyed five years after the age of majority, if the person has no prior conviction, adjudication, or pending proceeding involving violence, drugs, weapons, or sexual offenses, and any such subsequent conviction or adjudication nullifies the sealing.

Judicial certificate:  An individual who is legally barred from obtaining a specific occupational license due to a conviction may apply to the court for an “Order for Limited Relief” to permit discretionary consideration on the merits.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

An individual who is legally barred from obtaining a specific occupational license due to a conviction may apply to the court for an “Order for Limited Relief” to permit discretionary consideration on the merits.  Otherwise, Alabama has no general law regulating consideration of criminal record in employment or occupational licensing, although a few licensing schemes impose a “direct relationship” standard.  It has imposed no “ban-the-box” limits on employer inquiries at the application stage of employment, or otherwise restricted record-based employment discrimination.

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 Alaska

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, to run for state office, and to serve on a jury.  These rights are restored automatically upon completion of sentence.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a “concealable weapon” (such as a handgun) for 10 years following completion of sentence, which includes any period of parole or probation.  A person convicted of a crime against a person—such as homicide, assault, kidnapping, or robbery—loses this right permanently.

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Pardon policy & practice

The pardon power is vested in the governor, who is advised by an informal executive clemency advisory committee.  Applications are submitted to the parole board whose staff determines eligibility by unstated criteria.  If a person is deemed eligible, the parole board investigates, consults with DA and sentencing court, and prepares a confidential recommendation to the governor.  There is no provision for a hearing.  Pardon sets aside the conviction but does not expunge it; conviction may not serve as a predicate or be the basis of denial of a license, though underlying conduct may be considered. There have been no pardon grants in Alaska since 2006, when the pardon program was suspended by the legislature until January 2018.  Despite the establishment of a rigorous administrative review process at that time, there have been no grants since then.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no general authority to seal or expunge adult conviction or non-conviction records, but non-conviction records are generally confidential.  In most cases the court may defer sentencing looking toward set-aside of conviction upon successful completion of probation, except for serious violent or sexual offenses.  No affirmative showing or finding of rehabilitation need be made before a set-aside is granted; rather, a set-aside should be granted as a matter of right unless some specific reason for denial is established.  For less serious offenses, courts may also defer judgment looking toward dismissal of charges, and no conviction results.  Most non-conviction records may not be released to the public, but sealing is authorized only in cases of mistaken identity or false accusation.  Most juvenile records are confidential and are sealed within 30 days of the person’s 18th birthday or after completion of sentence whichever is later, or after a 5-year waiting period if charged as an adult.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Alaska has no general law regulating consideration of criminal record in employment or occupational licensing.  Specifically, it has adopted none of the procedural and substantive limits on consideration of criminal records adopted by other states in recent years (i.e. ban-the-box, fair chance licensing reforms, etc.).  Licensing entities may not consider pardoned convictions, although they may consider the underlying conduct.

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Arizona

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, to run for state office, and to sit on a jury.  After a first felony conviction, these rights are restored automatically upon completion of sentence if all restitution has been paid.  (Unlike unpaid restitution, unpaid fines do not affect restoration of rights.)  For those convicted of two or more felonies, or who have unpaid restitution, these rights may be restored by the court two years after completion of sentence.

A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to possess a firearm.  The court may restore this right two years after completion of sentence for most felonies, or after 10 years for a serious felony (such as murder or sexual assault).  For a person convicted of a “dangerous felony” this right may only be restored by pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

By statute, the governor’s authority to act depends upon receiving an affirmative recommendation from the board of executive clemency, which must conduct a public hearing and publish its recommendations to the governor with its reasons.  The governor must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature.  Pardon relieves the legal consequences of conviction, but it does not expunge the record, and a pardoned conviction may be used as a predicate.  Since the 1980s, Arizona governors have granted only a handful of pardons a term.  As pardons have become increasingly rare the Board has heard fewer pardon cases.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no general authority to seal or expunge adult conviction or non-conviction records. Convictions for all but violent and sex offenses may be set-aside and charges dismissed upon discharge, but no sealing or expungement results.  Set-aside relieves collateral consequences, and restores firearms rights for non-serious felonies, but conviction must be disclosed and serves as a predicate.  There is no authority for sealing or expunging non-conviction records, except that a person may obtain a notation that the person has been cleared in cases of wrongful arrests or charges.  Juvenile adjudications may be set aside upon reaching 18 years of age and discharge from sentence, except for serious violent offenses, but they serve as predicate offense; juvenile records may be destroyed under some circumstances.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

An executive order prohibits most public employers from asking individuals about their criminal history on an initial job application.  Public employers, moreover, may disqualify an applicant because of a conviction only if “the offense has a reasonable relationship to the functions” of the desired employment. The law does not explain this standard or provide for its enforcement.

Licensing entities may not consider misdemeanor convictions, non-conviction records, less serious felonies, and felonies more than seven years in the past that have been set aside.  To disqualify an applicant with other convictions, a licensing agency must determine that there is a state interest in protecting public safety that is superior to the applicant’s right to a license. Applicants may petition a licensing agency for a preliminary determination about whether a prior conviction will be disqualifying, and licensing agencies may also issue provisional licenses to “otherwise qualified” applicants.  Licensing agencies must report to the legislature on the number of applications received from and granted to persons with a criminal record.

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Arkansas

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote and to serve on a jury. The right to vote is restored automatically after completion of sentence, including payment of fines and restitution.  The right to serve on a jury can only be restored by a pardon.  A person convicted of certain crimes of dishonesty loses the right to hold state office. This right may only be restored if the disqualifying conviction is sealed or expunged.

A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right is restored only by express order of the governor or, in some cases, by sealing or expunging the conviction.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor has the constitutional power to pardon but is required by statute to consult the parole board for a non-binding recommendation before making a grant.  The board and governor must each give 30 days’ public notice of intention to recommend or grant, stating their reasons, and the governor is constitutionally required to report to the legislature on all grants.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities (except the right to hold office which is restored only by expungement) and is grounds for automatic sealing in all but cases involving serious violence; a pardoned conviction may not serve as predicate or to enhance a subsequent sentence.  Firearms rights must be expressly restored in the pardon document, and they may also be separately restored by the governor.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular and governed by statute: pardons are issued on a regular monthly basis throughout the year, about 100 each year and about 25% of those who apply.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Convictions for Class C and Class D felonies and certain drug offenses are eligible for sealing after completion of sentence and payment of court costs; misdemeanors and infractions are eligible for sealing after completion of sentence.  For violent felonies there is a 5-year waiting period and a prior felony conviction is disqualifying; for certain serious misdemeanors there is a 60-day waiting period. Class A and B felonies and sexual offenses are ineligible for sealing, as are multiple felonies for violent offenders and motor vehicle violations committed by a holder of a commercial driver’s license.  A hearing is mandatory in all felony cases, and only if the prosecutor objects in misdemeanor cases.  The court “may seal” the record of eligible felonies, “if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that doing so would further the interests of justice,” considering certain factors related to the likelihood of recidivism.  For other eligible offenses, there is a presumption in favor of sealing.  Sealing does not restore the right to carry a firearm and may be used as a predicate and to enhance a subsequent sentence.  Most pardoned offenses are sealed immediately, but certain serious offenses may not be sealed even if pardoned. Human trafficking victims may petition for sealing of prostitution offenses at any time.

Arrest records may be sealed on petition if no charges are filed within one year, and other non-conviction records may be sealed at disposition. The court “shall seal” non-conviction records, unless it finds there is a public safety risk.  No hearing is called for in non-conviction cases. Expungement (destruction) of records is available for certain drug court graduates, and automatic for juveniles upon turning 21 (or earlier, subject to the court’s discretion).

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Arkansas has no law generally restricting how employers may consider a conviction record, but relief mechanisms such as pardon and sealing are routinely available.  Licensing entities may not consider non-conviction records, misdemeanor convictions (except sex crimes), and convictions that have been pardoned or expunged.  In addition, agencies may not consider most felony convictions five years after completion of sentence with no intervening conviction, and waivers are also available. If a license is denied because of the applicant’s record, the licensing entity must provide written reasons.

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California

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison loses the right to vote, and a person convicted of “malfeasance in office” or any felony loses the right to serve on a jury.  These rights are restored automatically after completion of sentence, including any period of parole or probation.  A person convicted of vote-buying or certain other crimes of dishonesty loses the right to hold state office, a right restored only by a pardon.

A person convicted of any felony, or a misdemeanor involving weapons or domestic violence, loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right may be restored by a pardon from the governor, but only if the crime did not involve the use of a dangerous weapon.  However, firearms rights lost based on a misdemeanor conviction are automatically restored 10 years after conviction, so long as the person has no outstanding warrants.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor’s constitutional power to pardon first felony offenders is unlimited, and he is authorized but not required to consult with the parole board.  In cases where an applicant has more than one felony conviction, the constitution provides that a pardon may not issue except upon the affirmative recommendation of four supreme court justices, and in such cases he is by statute required to consult with the parole board.  A judicial certificate of rehabilitation is ordinarily the first step in the pardon process, and the parole board must make a recommendation to the governor within one year of receiving a certificate.  Pardon restores civil rights and removes occupational bars but does not expunge record and may be used as predicate.  A pardon must specifically restore firearms rights.  Under the most recent governors, a regular pardoning practice has been reestablished after a decade of neglect, but no data is available on the grant rate (measured by number of certificates received).

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Courts may dismiss charges or set aside convictions for several categories of offenses, including those resulting in a sentence to probation or to a term in county jail.  Certain minor felonies may also be reduced to misdemeanors and become eligible for dismissal or set-aside, including felonies for which sentencing was deferred (“wobblers”).  While this relief is colloquially known as “expungement,” until recently it did not limit access to the record.  Rather, it restored rights and removed disabilities, and provided certain benefits related to employment and licensing.  Effective November 18, 2019, the state repository may not disclose such records for most inquiries relating to employment or licensing; and, effective Feb. 1, 2021, courts may not disclose such records except to criminal justice agencies.  Nonetheless, a conviction that has been dismissed or set aside may be used as a predicate offense and must be disclosed in certain contexts.  A victim of human trafficking may seek to have arrests and convictions for any non-violent offense vacated and sealed.  Sealing is automatic for decriminalized and certain other marijuana convictions.  Effective Jan. 1, 2021, a process for automatic record relief will take effect for many arrests and convictions occurring on or after that date.

Most non-conviction records may be sealed upon disposition, and uncharged arrests may be sealed when the limitations period has run.  Juvenile records are generally unavailable to the public except for those related to certain more serious offenses; most juvenile adjudications may be sealed after five years (if found to be rehabilitated and no subsequent convictions of felony or crime of moral turpitude); juvenile records not resulting in adjudication are eligible for sealing upon disposition.

Judicial certificates:  Certificates of Rehabilitation (COR) are available to people with state offenses from courts in the county of their residence or the court of conviction after conviction-free waiting period of 7-10 years, and satisfaction of other statutory criteria.  A COR relieves certain licensing restrictions as well as the obligation to register as sex offender and serves as a first step in the pardon process.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits pre-employment inquiry into criminal history by public employers and private employers with five or more employees until after a conditional offer has been made.  Thereafter, employers may not consider non-conviction records, convictions that have been dismissed or set aside, pardoned convictions and convictions for which an individual has received a COR.  FEHA also requires employers to conduct individualized assessments to determine whether conviction has a “direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job,” to notify an applicant in the event of denial (though no reasons need be given), and allow the applicant to respond.

State licensing boards may not base denial on a conviction that is not “substantially related” to the qualifications for the license.  It also may not deny if charges have been dismissed or set aside, if the applicant has received a Certificate of Rehabilitation, or if the person is “deemed rehabilitated” by published licensing board standards.  Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act limits reporting by background checking companies.

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Colorado

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated.  A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to hold public office while incarcerated or on parole.  The right to serve on a jury is not affected by a conviction.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm, which is restored only by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor’s constitutional power is subject to regulation in the manner of applying, and the governor must report all grants to the legislature each year, with reasons for each.  Before acting favorably on an application, the governor must seek the views of the district attorney, sentencing judge, and prosecuting attorney.  The department of corrections is informally responsible for administering the pardon power, and the governor is advised by a non-statutory 7-member board of appointees, including corrections and law enforcement officials.  Applications are generally not accepted until 10 years after completion of sentence, and there is no hearing.  Pardon restores civil and firearms rights, signals rehabilitation and good character, but does not authorize sealing.  Until the final 18 months of Gov. Hickenlooper’s term (17-18), the pardon power had not been functioning in Colorado in a meaningful fashion for many years, and the current governor has reconstituted the pardon board.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  All but the most serious felonies are eligible for sealing after graduated waiting periods: one year after completion of sentence for petty offenses, three years for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies, and five years for other eligible felonies.  All court-ordered fees must have been paid.  If a person has multiple convictions, records may only be sealed if all offenses are eligible (the DA or court can authorize sealing for otherwise ineligible misdemeanors).  Minor drug felonies may be vacated and reduced to misdemeanors, making many of them eligible for sealing.  Victims of human trafficking may petition to seal any misdemeanor resulting from trafficking.  In these cases, the court must apply a balancing test to determine whether sealing is warranted.  For more serious felonies, the court must hold a hearing; for other offenses, the court need not hold a hearing unless the prosecutor or victim objects. Decriminalized marijuana misdemeanors must be sealed upon petition.

The following non-convictions must be sealed upon request: uncharged arrests, if the limitations period has run or the case is no longer under investigation; pre-charge diversions, if the program is completed; charges that are dismissed or acquitted, at the time of disposition; and charges subject to a diversion or deferred sentence, upon successful completion.  Expungement is mandatory for records of juvenile adjudications for petty offenses and misdemeanors or where no adjudication results; expungement is discretionary for low-level felonies after an eligibility waiting period, which is extended for people with repeat offenses.

Judicial certificates:  At the time of conviction or at any time thereafter, upon the request of the defendant or upon the court’s own motion, a court may enter an “order of collateral relief” in the criminal case to override certain collateral consequences, including employment, housing and licensing bars.  A conviction as to which there has been an order of collateral relief may not be the basis of denial of an occupational license.  All but violent offenses and offenses requiring registration are eligible.  Juvenile adjudications are also eligible.  An order of collateral relief may be enlarged at any time upon petition.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not conduct a background check until an applicant is determined to be a finalist or a conditional offer is made.  Thereafter, certain records may not be the basis for denial ((non-conviction records; pardoned, sealed, or expunged convictions; or convictions subject to a collateral relief order) and detailed standards apply to determine whether the conviction is “directly related” to the job.  Private employers with more than ten employees may not ask about individuals’ criminal histories on an initial job application, but thereafter are not subject to any limits on what records may be considered.

Licensing entities may not deny individuals an occupational or professional license based on a conviction that is not “directly related” to the license, determined by the same standards that apply to public employers.  They are also prohibited from denying a license based on non-conviction records; pardoned, sealed, or expunged convictions; or convictions subject to a collateral relief order.  Licensing authorities may issue conditional licenses to individuals with criminal records.  The General Assembly periodically reviews the agency licensing and certification processes to determine whether a record of disqualification based on criminal history public safety or commercial or consumer protection interests.

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Connecticut

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person incarcerated for a felony loses the rights to vote and to hold public office.  These rights are restored for those convicted under Connecticut law upon release from incarceration and completion of parole; federal and out-of-state offenders must also pay fines and restitution.  A person convicted of a felony loses the right to serve on a jury.  This right is restored automatically seven years after conviction, unless the person is still incarcerated.  A pardon may restore this right sooner.

A person convicted of a felony or found delinquent for a “serious juvenile offense” may not receive a permit to carry a handgun. Eligibility may be restored by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

Pardons are issued pursuant to a formal process by an independent board appointed by governor.  The board also issues lesser relief styled a “provisional pardon” or “certificate of rehabilitation.”  A person is eligible to apply for pardon five years after completion of sentence for felonies, after three years for misdemeanors.  A public hearing is required for more serious offenses, but since 2015 an expedited process has dispensed with the requirement of a hearing for about 2/3 of those that apply and are eligible.  A pardon relieves all legal disabilities, and it is the basis for a court order “erasing” the conviction.  Erasure results in destruction of the record after three years, after which the conviction has no predicate effect.  Certificates of rehabilitation (sometimes styled certificates of employability) are available at any time after sentencing to remove mandatory bars to certain employment or licenses, and they are available to individuals with out-of-state and federal convictions.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: the overall pardon grant rate for those who are eligible has increased in the past five years from under 50% in 2013 to over 75% in 2018.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record Relief:  Pardons are the primary vehicle for record relief for convictions in Connecticut, and pardoned convictions are granted generously by an appointed administrative board, then “erased” (expunged) upon petition.  Upon the subject’s request, records that have been erased are physically destroyed after three years.  Records of individuals under the age of 21 who were adjudicated as a “youthful offender,” are automatically erased upon reaching age 21, if they had no subsequent felony convictions.  Several programs for diversion or deferred adjudication may also result in erasure, and victims of human trafficking may seek erasure of prostitution convictions.  Where the erasure statute applies, a court may proceed on its own motion to dismiss charges, and records will automatically be erased.  A person’s criminal record must be erased in the event of acquittal or dismissal, and the state and its agencies may not use non-conviction records in connection with employment or licensure.  Partial sealing is available for charges dismissed in a conviction case, but only for electronic databases.  Juveniles adjudicated delinquent, who are at least 18 years old, may petition for erasure of their records after two years for less serious offenses, and four years for more serious ones.

Certificates of Relief: The pardon board or court supervisory agency may issue certificates of rehabilitation in cases that do not yet qualify for a full pardon, to give relief from legal barriers to employment and/or licensure.  They may be sought at any time after sentencing for the purpose of promoting rehabilitation.  Individuals convicted under federal law or the law of another state are eligible for a COR if they reside or do business in the state. 

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public and private employers may not ask individuals whether they have a criminal record when they initially apply for employment.  Public employers and licensing agencies may not disqualify a person automatically on the grounds of a prior conviction but must consider the relationship of the crime to the job, information pertaining to rehabilitation, and time elapsed since conviction. If a conviction is used as a basis for rejection, the applicant is entitled to written reasons for rejection. Employers and licensing agencies may not inquire about or consider convictions that have been erased, and they must give effect to provisional pardons.

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Delaware

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote and to sit on a jury.  The right to vote is restored after completion of sentence, except for specified serious offenses.  Restoration of vote not dependent on payment of fines and restitution. The right to sit on a jury can only be restored by a pardon from the governor.  A person convicted of an “infamous crime,” as determined by a court, loses the right to hold state office.  This right cannot be restored by a pardon.

A person convicted of a felony, a specified violent crime, or a drug crime loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right may be restored by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor has the power to pardon but may not act without an affirmative recommendation from a clemency board composed of senior government officials, chaired by the lieutenant governor.  A person is eligible to apply 3-5 years following completion of sentence, depending on seriousness of the offense, and earlier in extraordinary circumstances.  Public hearings are held at regular monthly intervals, and board recommendations and reasons are announced at hearing.  The process takes about 6 months.  A pardon relieves all legal disabilities except constitutional provisions barring someone convicted of “infamous crime” from holding state office.  As of 2019, a pardoned conviction is eligible for discretionary expungement, but it may still be used as predicate.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: more than 400 pardons have been granted annually in recent years; about 80% of those whose cases went to hearing.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Cases “terminated in favor of the accused,” including acquittals, dismissal after probation before judgment, dismissal of all charges, and arrests that are not charged within 1 year of the arrest, must be expunged upon application to the state records repository.  Records of violations must be expunged three years after conviction; less serious misdemeanor convictions, including decriminalized marijuana offenses and some domestic violence offenses, must be expunged after five years, also by the repository. More serious misdemeanors and a single non-violent felony may be expunged by the court if the person has no prior or subsequent convictions, after waiting periods ranging from three to seven years, with the burden on the petitioner to show “manifest injustice.” Pardoned convictions may also be expunged.  Expungement means that all law-enforcement agency records and court records are “destroyed, segregated, or placed in the custody of the State Bureau of Identification,” and are not released except to law enforcement and the courts.  Victims of human trafficking convicted of any crime except a violent felony may petition for pardon or vacatur, with expungement to follow in either case.  Juvenile records may be expunged under a bifurcated scheme analogous to the one applicable to criminal records, with expungement mandatory in some cases and discretionary in others, with certain “prohibitions to expungement.”

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not inquire into applicants’ criminal records until a conditional employment offer has been made, and at that point criminal records can be disqualifying only they are if job-related and “consistent with business necessity.”  Delaware has no comparable “ban-the-box” law applicable to private employers.  Occupational or professional licenses may be denied or revoked only if a conviction or pending prosecution of a crime is “substantially related” to the occupation.  Agencies must publish lists of disqualifying crimes, and make provision for waiver where an applicant is professionally qualified and poses no public safety risk.

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District of Columbia

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony or incarcerated for certain misdemeanor election law or lobbying violations, loses the rights to vote and to serve on the D.C. Council, but only while incarcerated.  In addition, a person convicted of a felony while serving on the D.C. Council loses the right to hold that office.  A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to serve on a jury.  The court may restore this right one year after completion of sentence, but it will usually wait 10 years.

A person convicted of a felony, violent crime, or specified weapons violations, or who is under indictment for a crime or violence of weapons offense, may not register a firearm. A person convicted within the last five years of any drug crime, of misdemeanor domestic violence or stalking, or two or more DUIs, may not register a firearm. No mechanism for restoration is specified.

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Pardon policy & practice

Only the president can pardon D.C. Code criminal offenses.  Under Justice Department regulations there is a five-year eligibility period (after completion of sentence or release from confinement).  There is no hearing, and no time limit on process.  In 2018 a specialized clemency board to consider only D.C. Code offenses was established by the D.C. City Council, but it has not been funded.  Pardons are rare: Presidential clemency of any kind for D.C. Code offenses has been extremely rare in the past thirty years.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Sealing is available for selected “eligible” misdemeanor convictions, one felony conviction (failure to appear), non-convictions, and certain specialized authorities for decriminalized conduct, actual innocence cases, and victims of human trafficking. Except for the specialized authorities, applicable waiting periods for all arrests and convictions must be satisfied before sealing, unless a person waives the right to seal records not yet eligible.

For convictions, there is an 8-year waiting period after completion of sentence, during which the petitioner may not have a “disqualifying” arrest or conviction (any subsequent conviction and any pending charge in any jurisdiction, other than for a traffic offense, disorderly conduct, or an offense punishable by a fine only, except an ineligible misdemeanor).  Records of arrests or charges not resulting in conviction may be sealed after two years if the arrest or charges were for an “eligible” misdemeanor, and four years for any other offense (three years if the case was terminated before prosecution), unless the person has had any “disqualifying” arrests or convictions, which extends the waiting period to five years (misdemeanors) and 10 years (felonies), or make sealing unavailable in deferred sentencing cases.  The court must determine whether sealing is “in the interests of justice,” weighing certain required and discretionary factors.

At any time, a person may seek sealing on grounds of actual innocence, decriminalized conduct, or, for all but specified violent and sexual offenses, conduct resulting from having been a victim of trafficking.  If a record of arrest or conviction is sealed, its subject may deny it in most situations, except that access is authorized for certain law enforcement, court, employment, and licensing purposes.  Juvenile records may be sealed after two years once the person is 18, if there have been no subsequent convictions.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public and private employers with more than ten employees may not ask about or consider criminal history until a conditional offer is made.  Thereafter, they may not consider non-convictions, but there are no standards for considering convictions.  Occupational and professional licenses may not be denied unless a conviction “bears directly upon the fitness” of the person seeking the license, but the law makes no provision for enforcement.  Sealed criminal records remain available to public employers, licensing boards, and schools/childcare organizations.

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Florida

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.  With exceptions for certain serious crimes, the right to vote is restored automatically after completion of sentence, including any period of parole and payment of fines and restitution.  The rights to hold office and to serve on a jury can be restored by the governor with the approval of the Clemency Board.  Under current rules, a person convicted of a minor felony must wait five years after completing their sentence to apply, and a person convicted of a more serious felony must wait seven years.

A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right can only be restored by the governor, with the approval of the Clemency Board, eight years after completion of sentence.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor and three cabinet officials act as pardon board; governor decides with concurrence of two of those officials.  The governor must report pardons and grants to restore civil rights to the legislature.  Pardon eligibility begins ten years following completion of sentence.  Restoration of rights is also available from the pardon board, with eligibility from five to seven years after completion of sentence, depending on seriousness of offense; firearms restoration is available eight years after completion of sentence.  A public hearing is required for pardon, and for restoration of voting rights for more serious offenses.  Pardon relieves collateral consequences but may serve as predicate.  The pardon process is regular but full pardons have been infrequent in recent years.  About 300-400 grants to restore civil rights are made each year.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge adult convictions, including pardoned convictions, with the limited exception of convictions of victims of human trafficking.  Courts have discretion to order sealing of some non-conviction records and expungement of others, if the person has no prior convictions and no prior expungements, unless the charges arose under a long list of crimes of violence or sexual misconduct.  Records of “withheld” cases (deferred adjudication) may be sealed if the charges are otherwise eligible, and the person has no prior convictions or expungements. Notwithstanding other eligibility requirements, a person found to have acted in lawful self-defense may have the record expunged.  A 2019 law authorized the creation of an automated process for sealing eligible non-conviction records.

Expungement results in destruction of the record, while sealing permits limited law enforcement, employment, and licensing access.  Before petitioning a court to expunge a criminal record, a person must apply to the department of law enforcement for a certificate of eligibility.  Sealing is available to victims of human trafficking if their offense or alleged offense was related to the trafficking.  Juvenile records are generally confidential except for serious offenses, and expungement is available for non-judicial records of a first-offense non-violent misdemeanor, after successful completion of diversion.  Expungement for more serious juvenile adjudications is available once the person reaches the age of 26.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Florida does not limit application-stage inquiries into criminal history, and public employers and occupational licensing agencies may disqualify job applicants if their convictions “directly relate” to the job.  Bars to employment or licensing in healthcare professions may be waived on a case-by-case basis.  Licensing in construction and cosmetology trades subject to standards more favorable to individuals with a record.  What protections exist do not apply to private employers.

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Georgia

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony “involving moral turpitude” (interpreted as any felony) loses the rights to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.  The right to vote is restored upon completion of sentence, including payment of fines and restitution.  The rights to hold public office and serve on a jury may be restored by the Board of Pardons, except that in the case of office eligibility ten years must also have elapsed since completion of sentence.

A person convicted of any felony loses the right to possess a firearm, and may regain it through a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

An independent board appointed by the governor exercises the pardon power, reporting annually to legislature, the governor, and the attorney general.  The board issues pardons both with and without restoration of firearms rights.  The board may also restore civil and political rights to persons with federal and out-of-state convictions.  Eligibility for pardon five years after completion of sentence (including payment of court debt), restoration of rights after two years.  People with sex offenses must wait 10 years.  The board conducts a paper review, decides by majority vote, and issues a written decision.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities except public office, and it is effective to remove from the sex offender registry.  However, it does not expunge the record, and a pardoned conviction may be used as a predicate.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: in recent years between 400 and 600 pardons and restorations have been granted each year, about 60% with firearms restoration.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge most adult convictions, including pardoned convictions.  Automatic “record restriction” of administrative records and judicial sealing of court records are available for first-time drug convictions, youthful misdemeanor offenses, dispositions in “accountability courts,” and non-conviction records.  Sealing will be granted if the court finds that “the harm otherwise resulting to the privacy of the individual clearly outweighs the public interest in the criminal history record information being publicly available.” A discharge without adjudication after the completion of probation for first felony offenders “completely exonerates” the defendant, seals the court record, and prohibits use of the record to deny employment except in limited cases (e.g., working with vulnerable populations).  Juvenile records may be sealed upon petition to the court after a two-year waiting period and a finding of rehabilitation, and juvenile victims of human trafficking may petition for sealing of sex offenses related to the trafficking.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

An executive order prohibits most public employers from asking about individuals’ criminal records when they initially apply for employment.  Private employers are not subject to any similar restriction.  Occupational licenses may not be denied or revoked based on conviction of a felony that does not “directly relate” to the license, as determined by a multifactor test. There is no provision for enforcement of this provision.

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Hawaii

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated.  A person convicted of a felony also loses the rights to hold public office and serve on a jury.  The right to hold public office is restored upon completion of sentence (including parole), but the right to serve on a jury can be restored only by a pardon.

A person convicted of a felony, a crime of violence, or an illegal drug sale loses the right to possess a firearm.  (This includes persons under 25 adjudicated for such an offense.)  This right can be restored only by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor issues pardons and is authorized but not required to consult the parole board for a recommendation.  The board investigates each case and interviews the applicant, but there is no public hearing.  It then makes a recommendation to the attorney general’s office, which conducts its own investigation and makes a recommendation to the governor.  Five-year eligibility waiting period, with all fines paid and no pending charges.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities but does not expunge the record, and a pardoned conviction may be used as a predicate.  The pardon process is regular, but pardons have been infrequent in recent years.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge adult convictions, with two exceptions: convictions for prostitution and related offenses may be vacated and sealed by the court after a three-year waiting period if there are no subsequent convictions; convictions for possession of three ounces or less of marijuana (decriminalized) may be expunged.  There is no authority to expunge or seal pardoned convictions.  Deferred adjudication is available for nonviolent first-time offenses, and the record may be expunged after one year upon application to the court and attorney general.  Deferred adjudication is also an option for those who are convicted of first-time drug possession, with expungement available if the crime was committed under the age of 20.

Non-conviction information is not publicly accessible except to criminal justice agencies and agencies authorized by law; upon application by the subject, the attorney general will expunge a record of arrest if no conviction resulted, and the individual may also apply to the court for expungement of court records. Juvenile records are confidential; courts may expunge juvenile records if no charges were brought, or the individual was held not responsible.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

State fair employment practices law prohibits public and private employers from asking about criminal history until a conditional offer has been made.  The conditional offer may be withdrawn only if a criminal conviction is within last ten years and has a “rational relationship” to the duties required by the position.  Non-conviction records may not be the basis of an adverse decision.  Hawaii also limits consideration of conviction in occupational licensing.  A crime committed more than 10 years in the past may only be considered if it “directly relates” to the occupation, after an investigation to determine whether the person is sufficiently rehabilitated.

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Idaho

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, including a suspended sentence, loses the rights to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.  These rights are restored automatically upon completion of any period of imprisonment, parole, or probation.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  Except for certain serious violent crimes, this right is restored upon completion of sentence.  For serious violent crimes, the right may only be restored by the Commission for Pardons and Parole no earlier than five years after completion of the sentence.

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Pardon policy & practice

An independent board appointed by governor unilaterally grants pardon except for crimes involving serious violence and drugs, which must be approved by the governor.  The reasons for each pardon must be filed with Secretary of State.  Eligibility begins three years after completion of sentence for non-violent offenses and after five years for violent offenses.  An extensive application process and full hearing is required.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities, including firearms rights, but is not grounds for expungement.  The pardon process is regular, and a high percentage of those that apply are granted.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge adult convictions, including pardoned convictions, with one exception: victims of human trafficking convicted of prostitution may petition “to vacate such conviction and/or to expunge the criminal history records.” Any defendant who was convicted and not sentenced to a prison term may apply to the sentencing court upon discharge for a reduction of the conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor, if at least 5 years have elapsed since discharge, or earlier if the prosecutor so stipulates.  The defendant must not have been convicted of any further felony or have charges pending, and the court must find “good cause.”

The court has broad authority to defer judgment and set-aside a guilty plea and dismiss the charges upon completion of probation.  Only treason, murder and sex offenses are not eligible. The dismissal “shall have the effect of restoring the defendant to his civil rights,” including firearms rights, but there is no authority to expunge or seal the record.  Other non-conviction records may be sealed upon request to the state police after one year.  Juvenile adjudications, except for serious offenses, may be expunged after a waiting period (five years for felonies, one year for misdemeanors). After a hearing, the court shall grant expungement petition if it finds the person has been held accountable, is a contributing member of society, and expungement will not risk public safety.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Idaho has no law generally regulating consideration of criminal record in employment or occupational licensing.  A pardon relieves employment disabilities imposed by state law or administrative regulation, and specific licensed professions may have standards for considering criminal record.

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Illinois

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated.  A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to hold public office.  Except for election-fraud convictions, the right to hold statewide office is restored upon completion of sentence.  But the right to hold other elected office is restored only by a pardon.  A conviction does not affect the right to serve on a jury.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right may be restored at the discretion of the State Police or a local court if specified standards are met, or if expressly provided in a gubernatorial pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized to consult with the prisoner review board, which holds public hearings quarterly and provides confidential recommendations to the governor.  No eligibility restrictions.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities and authorizes expungement if pardon expressly provides.  Board hears about 800 applications each year, 30% from people with misdemeanors.  The past several governors have pardoned frequently and regularly pursuant to recommendations from the PRB.  In 2019, the governor used his pardon power to authorize expungement of more than 11,000 marijuana convictions, pursuant to statutory authorization.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Most misdemeanor and felony convictions are eligible for sealing upon petition three years after termination of the person’s most recent sentence, if they have no intervening findings of guilt.  Eligibility does not depend upon payment of court debt, and restitution may be reduced to a civil judgment.  Ineligible offenses include DUI, sex crimes, animal care crimes, and domestic battery.  The only convictions that may be expunged (as opposed to sealed) are those that have been pardoned (if the pardon document so authorizes).  Immediate sealing is available for victims of human trafficking for any offense related to the trafficking.  Sealed records of felonies may be released pursuant to state or federal laws requiring a background check.

Deferred adjudication is available for first-time nonviolent felony offenses, with expungement five years after successful completion of probation. Sealing of non-conviction records is available immediately upon disposition.  Non-convictions may be expunged, but any prior conviction makes a person ineligible.  Nonetheless, marijuana arrests and convictions may be expunged pursuant to a tiered procedure involving automatic relief for non-conviction records and minor possession offenses, and relief by petition for more serious offense.  Most juvenile records are automatically expunged after a waiting period that varies from zero to two years, except that those adjudicated for more serious felonies must petition for expungement after two years.  All juvenile records which have not been expunged are sealed.

Judicial certificates:  Courts are authorized to issue two types of certificates.  A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities addresses licensing restrictions and creates an enforceable “presumption of rehabilitation” that must be given effect by a licensing board.  A Certificate of Good Conduct lifts mandatory employment, licensing and housing bars, and evidences the individual’s rehabilitation.  Certificates may be issued by the sentencing court, either at the time of sentencing or upon satisfactory completion of sentence, or by the circuit court to those convicted of federal and out-of-state offenses, after a brief waiting period.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public and private employers with more than 15 employees are prohibited from asking about criminal history until an initial interview or conditional offer is made, but this law provides no standards for considering a record.  The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits both public and private employers from inquiring about or discriminating based on non-conviction records, juvenile records, or expunged or sealed records.  A court may issue a “Certificate of Good Conduct,” to relieve a person of mandatory employment bars.

Comprehensive standards apply to occupational licensing for most non-healthcare professions. Before denying a license based on conviction, agencies must consider certain mitigating factors and evidence of rehabilitation, and written reasons must be provided for denials.  Licensing agencies may not consider juvenile adjudications, sealed or expunged records, uncharged arrests, dismissed charges unless related to the profession, and overturned convictions.  Offenses that serve as a bar to licensure must be listed online.  The sentencing court may issue a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, which creates an enforceable “presumption of rehabilitation” for the purposes of licensing.  A Certificate of Good Conduct is also available to avoid mandatory licensing bars.

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Indiana

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of any “infamous crime” loses the right to vote and serve on a jury, but only while incarcerated.  A person convicted of a felony loses the right to hold public office, a right that can only be restored by expungement or a pardon from the governor.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm, and this right is restored to those convicted of less serious crimes by expungement or by a pardon after 15 years, or earlier under certain circumstances.  Persons convicted of a “serious violent felony” may regain firearms rights only by a pardon.  Persons convicted of domestic battery may not possess a handgun, and they may petition the court for restoration after five years.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult with the parole board, which may make non-binding recommendations to the governor.  The governor must report annually to legislature on each grant at its next scheduled meeting.  The board notifies victims, court, and prosecutor, and it investigates and holds a hearing where petitioner and interested parties are given an opportunity to be heard.  Recent governors have required a five-year waiting period and evidence of rehabilitation, with a 15-year waiting period for firearms restoration.  Pardon alleviates collateral consequences and serves as basis for automatic expungement.  Process is regular but pardons are infrequent.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Judicial expungement is mandatory, upon petition to the court, for non-conviction records, misdemeanors, and eligible less-serious felonies; expungement is discretionary for more serious felonies.  Eligibility waiting periods range from one year for non-conviction records to ten years following completion of sentence for the most serious felonies.  After expungement, non-conviction records, and records of misdemeanors and minor felonies are sealed; more serious felonies remain public but are “marked as expunged.”  Convictions of victims of human trafficking may be vacated and expunged as a non-conviction record, and pardoned convictions are automatically expunged and sealed.  Certain offenses are ineligible for expungement, and anyone convicted of such offenses is not eligible for expungement of any otherwise eligible crimes (such offenses include sexual or violent offenses, misconduct in office, or two or more separate felonies involving unlawful use of a deadly weapon).  Courts may expunge juvenile records at any time upon petition.

Expungement may be granted without a hearing unless the prosecutor objects; all fines and fees must be paid and no charges may be pending.  Where expungement is sought for a conviction, a petitioner may seek to expunge multiple convictions in multiple courts, but all petitions must be filed within one year; after that year, a person may not file another petition in their lifetime.  Once records are expunged, only a criminal justice agency may access them without a court order. Expungement restores rights (including firearms to all but serious violent offenders), limits employer/licensing inquiry, protects against discrimination, and bars reporting by private background screeners. Administrative sealing of convictions is also available from the state police after 15 years.  Deferral or continuance of prosecution is available for a “drug abuser” or “alcoholic” charged with a less serious felony, if they have no more than one prior conviction.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

There is no general law limiting consideration of criminal record in employment, but broad nondiscrimination protection for expunged and sealed offenses, including limits on reporting by background screeners.  Ban-the-box is provided by executive order for executive branch employment on initial job applications, but local ban-the-box provisions are prohibited by statute, and no law covers private employers.  There is negligent hiring protection for expunged and sealed offenses.

The occupational and professional licensing process is subject to extensive regulation, with licensing agencies required to 1) list “crimes that may disqualify an individual,” which must “directly” relate to the duties of the occupation; 2) consider whether to disqualify due to a “conviction of concern” pursuant to standards, and terminate the period of disqualification  five years after conviction (except crimes involving sex or violence) if the person has no subsequent conviction; and 3) give written reasons for denial “by clear and convincing evidence sufficient for review by a court.”  Similar requirements extend to licenses granted by units of county and local government.

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Iowa

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of an “infamous crime” (one punishable by imprisonment) loses the rights to vote and hold public office, with some exceptions.  These rights may only be restored by action of the governor, who ordinarily requires completion of sentence and satisfaction of court debt, though provisional restoration is available earlier.  A person convicted of a felony may be dismissed from a jury because of their conviction, but they are not automatically ineligible.  Those with federal or out-of-state convictions may regain their voting rights through the gubernatorial restoration process, or by restoration in the jurisdiction of their conviction.

A person convicted of a felony, or convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right can only be restored by the governor at least five years after completion of sentence.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor’s pardon power is subject to statutory regulation, and he is required to consider non-binding recommendations from the parole board.  The governor must report to the legislature every two years on his pardons, with the reasons for each one.  For restoration of rights, application may be filed upon completion of sentence, including payment of court costs.  For a full pardon, applications may be submitted at any time, but by policy the governor requires a ten-year waiting period after completion of sentence for pardon.  There is a five-year waiting period for firearms restoration.  People with out-of-state and federal offenses are eligible for restoration of rights, but they may also have rights restored in the jurisdiction of conviction.  Pardons relieve legal disabilities but do not result in expungement or sealing.  Pardoning in Iowa is infrequent but the process relatively regular: of the few people who apply for pardon or restoration of firearms, a substantial percentage (30%) get relief.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

A single misdemeanor conviction may be expunged by the court if at least eight years have passed since completion of sentence and the person has no other convictions or pending criminal charges, has not previously been granted more than one deferred judgment, and has paid all financial obligations ordered by the court, including indigent counsel fees. A lengthy list of ineligible crimes includes weapons offenses, misuse of public office, livestock abuse, and a variety of violent or sexual offenses.  A person may be granted only one expungement in a lifetime. There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge felony convictions or pardoned convictions.  Deferred adjudication, followed by expungement of records, is available for first offenses; however, it may be used to enhance punishment for a subsequent offense.  Records of acquittals and dismissed charges (excluding deferred adjudication) may be expunged after 180 days, but only if all court debt has been paid.  Juvenile records are presumptively confidential if they do not involve a forcible felony offense, but forcible felony records may be made confidential upon petition; juvenile records may be sealed upon petition after a two-year waiting period if the juvenile is at least age 18 and has no subsequent offenses.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

There are no general laws limiting or regulating the consideration of criminal history in employment or licensing, though certain occupational licenses are subject to a “direct relationship” standard.  Licensing is facilitated for electrician, plumber, mechanical, contractor, and barbering licenses.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities, including public employment disabilities.

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Kansas

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, serve on a jury, and hold public office, which are restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including payment of fines and restitution, except that jury ineligibility extend for ten years after the date of conviction.

A person convicted of a “person” felony or analogous juvenile offense loses the right to possess a firearm for ten years, unless the offense involved a firearm in which case the loss is permanent.  A person convicted of a nonperson felony loses the right to possess a firearm for five years, unless the offense involved a firearm in which case the loss is for 10 years.  Expungement may cut short any of these loss periods.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor is required to consult with the prisoner review board before issuing any pardon, but its advice is not binding.  The governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature each year.  There are no eligibility requirements, and no hearing, but applicants are 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 the conviction.  Pardons in Kansas are rare, with expungement the preferred restoration remedy.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Expungement of convictions is available upon petition to the court for all but serious violent and sexual offenses, following a waiting period of three to five years after completion of sentence.  There is a  presumption in favor of expungement if the petitioner has not been convicted of a felony in the past two years, no charges are pending, and the court finds that “the circumstances and behavior of the petitioner warrant the expungement” and expungement is “consistent with the public welfare.”  Victims of human trafficking may petition for expungement of prostitution convictions and diversions after one year.  A person must be informed at each stage of the criminal process about the possibility of obtaining expungement, including upon release from prison. After expungement, a person “shall be treated as not having been arrested, convicted or diverted of the crime,” except that the expunged conviction may be considered in a subsequent criminal proceeding.

Non-conviction records may be expunged on petition if the court finds either that the person was acquitted, or that expungement would be “in the best interests of justice and charges have been dismissed or no charges have been or are likely to be filed.”  There is a filing fee of up to $195 to expunge non-conviction and conviction records.  Juvenile records may be expunged after a hearing if the court finds that the person is at least age 23 or two years have passed since final discharge, there have been no subsequent convictions or adjudication, no charges are pending, and the petitioner’s circumstances and behavior warrant expungement.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

It is a misdemeanor offense for an employer to ask about a job applicant’s criminal records without their consent.  Executive branch employers are prohibited from asking about criminal record at the application stage, but there are no standards to guide decision-making thereafter, and no laws apply to private employers or non-executive branch public agencies.  Individuals may be required to disclose expunged convictions when applying for certain licenses or public employment positions. Conviction may be considered in licensure but may not operate as a bar.  Most licensing boards must list disqualifying crimes, less serious offenses may not be considered after five years, and non-conviction records may not be considered at all.  Aspirants may seek preliminary nonbinding advisory opinion as to whether conviction will be disqualifying, for which a maximum fee of $50 may be charged.

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Kentucky

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.  These rights may be restored by personal action of the governor, including by a “partial pardon” after completion of sentence and payment of restitution. For certain lower-level felonies, the right to vote may also be restored by judicial expungement.  Federal and out-of-state convictions are subject to the same restoration regime as Kentucky convictions.  An executive order in December 2019 restored the right to vote and hold office to all but those convicted of the most serious crimes, upon completion of sentence (not including payment of restitution and other court debt).

A person convicted of a felony after July 15, 1994 loses the right to possess any firearm.  A person convicted prior to that date loses only handgun rights.  These rights can be restored only by pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board and is not bound by its advice.  The governor must report to legislature annually on pardons granted with reasons.  Applicants must wait seven years after completion of sentence before applying, and no public hearing.  Pardon power also used to restore right to vote and hold office upon expiration of sentence if no pending charges, and people with federal and out-of-state offenses eligible for this relief.  Full pardon relieves all legal disabilities, but no expungement and may be used as predicate.  Pardons have customarily been issued at the end of a Kentucky governor’s term, and Governor Bevin issued hundreds of pardons in December 2019 as he was leaving office.  His successor Governor Andy Beshear restored the vote by executive order to many thousands convicted of non-violent crimes during his first days in office.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Courts are authorized upon petition to vacate specified Class D felony convictions and pardoned convictions, dismiss the charges, and expunge the record five years after completion of sentence, with no intervening convictions and no charges pending.  There is a filing fee of $50 and an “expungement fee” of $250 that must be paid in full before expungement will be ordered.  Expungement of a single misdemeanor conviction (or series of misdemeanors arising from the same incident) is mandatory five years after completion of sentence if there are no intervening convictions or charges pending; expungement of multiple misdemeanors is discretionary.  Expungement of prostitution convictions not involving violence is available to victims of human trafficking 60 days after the judgment.

Pretrial diversion leading to expungement is available to a person charged with a Class D felony offense (or with court permission Class C felonies) who has had no prior felony convictions within a ten-year period.  After March 2020, the court is required to automatically expunge non-conviction records upon disposition in cases of acquittal or dismissal with prejudice; for cases disposed of prior to that time, expungement is mandatory upon petition after 60 days without a hearing.  In cases where felony charges have not been indicted after 60 days, expungement is also mandatory upon petition after notice to the district attorney.  Dismissals without prejudice are eligible for expungement after a three-year waiting period for felonies, and a one-year period for misdemeanors.  Expungement is available for juvenile offenses, excluding sex offenses and violent offenses, after a two-year waiting period; expungement of juvenile records not resulting in adjudication is automatic at time of disposition.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

An executive order prohibits executive branch employers from asking about individuals’ criminal history until after an initial interview, and the standards described above guide decision-making thereafter.  The order does not apply to other public employers in the state, or to private employers.  A pardon may be useful in lifting barriers to some public employment, but gubernatorial restoration of rights is not.  Public employment and occupational licensure may not be denied based on conviction unless it “directly relates” to the position or license at issue.  Employers and licensing boards must provide applicants with written notice of the reasons for a denial and an opportunity to be heard, and in the case of licensure with an opportunity to personally appear before the board prior to the final decision.  An applicant has the right to judicial review of a denial.

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Louisiana

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote while “under an order of imprisonment,” which includes probation under a suspended sentence and parole, except that a person may apply for restoration of the vote if they have not been incarcerated in the last five years.  Eligibility for jury service is lost upon conviction and is restored only by pardon.  Eligibility for elective office is not affected by conviction.

A person convicted of specified crimes, including some violent felonies, weapons offenses, and sex offenses, loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right is restored automatically 10 years after completion of sentence, or sooner by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor may not grant a pardon without the affirmative recommendation of the parole board.  Eligibility begins after completion of sentence, plus payment of costs.  Public hearings held at regular intervals, with approval of 4/5 board members required.  Prosecutor and victims must be notified by board and applicant must publish notice in newspaper.  Full pardon restores “status of innocence,” and may not be used as predicate or to enhance sentence.  Statutory first offender pardon automatically restores civil rights, and as of 2019 is grounds for expungement, but it does not restore firearms rights or preclude use of a conviction in subsequent prosecution or sentencing.  Pardoning has become frequent and regular under the current governor (John Bel Edwards), who issued 167 pardons in his first term, reviving a process that had languished under his predecessor.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Eligible convictions may be expunged upon motion ten years after completion of sentence for felonies and five years for misdemeanors, if there have been no intervening convictions and no pending charges.  Violent offenses, sex offenses, crimes against minors, domestic abuse, and drug trafficking offenses are ineligible.  Persons entitled to “first offender pardons” are eligible for immediate expungement, specifically including drug crimes.  Expungement of felonies may be granted only once every 15 years (except for deferred adjudication cases), and misdemeanor expungements only once every five years (except for DUI convictions which must wait 10 years).  Expunged records are not publicly available but may be accessed by law enforcement and certain licensing agencies and may serve as predicates.

Expungement is authorized following deferred adjudication for certain noncapital felonies, and other non-conviction records may be expunged “at any time.”  A felony arrest that resulted in a misdemeanor conviction may be expunged.  Non-adjudication juvenile records may be expunged at age 17; misdemeanor adjudications may be expunged two years after satisfaction of judgement; felony adjudications, excluding certain serious offenses, may be expunged two years after satisfaction of judgement, with no subsequent weapons offenses and no pending charges.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not ask about criminal history for unclassified state service positions until after interview or conditional offer.  General standards are provided for decisions thereafter relating to time elapsed since crime, its severity, and relationship to employment.  Protection is provided from negligent hiring liability.

A licensing agency “shall issue” an occupational or professional license to an otherwise qualified convicted person unless the conviction involves sex or violence, or it is a felony that “directly relates” to the specific occupation or profession.  No standards for determining relationship are provided.  However, any denial based in whole or in part on criminal record must explicitly state in writing the reasons for the decision.  Judicial review is provided.  Specified occupations are exempt, including many relating to health, education, finance, and law enforcement.  Exempt agencies are required to report to legislature actions involving license applications by convicted individuals, and the governor is required to conduct periodic reviews of the standards applied by occupational licensing agencies.  Expunged records are available to many licensing agencies but apparently primarily those that are exempt.

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Maine

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

The rights to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury are not affected by a conviction.

A person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for at least one year, or a crime involving the use of a dangerous weapon, loses the right to possess a firearm.  A juvenile adjudicated for any analogous offense also loses firearms rights.  A person may be issued a permit to possess a black powder gun five years after completion of sentence except where the crime involved use of a dangerous weapon, but restoration of other firearms rights may only be by a full pardon.  A juvenile adjudicated for a non-violent offense loses rights only for three years or until turning 18.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor’s constitutional pardon power is subject to regulation “relative to the manner of applying,” but the only regulation relates to the applicant’s obligation to notify the prosecutor and post a notice in the newspaper in county of conviction prior to a hearing.  The governor is advised by a non-statutory advisory board that he appoints.  Eligibility begins five years after completion of sentence; public hearings are held at regular intervals, and the board makes confidential recommendations to governor after an investigation by the Department of Corrections. Pardon relieves all legal disabilities and evidences rehabilitation, and results in the record being given the same degree of confidentiality as a non-conviction record.  Pardons have been infrequent and the process irregular in recent years.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge adult convictions. Non-conviction records, including the records of charges dismissed after deferred adjudication, may not be publicly disseminated after one year, if no prosecution is pending, except that disclosure may be made to any person who makes a specific inquiry about whether a named individual was arrested or charged “on a specific date.”  Pardoned convictions are treated like non-conviction records, except that they may upon petition be deleted from the FBI records ten years after final discharge.  Juvenile records may be sealed upon petition after a three-year waiting period if there are no subsequent adjudications or convictions.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

State employers are prohibited from inquiring about criminal history on employment applications, but the law provides no standards for decisions thereafter.  Employers in other political subdivisions, including schools, are not covered.  Maine does not otherwise regulate consideration of criminal record in employment.  Even if they are expunged, criminal records may be used to limit or prevent licensing.

Maine limits consideration of conviction in the granting any occupational license issued by the State, placing stricter limits on less serious or dated convictions, or convictions that have been pardoned or set aside.  For crimes that call for less than a year of incarceration, an agency may deny only where conviction “directly relates” to the license (a term that is not defined) or if it determines that the person is not sufficiently rehabilitated.  In this event, the agency must provide a written reason for its decision.  Some licenses have a three-year look-back period, and others a 10-year period.

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Maryland

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote and hold office only while incarcerated, unless the conviction was for buying or selling votes.  A person sentenced to more than one year of imprisonment is ineligible for jury service unless pardoned.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm, including antique weapons.  Persons convicted of a felony and certain misdemeanors who possess a “regulated firearm” (handgun or automatic weapon) are subject to enhanced penalties.  These rights can only be restored by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides, and he is authorized (but not required) to consult with the parole commission for non-binding advice.  Constitution requires governor to publish notice of intent to pardon in newspaper and to report each pardon, with reasons, to legislature.  Eligibility under formal regulations requires only completion of sentence, but informal parole commission guidelines require 10 crime-free years after completion of sentence to be eligible (or seven years with parole commission waiver), five years for misdemeanors, and 20 years for crimes of violence and for controlled substances violations.  Paper review by parole board.  Pardon lifts all legal disabilities and penalties imposed by conviction; firearms restoration must be express in pardon.  Pardoned non-violent first offenses are eligible for expungement.  Pardoning varies with the administration: the current governor (J.B. Pritzker) has commuted a handful of prison sentences since taking office in 2015, but he has issued no pardons.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Expungement is authorized for 100 enumerated misdemeanors upon petition 10 years after completion of sentence, and for a handful of felonies (theft, burglary, drug-related) after 15 years, if there have been no subsequent convictions, unless the subsequent conviction becomes eligible.  Relief is mandatory unless the prosecutor objects, in which case there must be a hearing to determine whether the person is a risk to public safety, and whether expungement would be in the best interest of justice.  Expunged records may be opened only by court order and are destroyed after three years.  In addition, “shielding” (sealing) is available for 12 enumerated non-violent misdemeanors after a 3-year waiting period.  Expungement is also available for pardoned nonviolent first offenses, nuisance convictions after three years, marijuana possession offenses after four years, and decriminalized conduct.  Victims of human trafficking whose prostitution convictions are vacated may also seek expungement.

Arrest records not leading to charges are automatically expunged after 60 days; other non-conviction records may be expunged upon petition at disposition, except that there is a 3-year waiting period where charges are dismissed following deferred adjudication (“probation before judgment”).  Juvenile records may be sealed at any time upon a showing of “good cause,” and must be sealed when the person reaches the age of 21.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers and private employers with more than 15 employees may not ask about an applicant’s criminal history until they have had an interview.  There appear to be no standards applicable to hiring decisions thereafter. Applicants for employment or licensure may not be required to disclose information about expunged or shielded records, and failure to disclose may not be the “sole” reason for denial of employment or licensing.

An occupational licensing board may not deny a license because of a conviction unless it directly relates to the desired license or there would be an unreasonable risk to property or safety.  There are detailed standards for making these decisions, and no license may be denied seven years after completion of sentence with no intervening charges even if the disqualifying standards exist, unless the person is a registered sex offender.  Certain licensing agencies must report periodically to the governor and General Assembly on the number of applications received from people with a criminal record.  Licensing boards must also give effect to “certificates of rehabilitation” issued by the Department of Corrections to people convicted of nonviolent and nonsexual crimes who have completed conditions of supervision.  Pardons lift all disabilities and penalties stemming from a conviction.

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Massachusetts

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote and hold public office only while incarcerated.  Eligibility for jury service is also lost, and is regained seven years after completion of sentence.

A person convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanor, or drug crime, or adjudicated for an analogous juvenile offense, loses the right to possess a firearm.  A permit to have a rifle or a shotgun may be issued five years after completion of sentence unless the conviction was for a violent or drug crime.  The right to possess a firearm can otherwise be restored by a pardon (rarely granted).

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor may not issue any pardons without the affirmative recommendation of the governor’s council and must report pardons annually to the legislature.  By statute, petitions must be filed with advisory board of pardons, 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.  Under informal board guidelines, eligibility begins 15 years after conviction or release from prison for felonies and 10 years for misdemeanors.  Record sealed upon pardon.  Pardons have been infrequent since 1990; only six since 2002 (by Gov. Patrick), and none by Governor Baker after five years in office.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

With certain exceptions, convicted persons are entitled to have their records sealed upon application to the department of probation 7 years after disposition or release from confinement for a felony and 3 years for a misdemeanor, without a conviction in the waiting period.  Exceptions include firearms offenses, crimes by public officials, and crimes “against public justice” such as perjury and witness tampering.  For sex offenses, the waiting period is 15 years after completion of sentence and removal from registry, unless registered as Level 2 or 3.  Pardoned convictions are eligible for immediate sealing.  Victims of human trafficking may petition the court to vacate a conviction for prostitution or simple drug possession, with sealing to follow.  Records of decriminalized offenses, including marijuana possession, may be sealed immediately.  Sealing prohibits use in connection with employment, housing and licensing, but it does not expunge.

Some non-conviction records are eligible for automatic sealing (acquittals and deferred adjudication cases), and some require a judicial finding “that substantial justice would best be served” (nolle prosequi or dismissed charges).  Juvenile records must be sealed upon request if 3 years have elapsed, with no adjudication, guilty findings (except some motor vehicle offenses), imprisonment or juvenile custody in the preceding 3 years.  Records of nonviolent non-sexual juvenile adjudications are eligible for expungement (permanent erasure or destruction) after three years for misdemeanors and seven years for felonies.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

The only substantive limitation on consideration of a felony conviction by employers and licensing boards is where it has been pardoned or the record has been sealed.  Some procedural limits apply, however.  Neither public nor private employers may ask about individuals’ criminal history when they first apply for a job (although no substantive standards beyond those above apply thereafter).  Additionally, the state fair employment practices law prohibits employers from asking about non-conviction records, certain first-time misdemeanor convictions, and misdemeanor convictions older than five years.

There is no general limitation on how conviction is considered in occupational licensing, although each licensing agency must “provide a list of the specific criminal convictions that are directly related to the duties and responsibilities for the licensed occupation that may disqualify an applicant from eligibility for a license.”  A few occupations require there to be some type of relationship between the conviction and the duties of the occupation.

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Michigan

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person who has been convicted is disqualified from voting while “confined,” whether for a felony or misdemeanor.  Only certain convictions disqualify a person from office.  A felony conviction results in ineligibility for jury service, until the conviction is set aside or pardoned.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right is restored automatically three years after completion of sentence to all except those with specified convictions, who may apply for restoration after five years to their county’s concealed weapons licensing board.  A set-aside or pardon restores this right sooner.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides after mandatory (though non-binding) consultation with parole board.  The governor is required to report annually to legislature a list of pardons with reasons.  There are no statutory eligibility criteria, but the process before the board is set forth in detail.  All applications must be referred to the parole board; if board holds a hearing, relevant officials must be notified, and the board’s recommendation is a matter of public record.  The board will not process a pardon application where expungement is an available remedy. Pardon restores person to same position as if the offense had never been committed but it is not clear whether it is a basis for sealing.  Post-sentence pardons have been infrequent in recent years despite hundreds of applications received every year.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

People with no more than one felony conviction may apply for set-aside upon petition to the convicting court after a five-year waiting period that runs from imposition of sentence or release from prison, whichever is later, but they must have no more than two misdemeanor convictions.  People with no more than two misdemeanor convictions and no felony conviction may petition for set-aside of one or both misdemeanors, also after a five-year waiting period.  A petitioner must give notice to all interested parties, and the court holds a hearing to consider the person’s “circumstances and behavior” since the conviction and to determine whether “setting aside the conviction is consistent with the public welfare.”  A conviction that has been set aside is sealed by court rule.  Charges dismissed pursuant to a deferred adjudication scheme count as misdemeanors for purposes of applying for set-aside.  Felonies subject to a life sentence are ineligible, as are traffic and sex offenses.  Victims of human trafficking may have prostitution and related convictions set-aside and sealed.

Records of uncharged arrests must be sealed by the state police repository upon the person’s release; the repository must also seal other non-conviction records upon receipt of a court order with final disposition, and courts have a policy of making their own corresponding records nonpublic in such situations.  Juveniles may petition the court to set aside up to three adjudications (one of which may be a felony) one year after the last adjudication or release from detention, or upon reaching age 18, whichever is later.  Procedures are almost identical to those that apply to adult set-asides.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

By executive order, executive branch agencies may not ask about criminal history in job postings, but there are no substantive standards that apply to hiring decisions.  The only restriction on inquiries by other employers is that they may not ask about misdemeanor arrests that did not result in conviction on an employment application.  Michigan does not currently have any of the restrictions on record-related employment adopted in recent years by other jurisdictions.

A conviction maybe grounds for denying an occupational license based on the requirement that licensees have “good moral character,” but certain records may not be considered: non-convictions, misdemeanors that do not carry a prison term, and convictions “unrelated to an individual’s capacity to serve the public.”  Each licensing agency must specify the crimes that are likely to fall into the last-mentioned category, and provide a statement of reasons in the event of denial (“including a complete record of the evidence upon which the determination was based”) and an opportunity to appeal.  Judicial review is available.

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Minnesota

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, hold office, and serve on a jury.  These rights are restored automatically after completion of sentence, including any period of parole or supervised release, except that a person convicted of bribery is “forever disqualified” from holding public office.

A person convicted of a specified crime loses the right to possess a firearm, and may regain this right by petitioning the court so long as they are not in prison.  Otherwise restoration is by pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor and high officials (attorney general, chief justice) act as pardon board, which is required to report to the legislature annually.  The commissioner of corrections serves as secretary of the board and screens applications.  Eligibility for a “pardon extraordinary” requires five crime-free years from final discharge for non-violent crimes, and 10 years for violent crimes and drug felonies.  Only those deemed eligible are permitted to file an application, and waivers of the eligibility waiting period are rarely granted.  A “pardon extraordinary” restores all rights and effectively “nullifies” a conviction by setting it aside, but it does not seal or expunge the record.  Process includes public hearing with notice to officials and victims, with a decision announced at end of hearing.  The pardon process is regular, but grants are issued sparingly (about 10-20 each year, or about 1/3 of those whose cases are heard).

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Courts may expunge (or seal, a term used interchangeably) misdemeanors and a list of about 50 non-violent felonies, after waiting periods ranging from 2 to 5 years after completion of sentence.  A formal petition need not be filed if the prosecutor does not object.  In all cases the court must balance the interests of the public and public safety against the disadvantages to the subject.  For convictions not on the statutory list, the courts may entertain petitions pursuant to their common law authority, but the statutory procedures and standards apply.  Pardoned convictions cannot be expunged or sealed, but pardoning has the effect of setting-aside the conviction and allows the person to deny the conviction.  Expunged records may not be considered in connection with public employment or licensing decisions, and if a business screening service knows that a criminal record has been expunged, or is the subject of a pardon, it must promptly delete the record.

Non-conviction records may be expunged upon request at disposition, except that where charges are dismissed pursuant to deferred sentencing provisions or diversion the defendant must wait a year.  Where no charges are filed, arrest records must be destroyed if a person was not convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor in the prior ten years.  Records of juvenile adjudications may be expunged by the court at any time, applying the same balancing test that applies to adult expungements.  Juvenile records are generally available only until their subject reaches the age of 28.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers and licensing agencies must demonstrate, before they may reject an applicant based on criminal history, that a conviction is “directly related” to a job or license, and that the applicant has failed to show “sufficient rehabilitation and present fitness to perform.”  Rehabilitation may be demonstrated by avoiding arrest for a year after release or by successful completion of probation or parole.  Public employers and licensing boards are prohibited from considering non-conviction records, convictions that have been expunged, or misdemeanors that do not carry a prison term.  They must give written reasons for a denial, and inform the applicant of applicable grievance procedures, the earliest date the person may reapply, and that evidence of rehabilitation will be considered.

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Mississippi

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a specified felony (including murder, rape, theft, and certain other crimes) in a Mississippi state court loses the right to vote.  This right can only be restored by the governor through a pardon or statutory restoration of rights process, or by a two-thirds vote of the state legislature. A person convicted of certain crimes loses the right to hold public office, which can only be restored by a pardon.  A person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment loses jury eligibility for five years after the conviction, as long as the person is qualified to vote.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm, which may be restored by a judicial certificate of rehabilitation or a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board for non-binding advice.  By informal policy eligibility begins seven years after completion of sentence.  The constitution requires all applicants for pardon to post notice in a newspaper in the county of conviction 30 days prior to making application to governor, setting forth the reasons why clemency should be granted.  The parole board investigates and holds hearing on facially meritorious cases.  Pardon restores civil rights and removes employment disabilities, but it does not result in expungement.  Pardons are infrequent and the process irregular: following a scandal involving many irregular grants at the end of Governor Haley Barbour’s term in 2012, his successor issued no pardons through the end of his term in January 2020.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

A misdemeanor conviction may be expunged for a “first offender” upon completion of sentence. After a 5-year waiting period, a single felony conviction (defined to include multiple convictions arising from the same operative facts) may be expunged, but 10 listed serious felonies are ineligible.  Expungement is also available through the state intervention court system (substance abuse, mental health, veterans).  Victims of human trafficking may petition the court to vacate their convictions, making the record eligible for expungement.  There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge pardoned convictions. Non-conviction records are eligible for immediate expungement upon petition, including uncharged arrests, charges dropped, charges dismissed after deferred adjudication, and acquittals.  A person whose conviction was expunged need not report it, but an employer is not prohibited from asking the person about it.  Juvenile records are generally confidential; they may be sealed when the person reaches the age of 20 or if the case was dismissed or set-aside.  The judge also has authority to order destruction of juvenile records.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Mississippi has no general law regulating consideration of criminal record in employment, and it has none of the limits on application-stage inquiries for public employers that exist in numerous states.  Pardons remove employment disabilities, and individuals with expunged criminal convictions need not disclose them if asked in connection with an employment application.

Licensing agencies may not deny a license based on conviction unless it has a “direct relationship” to the duties and responsibilities of the occupation, as determined by a multi-factor test.  Vague terms like “good moral character” are prohibited.  Agencies must provide a written explanation for denial based on the stated factors “sufficient for a reviewing court.” Individuals may seek a preliminary determination as to whether their record will disqualify them, and the agency will provide it promptly.

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Missouri

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.  Except for persons convicted of crimes related to voting, the rights to vote and to hold office are restored upon discharge from sentence, including payment of restitution.  Eligibility to serve on a jury can only be restored by a pardon.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right may be restored by expungement or a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor’s constitutional pardon power is subject to regulation relative to “the manner of applying.”  The parole board must be consulted, but its advice is not binding.  Eligibility begins three years after discharge, and there is no provision for a hearing.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities, and a pardoned conviction may not be used to enhance the penalty in a subsequent case, but it does not expunge.  Pardons have been infrequent in recent years, despite a dramatic increase in applications and calls in the press for the governor to deal with a large backlog.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Expungement is authorized for all non-Class A felonies and all misdemeanors, subject to a lengthy list of exceptions for violent offenses, sex offenses, other more serious crimes, and driving offenses involving liquor or commercial driver’s licenses.  Only one felony and two misdemeanors may be expunged in a lifetime.  There is a waiting period of seven years after completion of sentence for felonies and three years for misdemeanors, during which there may be no new convictions, and fines and restitution must be paid.  The court notifies the prosecutor, who in turn is responsible for notifying any victim.  A hearing may be dispensed with if the parties agree, but the court in each case must find that the petitioner is not a threat to public safety and that expungement is in the public interest.  In addition, prostitution pleas and convictions may be expunged if the person was a minor acting under coercion.  Expunged records are generally not available to the public, but remain available to criminal justice agencies, licensing agencies, and employers that are required to exclude convicted individuals.

Records in cases disposed of favorably to the defendant are automatically “closed,” but expungement is available only pursuant to the same eligibility rules and procedures that apply to convictions, and to the same three-year waiting period as misdemeanors.  Juvenile records are generally unavailable to the public, and juveniles may petition the court to destroy their records once they reach the age of 17.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not disqualify applicants based on a conviction unless it “is reasonably related” to their competency to perform the job.  In addition, an executive order prohibits executive branch employers from asking individuals about their criminal history on an initial job application.  There is no law that restricts how private employers may consider criminal records.

Licensing agencies are subject to the same “reasonable relationship” standard that applies to public employers, and they may not deny a license “solely” because an applicant has a felony conviction.  Licensing agencies may consider a conviction “some evidence of an absence of good moral character,” but they must also consider the nature and date of the crime, as well as conduct after the conviction.  A license may not be denied “primarily” because of a conviction that was pardoned, and expunged records may be grounds for denial of some licenses involving sensitive employment.

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Montana

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote only while incarcerated.  The rights to hold public office and sit on a jury are also lost upon conviction of a felony and are restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights are lost only if conviction involves a dangerous weapon; may be regained by petitioning a court.

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Pardon policy & practice

The pardon power is vested in the governor, but the legislature may control the process.  The governor must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature.  Prior to March 2015, the governor could issue a pardon only upon the favorable recommendation of the board of pardons and parole, but the board’s role in clemency cases has been converted by constitutional amendment to an advisory one.  While the governor is still required by statute to premise action on a board recommendation, after a hearing, that recommendation is no longer binding. There are no formal eligibility criteria.  A pardon removes legal consequences of conviction and is grounds for expungement.  Pardons are infrequently recommended by the board and even less frequently granted by the governor.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge adult felony convictions. Expungement is available for multiple misdemeanors, but only once in a person’s lifetime.  Relief is presumed for all but certain serious misdemeanors after a 5-year waiting period; other misdemeanors may also be expunged in the court’s discretion.  Misdemeanors from different counties may be expunged in a single proceeding.  Deferred sentencing is available for misdemeanors and first felony offenses, after which charges are dismissed and access to records is limited.  Non-conviction arrest records must be returned to defendant or destroyed.  Youth court and associated law enforcement records are automatically sealed upon defendant’s reaching age 18.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Montana has no law regulating consideration of criminal record in public or private employment, including the limits on application-stage inquiry by public employers that most other states have adopted.  A criminal conviction may not operate as an “automatic bar” to licensure, but may be grounds for denial or revocation of a license if the conviction relates to the occupation for which the license is sought, and the licensing agency finds, after investigation, that the applicant has not been “sufficiently rehabilitated.”  When a licensing agency denies a license in whole or in part based on conviction, the agency must state its reasons in writing.  An executive pardon removes all legal consequences of a conviction.

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Nebraska

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.  The right to vote is restored automatically two years after completion of sentence, including any period of parole.  The rights to hold office and serve on a jury may only be restored by the Board of Pardons.

A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right too may only be restored by the Board of Pardons.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor and high officials (secretary of state and attorney general) act as a pardon board, which receives nonbinding advice from the parole board.  Eligibility begins 10 years following completion of sentence for felonies and three years for misdemeanors.  Until 2018, public hearings were held at regular intervals, and grants issued, a schedule that the board intends to resume in 2020.  Reasons for approval or denial generally not given.  A pardon restores civil rights, the right to hold certain occupational and professional licenses, and firearms rights (if expressly granted).  As of 2018, pardoned conviction may be sealed.  Until recently, pardoning has been frequent and regular: between 2002 and 2017 an average of 80 pardons granted each year, about 25% with firearms privileges, about 60% of applicants are granted.  It is expected that this practice will resume in 2020.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge adult convictions. Those sentenced to probation or to pay a fine may petition the court to set-aside the conviction upon discharge, if the court finds that the order will be “in the best interest of the offender and consistent with the public welfare.”  Set-aside “nullifies” the conviction and removes “all civil disabilities and disqualifications” but does not expunge or seal the record.  Sealing is authorized for pardoned convictions, and for victims of human trafficking for “any offense” directly resulting from the trafficking.  For non-convictions, upon acquittal or entry of an order dismissing a case, including for successful drug court program completion, information pertaining to the case is “sealed” and not disseminated to persons other than criminal justice agencies.  Arrests where charges were not filed because of diversion are sealed after two years, and records of uncharged arrests are sealed after one year. Most juvenile records are automatically sealed upon disposition.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not ask about an applicant’s criminal history until they determine the applicant meets minimum employment qualifications, but there is no similar restriction that applies to private employers.  Employers and licensing agencies may not ask job applicants about sealed juvenile or non-conviction records.  Individuals may seek a preliminary determination from a licensing agency as to whether their conviction would disqualify them from obtaining a license.  A pardon restores eligibility for certain licenses.

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Nevada

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated.  The rights to hold public office and serve on a jury are also lost upon conviction.  Eligibility for civil juries is restored upon completion of sentence, and eligibility for criminal juries is restored six years after completion of sentence.  Eligibility to hold public office is restored four years after completion of sentence.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right can only be restored by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor and high officials (justices of supreme court and attorney general) act as a pardon board, and all pardons must be reported regularly to the legislature.  Changes to several constitutionally required aspects of board operations, including that the governor approve all grants, have been approved twice by the legislature and will be considered by voters in 2020.  No formal eligibility requirements, but applicants typically required to wait “a significant period of time.”  Public hearings held at irregular intervals, and non-violent first offenders may be considered on consent calendar.  Pardon removes all disabilities, including firearms and licensing bars, but does not seal record and may serve as predicate.  Process takes about two years.  Pardoning is frequent and regular: about 30 grants made each year since 2013, a substantial percentage of those that apply.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

All convictions except for crimes against a child, sex offenses, and certain DUIs, are eligible for sealing after a waiting period ranging from one to 10 years after discharge or release from prison if no convictions during waiting period or pending charges.  There is an explicit presumption in favor of sealing except for those dishonorably discharged from probation or parole, whose sealing is discretionary.  Sealed convictions may be denied and have no predicate effect.  Non-conviction records are presumptively eligible for sealing after the charges are dismissed, declined for prosecution (after the limitations period has run or 10 years), or a person is acquitted.  Victims of human trafficking may petition to have any non-violent conviction vacated and the record sealed.  Sealing is also available for conduct that was subsequently decriminalized.  There appears to be no authority to seal pardoned convictions.  Most juvenile records are automatically sealed when the person turns 21, except that earlier sealing is available by petition after a three-year waiting period, and certain violent and sexual offenses are not eligible for sealing until the person turns 30.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not inquire into an applicant’s criminal history until a final interview or conditional offer.  Thereafter, they may not deny employment until they have considered whether the offense is directly related to the position sought using a multi-part test.  Public employers must provide rejected applicants a written notice specifying the reasons, and an opportunity to discuss. They may not consider non-conviction records, convictions that were dismissed or sealed, or misdemeanors that did not carry a prison sentence.  There are no restrictions applicable to private employers.

There is no uniform standard that applies to consideration of criminal record in licensing, though many licensing agencies apply a “direct relationship” standard.  Agencies must afford potential applicants an opportunity for a preliminary determination as to whether a conviction would be disqualifying.  They may but are not required (as are agencies in other states) to publish a list of disqualifying convictions.  Each agency is required to submit quarterly reports to the legislature on the number of applications received, determinations of disqualification, and the reasons for each.

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New Hampshire

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Summary

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote and hold public office, but only while incarcerated.  The right to serve on a jury is also lost upon conviction and restored if the sentencing court annuls the conviction.

A person convicted of a felony drug offense or a felony “against the person or property of another” loses the right to possess a firearm.  For nonviolent offenses, this right may be restored by an annulment or by a pardon.  For violent offenses, it may be restored only by pardon (rarely granted).

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor may not act without the affirmative recommendation of the executive council.  Persons eligible for “annulment” under state law generally will not be considered for a pardon.  Pardon eliminates all consequences of conviction but does not expunge the record.  Pardons are rare: while the governor receives several dozen applications each year, only three pardons have been granted since 1996.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Convictions for most nonviolent offenses may be “annulled” by the court upon petition after waiting periods ranging from one to ten years after completion of sentence or release from prison, subject to a “public welfare” standard. Victims of human trafficking may have prostitution convictions vacated and annulled, and convictions for marijuana possession may also be annulled. There currently exists no statutory authority for deferred adjudication.  Non-conviction records may be annulled by the court subject to the “public welfare” standard.  Records in the repository that have been annulled or that did not result in conviction are confidential, and not available to background screeners.  Juvenile records are confidential; they are “closed” when a person turns 21, though they are still available to law enforcement.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Employers and licensing agencies may not ask job seekers and license applicants whether their criminal history includes an annulled offense.  Beyond this, there are no limits on application-stage inquiries, or other restrictions on how public or private employers may consider criminal records.  Licensing boards may reject an application due to a criminal conviction only if 1) it was for a felony or violent misdemeanor and 2) there is public safety risk.  Licensing agencies may provide preliminary determination about whether a conviction would be disqualifying, and they must provide a written reason for a denial decision and an opportunity to appeal.

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New Jersey

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of an “indictable offense” (felony) loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated.  A person convicted of an indictable offense also loses the right to sit on a jury, which may only be restored by the governor, through a pardon or restoration of rights.  A person holding public office or employment who is convicted of a serious crime or one involving dishonesty forfeits the office or employment.  If the crime was one “involving or touching on” the government office or employment, the person is “forever disqualified” from holding any government office or employment.  The permanent bar may be relieved by a gubernatorial pardon or restoration of rights, or by a judicial certificate.

A person convicted of specified violent crimes loses the right to possess a firearm.  A person convicted of any crime, including a “disorderly persons” (misdemeanor) crime of domestic violence, loses the right to purchase a firearm.  These rights may be restored by the governor through pardon or restoration of rights, but not through a judicial certificate.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board for non-binding advice.  The governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No published eligibility criteria, and the process is not formalized in statute.  Pardon restores rights and a court may expunge pardoned convictions.  Pardons are infrequent and the process irregular: recent governors have granted relatively few pardons, and generally only at end of their terms.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  New Jersey has two main paths to expungement of convictions: one is via petitions filed in court, and the other is a newly authorized “clean slate” authority that will eventually be automatic.  Petition-based expungement of a single “indictable” offense (felony) is authorized five years after completion of sentence, and of up to three additional “disorderly persons” offenses (misdemeanors) after a 5-year waiting period running from the last conviction.  The waiting period may be reduced to three years if the person is seeking expungement only for disorderly offenses. Payment of financial penalties may be waived in “compelling circumstances.” A prior expungement is disqualifying, as is having more than one indictable offense conviction or more than three disorderly offense convictions, but a prior conviction is not.  Most serious and violent offenses, offenses by public officials, and serious drug offenses are ineligible for expungement.  Various officials must be served, but a hearing may be waived if there is no objection.  An e-filing system was authorized in 2019 and is scheduled to launch in mid-2020.  Expungement is defined as “the extraction, sealing, and impounding or isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency.”  Expungement by petition is also authorized for successful completion of drug court, deferred adjudication, prostitution by victims of human trafficking, and pardoned convictions.

The second path to expungement is styled “clean slate” and authorizes automatic expungement of eligible convictions ten years after completion of the last sentence (same eligibility criteria as petition-based expungement).  Pending development of an automated delivery system, individuals may apply to the court and relief is mandatory upon a determination of eligibility.

Arrest and other non-conviction records are expunged automatically at time of disposition (the requirement of a petition having been repealed in 2019).  Juvenile records may be expunged after a three-year waiting period with no subsequent adjudications or convictions.

Judicial/administrative certificates:  The sentencing court and supervisory authority are authorized to issue certificates evidencing rehabilitation that “suspends certain disabilities, forfeitures or bars to employment or professional licensure.”  A certificate may be awarded by the court at sentencing if the person has only one conviction and is not sentenced to prison, or by the supervisory authority three years after completion of supervision if the person has no other conviction within ten years.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public and private employers with more than 15 employees must delay inquiry into criminal history until after the first interview.  A certificate of rehabilitation issued by a sentencing court or supervisory agency lifts bars to employment, except as provided in the Forfeiture Act, but conduct may still be considered.  Licensing authorities may not deny a license or otherwise discriminate based on conviction unless it relates adversely to the occupation, defined bya  multifactor test.  Pardon, expungement, or certificate of rehabilitation preclude a licensing authority from disqualifying an applicant.

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New Mexico

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury. The rights to vote and serve on a jury are restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including payment of fines and restitution.  The right to hold office may only be restored by a pardon, or gubernatorial restoration of rights following completion of sentence.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm; this right is restored ten years after completion of sentence, or earlier by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult parole board for non-binding advice or investigation.  Current eligibility guidelines require lengthy waiting periods after discharge from sentence, and exclude many categories of offense, including misdemeanors.  The process is informal.  A pardon restores rights of citizenship and relieves other legal disabilities under state law, but it does not expunge the records or preclude use as a predicate or for an enhancement.  Pardons have been infrequent under recent governors: Gov. Lujan Grisham signaled a new approach to executive clemency with the issuance of guidelines calling for a “holistic” approach, but she had issued no grants by March 2020.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Courts are authorized to expunge convictions for all but the most serious violent offenses after a conviction-free waiting period ranging from 2 to 10 years after completion of sentence, including payment of fines and fees.  The court must find after a hearing that “justice will be served by an order to expunge,” applying a multi-factor test.  Expungement is defined as limiting public access. Deferred sentencing following a plea is available except in first-degree felony cases, and expungement is available under the procedures and standards applicable to convictions. Victims of human trafficking may petition to have their records sealed if the offense was not a homicide and the offense was directly related to the trafficking.  Courts may also expunge non-conviction records (including conditional discharges) after a one-year waiting period, so long as no charges are pending.  Juvenile records are generally unavailable to the public. Upon motion to the court made by a person over 18 years old (or younger, upon a showing of good cause), the court is required to seal all records so long as two years have passed since release from custody/supervision (or entry of judgement), and there have been no subsequent adjudications or convictions for any felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, and no charges are pending.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Neither public nor private employers may ask about individuals’ criminal histories on initial job applications.  Public employers may consider criminal history only when an applicant is a finalist, while private employers may consider criminal history information after review of the application.  Public employers and licensing agencies may deny an individual a job or license based on conviction only if: 1) the conviction relates directly to the desired job or license; or 2) the employer or agency determines after investigation that the individual has not been sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant public trust.  An individual is presumed rehabilitated three years after being released or completing parole or probation.  If employment or licensing is denied, reasons for the decision must be provided in writing.  Caregiver employment is subject to a higher standard.

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New York

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison loses the right to vote until completion of any term of parole.  Since May 2018, the right to vote has been restored by executive order upon release.  A person convicted of a felony loses the right to sit on a jury, which may be restored by the sentencing court, corrections department, or governor.  While there is no general restriction on the right to hold public office, an official convicted while in office may forfeit their office, and persons with felony convictions must obtain a judicial certificate before qualifying for law enforcement and a few other public offices.

A person convicted of a felony or a “serious offense” loses the right to possess a firearm.  Except for persons convicted of a Class A-1 or violent felony, this right may be restored by the sentencing court, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, or governor.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult parole board for non-binding advice; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually.  No stated eligibility criteria or formal process, and applicants generally not considered if alternative administrative remedies are available.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo has exercised his pardon power in several unusual ways to benefit different classes of individuals, reviving a tradition of pardoning that had been dormant in New York for several terms.  As of December 3, 2019, Governor Cuomo had pardoned more than 50 non-citizens facing deportation or other immigration-related restrictions, restored the right to vote to more than 24,000 parolees, and granted conditional pardons to more than 140 individuals prosecuted as adults when teenagers.  Given the other restoration remedies available under New York law, it is not surprising that pardons have not been routinely available otherwise.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Sealing is authorized for up to two convictions (only one of them a felony) 10 years after sentencing or release from prison. Sex offenses, class A and violent felonies are ineligible.  If the district attorney does not object, the court may decide the application without a hearing, applying a multi-factor test to determine rehabilitation.  Conditional sealing is also available upon completion of judicial diversion, and it may extend to up to three prior misdemeanors.  Prostitution convictions for victims of human trafficking may be vacated and sealed. Minor marijuana possession convictions are automatically expunged. Sealing of non-conviction records is mandatory upon termination of the action in favor of the accused.  Juvenile adjudications terminated in favor of the juvenile must be sealed, and those concluding in a finding of delinquency may be sealed.  Youthful offender (16-19) records are sealed automatically upon adjudication.

Judicial/administrative certificates:  A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) may be obtained from the sentencing court for first felony offenders not sentenced to prison, and otherwise from the parole board.  A Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC) is available from the parole board for people with multiple felonies.  Both certificates relieve mandatory consequences and signify rehabilitation, but only the CGC restores firearms rights and eligibility for public office. Persons residing or doing business in New York with convictions from other states or with federal convictions are eligible to apply for certificates.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

New York’s Human Rights Law and Article 23-A of the Corrections Law prohibit discrimination based on criminal record by public and private employers and licensing agencies.  Employment or licenses may not be denied unless there 1) is a “direct relationship” between a conviction and the job or license, as defined by a multifactor test; or 2) hiring or licensing the individual would be an unreasonable risk to people’s property, safety, or welfare.  Employers and licensing agencies also may not ask about or act adversely based on non-conviction records.  An individual with a criminal record who is denied a job or license has the right to receive a statement of reasons.  Certificates issued by the court or parole board may lift mandatory employment or licensing bars and must be considered in discretionary decisions.

An executive order prohibits public employers from asking job applicants about prior conviction until initial hiring decisions have been made.  New York City has a broad ban-the-box law that prohibits public and private employers from asking job applicants about convictions until after an initial offer is made.

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North Carolina

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury, all of which are restored automatically upon “unconditional discharge” from sentence, which includes payment of all court debt.

A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to possess a firearm (with a few anti-trust-related exceptions).  State residents with minor non-violent records may petition the court where they reside for restoration of firearms rights 20 years after completion of sentence.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board.  Some aspects of the pardon process are specified in statute, and the governor has an office of executive clemency that ostensibly receives applications for pardons “for forgiveness.”  However, pardons for forgiveness are rare: there has not been such a pardon granted in the State for more than 20 years, though there have been six pardons for innocence since 2001.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Minor nonviolent felony and nonviolent misdemeanor convictions are eligible for “expunction” on a one-time basis if the person has no other convictions (other than traffic violations).  The eligibility waiting period is 10 years after completion of sentence for felonies, and five years after completion of sentence for misdemeanors.  Eligible persons must have paid all restitution, have no pending charges, and have no prior expungements except for non-convictions. Deferred adjudication is available for first-time minor drug offenses, but expunction follows only for those under age 22.  Youthful first offenses committed between the ages of 18 and 21 may also be expunged following a 4-year waiting period, and youthful offenses are eligible under other authorities.  Non-conviction records may be expunged upon petition after a hearing, but the person must have no prior felony convictions.  Courts are specifically authorized to redact conviction records to expunge dismissed charges.  Juvenile records are generally unavailable to the public and may be sealed by court order and expunged after the person turns 18 after an 18-month period of good behavior.

Judicial certificates:  A Certificate of Relief is available from the sentencing court one year after completion of sentence for individuals with a limited number of misdemeanors and minor felonies.  This certificate relieves mandatory collateral consequences, certifies that the person poses no public safety risk, and provides negligent hiring protection.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

North Carolina has no general law regulating consideration of criminal records in employment, including any limits on application-stage inquiries.  A Certificate of Relief lifts most mandatory employment and licensing bars, and it may be “considered favorably” by employers and licensing agencies.  Applicants for licensure may not be rejected based on a conviction unless it 1) is “directly related” to the duties and responsibility of the occupation; or 2) stems from a violent or sex crime.  In determining the relationship of the crime to the occupation, agencies must consider specified factors, including whether an individual has a Certificate of Relief.  The agency must provide reasons for denial and an opportunity to appeal.  Individuals may apply to a licensing entity for a “predetermination” as to whether their history will “likely” disqualify them from obtaining a license, and a favorable decision is binding on the licensing board.  Agencies required to report to legislature on licenses granted and denied to people with a criminal record.

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North Dakota

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and to sit on a jury, but only while incarcerated.

A person convicted of a felony or a Class A misdemeanor loses the right to possess a firearm.  A person convicted of a nonviolent felony or a Class A misdemeanor regains their rights automatically five years after release from prison or probation.  For someone convicted of a felony involving violence or intimidation, the waiting period is ten years.  A person subject to a five-year waiting period may petition the court to have these rights restored sooner.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to appoint a “pardon advisory board,” consisting of the state attorney general, two members of the parole board, and two citizens, staffed by the corrections department.  According to published criteria, an applicant “must have encountered a significant problem with the consequences of the conviction or sentence (e.g. inability to obtain or maintain licensures or certifications necessary for employment)” or demonstrate some other “compelling need for relief as a result of unusual circumstances.”  In addition, persons convicted of possession of marijuana who have not had any convictions in the past 5 years may submit “a Summary Pardon Application.”  There is no public hearing, but by statute the DA must be given advance notice.  A pardon relieves collateral penalties, but does not authorize expungement, and conviction may still serve as predicate.  Ordinary pardons have been infrequent in recent years.  Beginning in January 2020 applications for marijuana pardons are being fast-tracked for favorable consideration.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Misdemeanor and felony convictions may be sealed upon petition, with waiting periods of 3 and 5 years after release from supervision, respectively, except that violent offenses must wait 10 years and sex offenses are not eligible.  The court may grant a petition if it finds that the petitioner has made a showing of “good cause,” has completed the sentence and paid restitution, and that “the benefit to the petitioner outweighs the presumption of openness of the criminal record,” applying a multifactor test.  A hearing may be dispensed with if the prosecutor agrees.  “Seal” is “to prohibit the disclosure of the existence or contents of court or prosecution records unless authorized by court order.”  Minor felony convictions may be set aside and knocked down to misdemeanors after successful probation. First offense marijuana possession may be sealed after two years unless there is a subsequent conviction. Victims of human trafficking may have prostitution convictions vacated and sealed.

There is no statute governing sealing or expungement of non-conviction records, but a court has inherent authority to limit public access to such records upon petition, including records of diversionary dispositions, if the court finds the interest of justice will be served, pursuant to a balancing test.  Juvenile adjudications for prostitution, theft and forgery, and drug possession linked to being victim of human trafficking may be vacated and expunged.  Otherwise, juvenile records are generally unavailable to the public, and are destroyed automatically after 10 years or earlier upon petition.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not ask about criminal record until an applicant has been selected for an interview, but thereafter no procedural standards and substantive criteria guide the employer’s decision-making.  Occupational, professional and business licenses may not be denied because of a conviction unless: 1) the offense has a “direct bearing” on the applicant’s ability to serve the public in the desired position; or 2) the applicant is not sufficiently rehabilitated.  Five years without a subsequent conviction is “prima facie” evidence of rehabilitation.  If a person is denied a license based in whole or in part on conviction, the licensing agency must provide a written statement specifying the reasons for denial and the evidence relied upon, and an opportunity to appeal the decision, including through the courts.  Pardons typically relieve mandatory employment and licensing bars, and sealed records may be made available only by court order when an entity has a statutory obligation to conduct a background check.

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Ohio

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated. A person convicted of a felony also loses the rights to hold public office and to serve on a jury, which are restored automatically after “final discharge.”  Public officials convicted of corruption offenses either have a longer waiting period or may be ineligible entirely for public office or employment short of a pardon.

A person convicted of a violent or drug felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  Firearms rights may be restored by a court after completion of sentence or by a pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides but is required to consult with the parole board for non-binding advice; the governor must report pardons to legislature.  A person may apply at any time.  The board may hold hearing in meritorious cases, with prior notice to court, prosecutor and victim.  No reasons are given in the event of denial.  A pardon relieves all disabilities but does not entitle the recipient to have the record sealed.  Pardoning has varied with administration, and the power was exercised sparingly by Gov. John Kasich (2011-19).  The current governor Mike DeWine has established an expedited pardon process that is expected to lead to more regular grants, and has an eligibility waiting period of 10 years.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Sealing is available for one felony, for one felony and one misdemeanor, or for two misdemeanors, after waiting periods of three years after discharge for felonies and one year for misdemeanors.  An additional authority allows sealing of up to five minor nonviolent felonies or misdemeanors after waiting periods of three to five years depending on the number and seriousness of the offenses (certain serious offenses are ineligible).  A hearing is held in which the court applies a balancing test.  Sealing is available for out-of-state and federal offenses (only seals records held by Ohio).  Intervention in lieu of conviction is available for those with no prior violent felony convictions.  There is no authority to seal pardoned convictions. Sealing is available for non-conviction records upon disposition.  Sealing restores rights and prohibits inquiry by employers and licensing boards in most cases, but a sealed conviction may be used in subsequent criminal case.  Expungement (destruction) is available for prostitution convictions of victims of human trafficking.  Juvenile records may be sealed six months after discharge, except for convictions of rape or murder, and sealed records are automatically expunged 5 years afterward or when the person reaches age 23, or earlier by petition if the court finds rehabilitation.

Judicial certificates:  Judicial Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) removes specified mandatory occupational and licensing consequences and creates a presumption of fitness; 1-year waiting period after completion of sentence for felonies, 6 months for misdemeanors.  Unlike judicial certificates in some other states, individuals with out-of-state or federal convictions are ineligible for a CQE, even if they reside and/or do business in the state.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not ask about individuals’ criminal histories on an initial job application.  No employer or licensing agency may question an applicant about sealed convictions unless “the question bears a direct and substantial relationship” to the desired position, and the applicant may not be questioned at all about sealed non-conviction records.  Licensing agencies may deny a license only if the conviction is “substantially related” to the applicant’s ability to perform the job, though no criteria are provided.  Agencies are required to publish a list of all criminal offenses that would be disqualifying, specifying the reasons.  Individuals may request a preliminary determination from a licensing board about whether their conviction will disqualify them from obtaining a license, and the determination will be binding unless the person’s convictions differ from what was included in the request.  A Certification of Qualification for Employment lifts automatic bars to both employment and licensure context, and it creates presumption that an individual is qualified.

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Oklahoma

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote for a period of time equal to the term of the sentence.  Jury eligibility is also lost and is restored only by a pardon.  Those convicted of a felony or of misdemeanor embezzlement are disqualified from public office for 15 years after completion of sentence or until pardoned.  A felony conviction results in permanent disqualification from state legislature.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess or live in a residence with a firearm, including imitation pistols and altered air or toy pistols.  This right may be restored by a pardon only if the conviction was for a nonviolent felony.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor may not act without the affirmative recommendation of the board of pardons and parole; governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature.  Eligibility begins after completion of sentence, or after five years under supervision.  The board holds a public hearing in every case (the applicant generally does not appear) and it may take official action only in an open public meeting (though it need not give reasons).  The process usually takes about six months.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities except that firearms rights may not be restored to those convicted of violent crimes.  In 2019 the law was amended to permit a person who has been pardoned to seek expungement, eliminating requirements that the crime be non-violent, that the governor make a finding of innocence, and that the pardoned person wait ten years.  Pardoning is frequent and regular: for the past fifteen years, the governor has approved more than 100 pardons every year, and this number has continued to grow, with about 150 grants in 2019.  The board makes a favorable recommendation in about 80% of the cases it hears, and the governor generally approves them.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Up to two nonviolent felony convictions may be expunged (sealed) 10 years after completion of the last sentence, if no charges are pending.  One nonviolent felony may be expunged after 5 years, and non-violent felonies reclassified as misdemeanors may be expunged after 30 days. Misdemeanors may be expunged after 5 years if no prior felonies and no charges pending, except that the waiting period is waived if the sentence involves a fine less than $500 and no (or suspended) prison term, upon satisfaction of fine.  Pardoned offenses and prostitution convictions of victims of human trafficking may be expunged with no waiting period.  Deferred adjudication and probation is available for misdemeanors and first-time minor felony offenses, with expungement after a waiting period (5 years for felonies, one year for misdemeanors); deferred adjudication for people with first-time drug offenses leads to automatic expungement upon discharge.  Non-conviction records may be expunged in case of acquittal or if no charges are filed; dismissed charges may be expunged only if the person has no felony convictions and the limitations period has passed. Records of juvenile adjudications may be expunged upon reaching age 21 if no subsequent convictions.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

An executive order prohibits state agencies from asking about criminal histories on initial job applications unless conviction would automatically disqualify the applicant.  While state employers may ask applicant about their criminal history during an interview, neither public nor private employers or licensing entities may ask about or consider expunged (sealed) convictions.  And, neither employers nor licensing entities may consider juvenile adjudications as arrests or convictions.  Licensing entities may not deny a license application because of a conviction unless the offense 1) is “substantially related” to the duties and responsibilities of the lessened occupation; and 2) poses “a reasonable threat to public safety.”  Licensing entities must state list “with specificity” any disqualifying criminal offense, and individuals may request a preliminary determination as to whether their criminal histories might disqualify them from obtaining a license.

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Oregon

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison loses the right to vote, hold public office, to sit on a jury, but only while incarcerated.  Eligibility for state legislature is lost until completion of sentence, including payment of court debt.

A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to possess a firearm.  If convicted of only one felony (not involving homicide or a weapons offense), this right is restored automatically 15 years after completion of sentence.  Otherwise, this right can be restored by expungement or a pardon (though it is not clear whether the term “expungement” includes set-aside and sealing).  Persons with certain non-violent felony offenses may regain firearms privileges one year after discharge by petitioning a circuit court where they reside.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides with no provision for advice, and process is informal within governor’s office; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  The governor generally will not consider misdemeanors and minor felonies, for which set-aside is available.  Relieves all legal disabilities and, as of 2019, authorizes the court to seal the record.  Pardons have been infrequent under recent governors.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Misdemeanors and Class C felony convictions may be set aside three years after judgment, and non-violent Class B felonies may be set aside after 20 years, provided in all cases that there has been no other conviction in the past 10 years, or arrest within three years.  Set-aside restores all rights, relieves all disabilities, and seals the record.  Sealing is also available for pardoned convictions, human trafficking victims convicted of prostitution, and marijuana possession convictions. Set-aside of non-conviction records is available one year after arrest if no charges filed, or any time after an acquittal or dismissal, except that there must not have been convictions within 10 years or other arrests within three years.  Juvenile records may be expunged upon reaching age 18 after a 5-year waiting period if the person has no subsequent convictions of a felony or Class A misdemeanor and no charges are pending.  Juvenile records ineligible for expungement may be eligible for set-aside and sealing.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public and private employers may not ask about an applicant’s criminal history until an initial interview or until a conditional offer is made.  Individuals whose conviction has been set aside and sealed may tell an employer or licensing agency they have not been convicted of the crime.  A licensing entity may deny licensure if it determines that an applicant’s conviction is “substantially related” to the occupation or profession, after considering the facts of the conviction “and all intervening circumstances.”  In 2019, Oregon loosened standards for employment in certain care-giving positions, prohibiting consideration of specified non-convictions and convictions.

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Pennsylvania

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated. A person convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury, or any felony loses the right to hold public office, unless pardoned.  A person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year may not serve on a jury, unless pardoned.

A person convicted of a specified crime—which includes certain felonies, drug offenses, domestic violence, repeat DUI offenses, and others—loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right may be restored by a court ten years after release from prison, or by pardon or expungement.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor may not act without an affirmative recommendation from a pardon board chaired by the lieutenant governor.  The board asks applicants to identify a specific need for clemency, but “does not view a pardon as an appropriate means of restoring any disability that has been imposed pursuant to a state law,” except for firearms disabilities.  Pardon results in automatic expungement.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: between 400-500 applications received each year, about half of which are granted a hearing; most of those heard are recommended favorably, and under the current governor almost all of those recommended favorably are granted (an average of about 200-250 each year).

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Sealing (“order for limited access”) is automatic for 2nd and 3rd degree misdemeanors and ungraded offenses after a 10-year conviction-free waiting period, with certain disqualifying priors (including any prior felony conviction), and full payment of fines and fees.  Sealed records are not available to public or private employers, or landlords, but remain available to licensing agencies and other state and criminal justice agencies.  Sealing is also available by petition to the court, with broader eligibility (some first-degree misdemeanors eligible, fewer disqualifying priors, no requirement to pay fines/fees) and broader effect (licensing boards do not have access).

Expungement is available by petition for “summary” offenses after five years; for underage drinking; for those age 70 with no arrests within 10 years; for pre-plea diversion (ARD); and for “probation before judgment” cases involving nonviolent, first-time drug offenses.  Expungement is mandatory for pardoned offenses. “Clean slate” sealing is mandated for non-conviction records  within 30 days of disposition, with the additional remedy of expungement by petition in cases where no disposition is indicated after 18 months. Courts have inherent authority to redact conviction records to expunge dismissed charges.  Juvenile records may be expunged six months after discharge on a consent decree or upon reaching age 18; or five years after delinquency adjudication.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated. A person convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury, or any felony loses the right to hold public office, unless pardoned.  A person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year may not serve on a jury, unless pardoned.

A person convicted of a specified crime—which includes certain felonies, drug offenses, domestic violence, repeat DUI offenses, and others—loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right may be restored by a court ten years after release from prison, or by pardon or expungement.

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Puerto Rico

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

The right to vote is not affected by a conviction.  A person convicted of a felony loses all other civil rights until completion of sentence.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm, unless the conviction is pardoned or expunged.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and may (but is not required to) consult parole board.  No formal eligibility requirements, but recent policy has imposed a five-year waiting period after completion of sentence.  No public hearing.  Pardon “eliminates” the conviction from police and court records.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Expungement of a conviction is available for misdemeanors and most felonies after a waiting period of six months (misdemeanors) or five years (felonies) without further conviction.  The applicant must demonstrate “good moral reputation in the community,” and persons with a felony conviction must provide a DNA sample.  A “certificate of rehabilitation” is available from the court on motion of the corrections department for persons who have been released on parole, directing that the sentence has been fully served; the conviction is not to be included in their criminal record certificate, but it may be used in subsequent criminal cases.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Puerto Rico has no laws restricting consideration of criminal record in employment and licensing, but its broad expungement law may reduce the need for such laws.

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Rhode Island

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated.  A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to serve on a jury, which is restored after completion of sentence.  A person convicted of a felony, or who is sentenced to more than six months in jail for a misdemeanor, loses the right to hold public office until three years after completion of sentence.

A person convicted of a “crime of violence” loses the right to possess a firearm with no relief specified.  Firearms also may not be possessed by a person convicted of specified crimes involving domestic violence unless and until the conviction is expunged, or completion of a one-year sentence.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of state senate, with the result that pardons are rare (none since 2000).  No eligibility requirements, and no process specified.  Restores right to hold public office and lifts occupational and licensing bars.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Rhode Island law provides three separate authorities for expungement: 1) “first offenders,” defined as those with a single felony or misdemeanor conviction; 2) those with between two and six misdemeanor convictions; and 3) those who successfully completed deferred sentences.  It also provides additional authority for expunging other diversionary dispositions as well as decriminalized offenses, and for sealing non-conviction and juvenile records. Sealing and expungement have been held to be functionally identical.  Felony “first offenders” must wait ten years after completion of sentence without an arrest, and first misdemeanants five years; payment of court-imposed financial obligations is required, and some convictions for serious violence are ineligible. Additionally, up to six misdemeanors (except for domestic violence and DUI convictions) may be expunged after an arrest-free waiting period of 10 years if the person has no prior felony conviction.  Some violent crimes are ineligible. After a hearing, the court must find that the applicant “has exhibited good moral character” and that “rehabilitation has been attained to the court’s satisfaction.”  Expungement releases recipient “from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the crime,” including firearms disabilities, except that it may serve as a predicate offense and enhance a sentence in a subsequent prosecution.

Expungement is available immediately upon completion of a deferred sentence, and convictions for decriminalized conduct may also be expunged.  Non-conviction records may be sealed only if the person has no prior felony conviction, except in cases of acquittal.  Expungement is defined to mean sealing, and there are broad exceptions.  Juvenile records are automatically sealed at disposition (with some exceptions) but may be used in subsequent sentencings.

Certificates of relief:  A Certificate of Recovery and Re-entry may be issued by the parole board to persons with no more than one nonviolent felony conviction, after completion of sentence and payment of fines and restitution.  A certificate may “serve as one determining factor as to whether the petitioner has been successful in his or her rehabilitation,” but does not remove mandatory consequences.  Certificates are available for federal and out-of-state convictions.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public and private employers may not ask about an applicant’s criminal record until an initial interview, but thereafter has no substantive or procedural standards to guide decision-making.  Rhode Island has no general law regulating consideration of conviction in licensure, but expungement lifts bars to licensure and employment and permits an individual to deny that they have been convicted.  A certificate from the parole board may improve opportunities for jobs and licenses.

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South Carolina

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony or election-law offense, or incarcerated for a misdemeanor, may not vote or hold public office until completion of sentence, including probation or parole but not satisfaction of court costs and restitution.  A person convicted of a felony loses the right to serve on a jury unless pardoned.

A person convicted of a violent crime loses the right to possess firearms or ammunition, and also handguns, unless pardoned.

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Pardon policy & practice

Pardons are granted by an independent board appointed by governor, 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, but does not result in sealing or expungement.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: about 300 pardons are granted each year, 65% of those who apply.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Records of minor misdemeanor convictions and summary offenses may be expunged and destroyed after three years if there are no subsequent convictions (domestic violence convictions must wait five years). Youthful Offender Act (age 17 to 25) convictions for first offense minor felonies and non-violent misdemeanors may be expunged after five years if no prior or subsequent convictions.  Various diversionary and other authorities, including for victims of human trafficking, may lead to expungement for non-violent first offenses.  Traffic offenses cannot be expunged.  There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge pardoned convictions. Non-conviction records are destroyed if charges are dismissed (except as part of a plea) or acquitted, although law enforcement agencies may retain records for three and a half years.  Juvenile records may be expunged when the person turns 18, with some exceptions for violent offenses and repeat offenses.  All applications for expungement must be made through the Solicitor’s Office in the judicial circuit where the charge originated, which determines eligibility, coordinating with other agencies and with courts, and processes application as necessary.  A fee of $250 applies, except that there is no fee for non-convictions.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

South Carolina has no laws restricting how criminal record may be considered in the employment context, including any limits on application-stage inquiries.  A conviction is not a bar to occupational licensure unless it directly relates to the occupation, and a pardon removes any such bars.  Expunged records are available to law enforcement but otherwise only by court order.

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South Dakota

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person serving a sentence for a felony conviction after July 1, 2012, loses the rights to vote, to serve in legislative office, and to sit on a jury until completion of sentence, including payment of fines and restitution. For those convicted prior to July 1, 2012, the vote is lost only while serving a prison sentence, including parole, even if the sentence is suspended.

A person convicted of a violent crime or a drug felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  This right is restored automatically 15 years after completion of sentence, unless sooner by pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor refers applicants to a board of pardon and parole for non-binding recommendation; only pardons granted after consideration by board qualify for sealing.  An applicant must notify DA and sentencing judge and publish notice of application in a newspaper once a week for three weeks.  No eligibility waiting period except that board generally applies a five-year waiting period after completion of sentence (including payment of court debt).  People with first offenses may apply for “exceptional pardon” wait five years after release, which expedites process.  People with misdemeanors are also eligible for expedited processing, though waiting period is either 5 or 10 years (depending on the conviction).  Board conducts public hearings at regular intervals, sends recommendations to governor.  Typically, it takes the board six months to process a case.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities, including firearms if separately specified, results in sealing (if board process followed), and eliminates predicate effect.  Pardons are frequent and process regular: about 30-40 pardons are granted annually, more than half of those who apply.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Arrests and convictions for Class 2 misdemeanors, municipal violations, and petty offenses are automatically sealed (removed from the public record) after ten years if all court-ordered conditions are satisfied.  There is no statutory authority to seal adult felony convictions unless they are pardoned. The state repository may destroy misdemeanor records after ten years, and records of individuals over 75 who have been crime-free for ten years. Sealing follows deferred adjudication for people with no prior conviction charged with any felony and misdemeanor offenses except those punishable by death or life imprisonment.  Non-conviction records may be expunged one year after arrest if no charges were filed; and at any time after acquittal, or after dismissal with consent of prosecutor.  Juvenile records may be sealed after a one-year waiting period if there are no subsequent adjudications or convictions, and if the court finds rehabilitation.  Juvenile records of victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation may be vacated and expunged.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

South Dakota has no laws restricting consideration of criminal record in employment or licensure, including limits on application-stage employer inquiries or fair chance licensing reforms.  However, the State Human Rights Division publishes a guide that classifies as “suspect” for discrimination any question on an application form or in an interview regarding an applicant’s conviction, arrest, or court record that is not substantially related to the functions of the job.  A pardon allows an individual to deny having been convicted, and results in sealing of the record after five years.

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Tennessee

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.  With some exceptions for serious crimes, the right to vote is restored upon completion of sentence, so long as all fines, fees, restitution, and child support obligations have been paid.  A certificate of restoration must be obtained from prison officials or the Board of Probation and Parole before re-registering to vote.  Those convicted of serious crimes must seek pardon before they may register vote.  The right to hold public office and to serve on a jury may be restored through a judicial restoration procedure upon expiration of sentence or by pardon.

A person convicted of a felony involving violence or drug trafficking may not possess any firearm.  Antique weapons are excepted from this prohibition. Persons convicted of any felony and domestic violence or DUI misdemeanors may not possess a handgun.  Firearms rights may generally be regained by a pardon, or judicial “certificate of restoration,” except that only expungement restores rights where the offense involved violence or drug-trafficking.  Persons with federal or out of state convictions may also petition the circuit court for judicial restoration.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and may (but is not required to) consult the parole board for non-binding advice.  Governor must report reasons to legislature “when requested.”  Eligibility after completion of sentence and additional period of good conduct; grants will be based on demonstrated rehabilitation and need, considering whether the applicant has an alternative remedy available.  A hearing is not held in every case (2/3 of applications filed are denied without a hearing).   If a hearing is held, the board notifies various interested parties, including the prosecutor, judge, and police.  Pardon restores civil rights, and firearms rights for nonviolent non-drug offenses.  Process appears regular but pardons infrequent.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  A person with no more than two convictions for specified misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies may petition for expungement on a one-time basis five years after completion of the most recent sentence.  Courts must notify defendants of their eligibility for expungement at the time of sentencing.  Expungement results in the destruction of the public record but the court retains a confidential copy that is available to law enforcement.  Victims of human trafficking may have any crimes attributable to that status expunged, but at least one of the crimes must be for prostitution. A pardon is grounds for expungement.  Expungement restores firearms rights even for those convicted of drug and violent offenses.  A special expungement filing fee has been repealed, but the regular $100 filing fee may not be waived.

Deferred adjudication leading to expungement is available to persons charged with all but serious violent and sexual offenses, with no more than one prior conviction for a felony or serious misdemeanor that resulted in confinement.  Diversion is available for those charged with misdemeanor or low-level felony offenses if a person has no prior felony or Class A misdemeanor conviction and no prior diversions.  The court must destroy public records in cases of acquittal or where charges have been dismissed; the court may also redact conviction records to expunge dismissed charges from electronic databases.  Expungement is mandatory for juvenile misdemeanors after a one-year waiting period, and other juvenile records are eligible for expungement in the court’s discretion once the person has turned 17 and a year has passed since the most recent adjudication.  Juvenile victims of human trafficking may petition to expunge prostitution convictions related to the trafficking.

Judicial certificates:  Judicial restoration of rights is available upon petition after expiration of the maximum sentence or a pardon, if the court determines that the petitioner “merits having full rights of citizenship restored” (which includes firearms rights in most cases).  Individuals who have had rights restored may also petition court for a “certificate of employability,” which lifts most licensing barriers and protects employers from negligent hiring liability.  Persons with federal or out-of-state convictions are eligible.  The court makes findings after a hearing about character, need for relief (including for employment or licensing) and public safety.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may not ask about individuals’ criminal histories until after an initial screening, and thereafter must consider a variety of militating factors in reaching a decision, including seriousness of offense and time elapsed since it occurred.  A judicial “certificate of employability” or a pardon may facilitate employment or licensure.

Licensing agencies may not reject an applicant if a conviction does not directly relate to the occupation or profession.  Individuals may request a preliminary determination about whether their criminal history will be disqualifying, and the agency must provide written notice justifying a negative decision.  Prior to denying an application or refusing to renew a license, the board must provide the individual written notice of its intention with a justification, and offer an opportunity for an appearance before the board.  In the event of denial, the board must provide written reasons and the earliest date the individual may reapply.  An individual may appeal the board’s determination to chancery court, where the board must “demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual’s… conviction is related to the applicable occupation, profession, business, or trade.”

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Texas

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony (including “high crimes” specified in the constitution) loses the rights to vote, to hold public office, and to serve on a jury.  The right to vote is restored automatically upon completion of sentence, and the other rights are restored only by a pardon.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm.  A person may possess a firearm in their home five years after completion of sentence, but restoration is otherwise by pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor may not grant a pardon except upon the affirmative recommendation of the board of pardons and paroles.  The board considers cases confidentially on a written record and recommends only a small percentage of those that apply.  Eligibility upon completion of sentence; people convicted of misdemeanors may apply.  Pardon restores civil rights, removes some legal barriers to employment and licensing, and provides basis for expungement upon application to court.  Process regular but pardons granted sparingly.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Sealing (“order of nondisclosure”) is available for most misdemeanor convictions upon completion of sentence or after a two-year waiting period for more serious misdemeanors.  Sealing is discretionary after a waiting period of up to 5 years for first-offense DUI offenses.  An order of nondisclosure prohibits criminal justice agencies from disclosing criminal history record information to the public, and such information is exempted from disclosure under the Public Information Act.  Victims of human trafficking may apply for set-aside and sealing for marijuana offenses, theft offenses, prostitution, or Class A misdemeanor solicitation, if they were placed on community supervision.

Deferred adjudication/community supervision is available for most offenses and may result in sealing: sealing is automatic for many misdemeanor charges upon disposition; sealing is available by petition for serious and repeat misdemeanor charges after a two-year waiting period, and for felony charges after five years. “Expunction” is available for non-conviction records after a waiting period ranging from 180 days to three years.  Expunction is also available for pardoned offenses, and for class C misdemeanors that have been deferred.  Sealing for juvenile adjudications is automatic at age 19 for misdemeanors and non-conviction records, as long as the person does not have a conviction or pending charges; sealing is discretionary upon petition at age 18 or two years after discharge for felonies and other adjudications ineligible for automatic sealing.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Texas has no laws restricting consideration of criminal record in employment, including limits on application-stage employer inquiries.  However, Texas has strict laws regulating background screeners, requiring that they get records only from a criminal justice agency and give individuals the right to challenge accuracy of records.  They may not publish records whose disclosure is prohibited under another state law (e.g., records that have been expunged, or which are subject to an “order of nondisclosure”), there is a civil remedy for violations.  Texas also prohibits negligent hiring suits except when the employer knew or should have known an employee committed certain high-risk offenses.  Pardoned convictions may be considered in employment and licensing decisions, but records that have been ordered expunged or sealed (OND) may not.

Licensing agencies may reject applications based on conviction only if it “directly relates” to the occupation’s duties and responsibilities, and they must also consider a variety of mitigating factors relevant to rehabilitation and likelihood of reoffending.  Agencies may not consider non-conviction records, apart from deferred adjudications.  Restricted licenses are available in some occupations. Agencies must give an applicant written notice of intent to deny, an opportunity to respond, and written reasons citing statutory factors in the event of denial.

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Utah

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony or election-related misdemeanor loses the right to vote, but only while incarcerated.  A person convicted of a felony also loses the right to sit on a jury, and regains eligibility by expungement.  The right to hold public office is regained by expungement, or after the passage of 10 years from the date of the most recent conviction, if all fines have been paid, probation or incarceration has been successfully completed, and parole has been granted.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm or any dangerous weapon.  This right may be restored by expungement or pardon.

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Pardon policy & practice

The pardon power is exercised by an independent board appointed by the governor.  The board conducts a public hearing with notice to the DA and victim.  Board requires a waiting period of five years after completion of sentence, decides by majority vote and publishes its decision with a statement of reasons.  An individual who is eligible for expungement must first exhaust that remedy.  Pardon restores all rights and relieves legal disabilities, except that it will generally state whether it restores firearms rights.  Pardons more frequent in recent years as expungement relief less available.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

A person convicted of one felony and varying numbers of misdemeanors is eligible to apply to expunge all but serious and violent offenses after a waiting period ranging from 3 to 10 years after completion of sentence, including payment of fines and restitution. If a person is eligible, an expungement order must issue unless court finds it would be “contrary to public interest.”  Vacatur and expungement are available if the offense was committed while the petitioner was subject to force, fraud, or coercion (eligible convictions include possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, criminal trespass, theft, possession of forged documents).  A petitioner must apply for and receive a “certificate of eligibility” from the Bureau of Criminal Identification before filing a petition with the court; the court may dispense with a hearing if there is no objection from the prosecutor or victim, and “shall issue” an order of expungement if not “contrary to the interests of the public.”  A pardoned conviction is automatically expunged.  Expungement entitles a person to deny that the arrest or conviction occurred; public employers and licensing boards may not ask about or consider expunged convictions.  Effective May 1, 2020, Utah’s clean slate law authorizes development of an automated expungement process for certain less serious misdemeanors and certain non-conviction records, including dismissals due to a “plea in abeyance” (deferred adjudication).

Non-conviction records are eligible for expungement by petition after 30 days if no charges are filed, the charges are dismissed and the limitations period has expired on all charges, or the person is acquitted.  Juvenile records may be expunged following a one-year waiting period after age 18, and the person has no adult convictions or pending charges.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers may ask about criminal history only after an initial interview or a conditional offer.  Public and private employers and licensing boards may not ask about or consider expunged convictions, with exceptions.  An occupational licensing agency may not disqualify based on conviction unless it is “substantially related” to the occupation and must give potential applicants a preliminary determination about whether their criminal history will be disqualifying.

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Vermont

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A conviction does not affect the right to vote or hold public office.  But a person convicted of a felony loses the right to sit on a jury, which can only be restored by a pardon.

A conviction does not affect the right to possess a firearm, but a court may prohibit a person from having a firearm as a condition of granting probation.

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Pardon policy & practice

The 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.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Expungement and sealing are available for “qualifying” crimes (nonviolent non-sexual misdemeanors and several minor felonies including drug possession), after a 5-year waiting period if no intervening convictions.  In the event of an intervening conviction, the waiting period is extended to 10 years, with no felony conviction within 7 years and no misdemeanor within 5 years.  In all cases, restitution must be paid in full.  If the state’s attorney and petitioner stipulate to the granting of the petition, the court “shall grant” the petition without a hearing. Sealing and expungement have a similar effect (in both cases the response to an inquiry is that ‘no record exists”) except that a sealed record may be used in a civil suit, and the conviction may be used as a predicate in any subsequent prosecution.  A person with a “qualifying” conviction (see above), resulting from being a victim of human trafficking, may have the conviction vacated and expunged.  Convictions for offenses committed under age 21 may be sealed two years after discharge if the person is deemed rehabilitated.

Deferred sentencing results in expungement upon successful completion.  Expungement is also available after two years under a diversion program available to those with up to two misdemeanors, and a youthful offender program (18-21) for those convicted of certain minor offenses.  The court must expunge or seal all non-conviction records after a short waiting period unless the government objects.  Juvenile records are generally unavailable to the public and may be sealed two years after discharge, if restitution has been paid, the person has no subsequent convictions or pending proceedings, and rehabilitation has been attained.

Judicial certificates:  The Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act (UCCCA) authorizes the court to issue targeted relief from mandatory collateral consequences at sentencing (Order of Limited Relief), and more thorough relief after five years (Certificate of Restoration of Rights).  Persons with out-of-state and federal convictions are eligible.  UCCCA also requires that people be informed about expungement and sealing at sentencing, and recognizes relief granted in other states.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Neither public nor private employers may ask about individuals’ criminal history—other than convictions that would trigger disqualification—until an interview or an applicant is otherwise deemed qualified.  A conviction that is considered “related to” a specific occupation may be used to deny an occupational license for over forty professions.  Employers and licensing agencies may not ask expunged or sealed convictions.  The Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act authorizes courts to issue orders relieving mandatory collateral sanctions.

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Virgin Islands

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A sentence of imprisonment for any term of more than one year suspends all the civil rights of the person so sentenced, and the person forfeits all public offices and private trusts.  The right to vote is restored upon completion of sentence, including payment of court costs, and the right to stand for office depends upon being a qualified voter.  Jury eligibility is restored by pardon.

A person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or misdemeanor domestic violence loses the right to possess a firearm or ammunition unless pardoned.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor has power to pardon offenses under local laws, and no specific process is specified.  Each governor appears to follow their own procedures and standards.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Expungement is authorized in misdemeanor cases; the government has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that expungement should not be granted.  Deferred adjudication is available for people with nonviolent first offenses and first-time drug possession offenses, with expungement after completion of probation.  Expungement is also authorized for any youthful offense after a 5-year waiting period if under age 21 at the time of the offense.  Expungement of non-conviction records is mandatory after the limitation period for charges dismissed or not prosecuted. Expunged records may be disclosed only upon court order, and only to courts in a criminal case or for government employment.  Juvenile records may be sealed on motion two years after discharge if the person has not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, and no proceeding is pending seeking conviction or adjudication.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Most public nor private employers may not ask about or consider non-conviction or sealed records.  The Virgin Islands has no general laws limiting consideration of criminal record in licensing.

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Virginia

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote, hold public office, and sit on a jury.  These rights may only be restored by the governor, through his constitutional pardon power.  Since 2016 these rights have been restored automatically through a series of executive orders, upon completion of sentence to all persons convicted of non-violent offenses, and after an additional three-year waiting period to those convicted of violent offenses.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm. Certain juvenile adjudications also count.  Restoration of this right is generally by a court in the county of residence.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and must report each pardon, with reasons, to the legislature annually.  The governor is authorized to consult with the parole board for non-binding advice.  There are several different kinds of pardon: “simple” (forgiveness); partial (to reduce sentence retroactively and used to avoid immigration consequences); “conditional” (commutation); and “absolute” (innocence).  “Simple” pardon does not expunge but serves as official forgiveness and removes some employment and education barriers.  Five-year eligibility waiting period for simple pardon, review on a paper record by the parole board with subsequent recommendation to the governor.  The governor may also grant restoration of rights through the pardon power, and since 2016 rights restoration has been automatic upon a determination of eligibility and accomplished through issuance of periodic executive orders.  Pardons in the past 10 years have been issued frequently and the process has become regular and productive.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge convictions, except that an absolute pardon (for innocence) or judicial writ of innocence permits expungement.  Deferred adjudication is available for certain first-time drug offenses, but expungement is not an option.  As to non-conviction records, courts will expunge records on petition after acquittals or where charges are nolle prossed or dismissed, but only where the court finds “manifest injustice” after a hearing, except where the person was charged with a misdemeanor and has no prior record.  The hearing may be waived by the prosecutor if they stipulate to “manifest injustice.”  After expungement, a person may deny any record and employers may not inquire about it.  Juvenile records are generally unavailable to the public and are automatically destroyed after the person turns 19, and five years have passed since the last hearing, subject to a few exceptions.


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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public employers are prohibited by statute from asking about applicants’ criminal histories until a candidate has been interviewed; additional requirements are imposed by executive order.  Employers may not ask about expunged non-conviction records, and applicants are not required to disclose them.  Licensing agencies may not reject applicants based on a conviction unless it is “directly related” to the occupation.  There is a lengthy list of specific criteria for determining direct relationship, but no provision for administrative enforcement.  In case of denial, agencies must inform applicants that their criminal record “contributed to” denial.

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Washington

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and sit on a jury.  The right to vote may be restored by a certificate of discharge from the sentencing court or an administrative agency, which requirement payment of fines and restitution, except that a certificate is available five years after completion of all non-financial aspects of the sentence.  The vote may also be “provisionally restored” once a person is no longer in state prison or under community custody, but falling behind in payment of financial obligations may result in revocation (though waiver possible on a showing of hardship).  The right to hold office is restored with the vote, and jury eligibility is also restored when the sentence is discharged.  Rights may also be restored by petition to the Clemency and Pardons Board.

A person convicted of a “serious offense” (which includes violent, drug, and sex offenses), or any other felony or domestic violence crime, is prohibited from possessing a firearm or handgun.  This right can be restored by the executive upon a finding of rehabilitation, or by the courts in less serious cases after a waiting period (5 years for felonies and 3 years for misdemeanors).

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to seek advice from the clemency and pardons board.  The governor required by state constitution to report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No formal eligibility waiting period, but applicants are generally required to wait 10 years after service of sentence.  No formal eligibility criteria, but 10 years’ wait usually required.  A petition must be filed with the board, which cannot recommend clemency until a public hearing has been held.  A pardon relieves legal disabilities and vacates the record of conviction, which may be grounds for sealing of record.  Process is regular but pardons are granted sparingly: Gov. Inslee has granted 48 pardons since taking office in 2013, about half of those recommended by the board.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Record relief:  Convictions for all but the most serious and violent offenses may be “vacated” and the charges dismissed, upon discharge.  For felonies there is a 5 to 10 year waiting period, and for misdemeanors a 3 to 5 year waiting period, during which there may be no new convictions.  Certain misdemeanors involving violence or sexual assault are ineligible, but a single domestic violence conviction may be vacated after five years.  Financial penalties need not be satisfied for felonies if five years have elapsed after supervision, but anomalously this requirement remains for misdemeanors.  Pardon automatically vacates conviction.  Vacatur results in limiting public access to state repository records, but there is no statutory authority to seal or limit access to court records.  A court rule permits limiting access to vacated court records but only in compelling circumstances.

Non-conviction records must be deleted from agency records after a two-year waiting period if disposition is indicated, and after three years if no disposition is indicated, except that deletion is discretionary: in diversion cases, if the person has an additional criminal record, or if subsequent charges are pending.  Juvenile adjudication records are automatically sealed (except serious violence, sex, and drug offenses) upon satisfaction of terms and conditions of disposition, unless the court finds compelling reasons not to seal after a hearing; juvenile adjudications ineligible for automatic sealing may be sealed after a crime-free 2-to-5 year waiting period.

Judicial certificates:  Judicial Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) are available for all but the most serious crimes, after a waiting period ranging from 1 to 5 years after sentencing or release from confinement.  CROPs prohibit licensing agencies from disqualifying individuals solely based on their conviction record.  While employers and housing providers are not required to consider them, CROPs offer some protection against liability.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Public and private employers may not ask an applicant about their criminal history until the applicant is deemed otherwise qualified, unless the employer is authorized or required by law to conduct a background check.  Public employers and licensing agencies may consider applicants’ convictions only if they occurred within the last ten years or the crime “directly relates” to the desired position.  Judicial CROP certificates prohibit most public employers and licensing agencies from disqualifying the holders, and convictions that have been vacated may be denied.

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West Virginia

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and sit on a jury.  The rights to vote and hold office are restored automatically upon completion of sentence except that those convicted of bribery may not hold office unless pardoned.  The right to sit on a jury is restored by a pardon.

A person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or of domestic violence loses the right to possess a firearm, unless the crime is expunged or pardoned.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to seek advice from the parole board.  The state constitution requires the governor to report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No formal eligibility criteria.  The board does not conduct a public hearing but must notify DA and judge before making recommendation.  Pardon lifts most legal barriers and restores firearms rights, but a pardoned conviction may be given predicate effect.  Pardons are rare.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

Some misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies are eligible for expungement after a 1 to 5 year waiting period.  A person may apply for more than one misdemeanor but only for a single felony. A hearing is required: applicants must obtain and serve documents on multiple parties, and must show by clear and convincing evidence that expungement is consistent with the general welfare and that they are rehabilitated.  If the petition is granted, the court “shall order the sealing of all records in the custody of the court and expungement of any records in the custody of any other agency or official, including law-enforcement records.”  A provision limiting a person to one expungement was repealed in 2020.  Victims of human trafficking convicted of prostitution may petition for vacatur and expungement.  Pardoned convictions are eligible for expungement after a one-year waiting period, five years after completion of sentence.  There currently exists no statutory authority for deferred adjudication.  Records of acquittals and dismissals may be expunged on petition, except where the defendant has a prior felony conviction.  Juvenile records are automatically sealed one year after discharge, or when the person turns 19, unless the case was transferred to adult court.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

West Virginia has no laws restricting consideration of criminal record in employment, including limits on application-stage employer inquiries.  Employers and licensing agencies may not access expunged convictions unless they are required by law to perform a background check.  Licensing agencies may not disqualify an applicant because of a conviction unless it has a “rational nexus” the desired occupation, determined by specified standards including seriousness of crime, passage of time, and evidence of rehabilitation.  Agencies are not required to give reasons for denial, but they are authorized to give potential candidates a preliminary determination respecting likely disqualification.  An applicant who is denied licensure may reapply after 5 years (with violent and sexual crimes subject to a longer period).

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Wisconsin

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the rights to vote and serve on a jury, and regains them upon completion of sentence.  A person convicted of a felony or a specified misdemeanor loses the right to hold public office unless pardoned.

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to possess a firearm unless pardoned.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and is assisted by a non-statutory pardon advisory board that he or she appoints.  The state constitution requires the governor to communicate pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually.  Five-year eligibility waiting period, and people with misdemeanors are ineligible.  The board holds a hearing where applicants must demonstrate a need for pardon.  Applicants are required by statute to publish notice of their intent to seek pardon and give notice to DA and sentencing judge.  The board must notify the victim.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge or seal the conviction.  Pardon policy and practice has in the past been regular and generous, and the present incumbent Gov. Tony Evers has resumed regular pardoning after a 9-year hiatus in which governors declined to issue any pardons.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

There is no statutory authority to seal or expunge convictions, except in two specialized scenarios. A youthful conviction (under 25 at time of offense) for a misdemeanor or a minor non-violent first-time felony may be expunged upon successful completion of the sentence, but only if the court orders this relief at the time of sentencing.  Victims of human trafficking may petition to have prostitution convictions vacated and expunged.  Deferred prosecution is available in domestic violence and some sex offense cases; upon successful completion of deferral, the charges are dismissed and no conviction results.  There is no provision for sealing or expunging non-conviction records, including where prosecution is deferred, although fingerprint records will be returned by law enforcement if an arrested person is released without charges or cleared of the offense. Upon petition, juvenile records may be expunged once the person turns 17 and the sentence is completed, if the court after a hearing finds a benefit to the individual and no harm to society.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Wisconsin’s general fair employment act extends to criminal record as a prohibited ground for adverse action by public and private employers and licensing agencies (it is one of only a handful of states to include such a provision and provide for its administrative enforcement).  However, it is not unlawful under this law to take adverse action based on arrest or conviction that is “substantially related” to the specific job or licensed activity.  If a conviction has been expunged, it cannot be used to show “substantial relationship.”  Public employers are also prohibited from asking civil service applicants about their criminal history until an applicant has been “certified” for a position.  If asked, a job applicant must reveal a pardoned conviction.

If a licensing agency denies a license because of a conviction, the decision must be justified in writing.  Before denying or terminating a license based on a prior conviction, an agency must state its reasons in writing, including “a statement of how the circumstances of the offense relate to the particular licensed activity.”  An agency must also provide individuals with an opportunity to show evidence of rehabilitation and fitness to engage in the licensed activity, and it may not deny if both are shown.  Individuals may request a preliminary determination about whether their criminal history will be disqualifying.

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Wyoming

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Summary:

Loss & restoration of civil/firearms rights

A person convicted of a felony loses the right to vote, hold public office, and sit on a jury.  For those with no more than one non-violent felony conviction, the right to vote is restored automatically by the Department of Corrections after completion of sentence.  For all others, the right to vote may only be restored by the governor.

A person convicted of a violent felony loses the right to possess a firearm unless pardoned.  A person convicted of drug crimes may not obtain a concealed-weapon permit, except that a misdemeanant may regain eligibility after one year.  A person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence within three years may be denied a permit.

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Pardon policy & practice

The governor decides and must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature every two years.  The governor may also restore the right to vote if this is not automatic.  People with federal and out-of-state offenses are also eligible for restoration of rights.  Eligibility for pardon 10 years after completion of sentence; 5 years for restoration of rights.  Sex offenses ineligible for either form of relief.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge.  Pardons have been infrequent in recent years: the last two governors have granted no pardons.

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Expungement, sealing & other record relief

A single felony conviction may be expunged ten years after the sentence expires if the applicant has no other felony convictions and paid any restitution.  This relief is not available for felony firearm offenses, for many sexual offenses, and for crimes involving violence, child endangerment, bribery, perjury, DUI, drug distribution.  A handful of misdemeanors (simple assault, domestic violence, reckless endangerment and breach of peace) may also be expunged after five years if the offense did not involve use of a firearm.  A hearing is required under either authority only if there is an objection.  Expungement relief is available only once for misdemeanors.  Deferred sentencing is authorized on a one-time basis for misdemeanors and first felony offenses, excluding certain serious crimes, and no conviction results.  Non-conviction records may be expunged 180 days after dismissal of proceedings if no other charges are pending.  Victims of human trafficking may have prostitution convictions vacated, after which they presumably may be expunged as non-convictions.  Juvenile records (and certain municipal and circuit court cases, and non-conviction records of minors charged as adults) may be expunged and destroyed upon petition after reaching age 18, if the person has no subsequent felony convictions and rehabilitation is attained to the satisfaction of the court or prosecutor.

A single felony conviction may be expunged ten years after the sentence expires if the applicant has no other felony convictions and paid any restitution.  This relief is not available for felony firearm offenses, for many sexual offenses, and for crimes involving violence, child endangerment, bribery, perjury, DUI, drug distribution.  A handful of misdemeanors (simple assault, domestic violence, reckless endangerment and breach of peace) may also be expunged after five years if the offense did not involve use of a firearm.  A hearing is required under either authority only if there is an objection.  Expungement relief is available only once for misdemeanors.  Deferred sentencing is authorized on a one-time basis for misdemeanors and first felony offenses, excluding certain serious crimes, and no conviction results.  Non-conviction records may be expunged 180 days after dismissal of proceedings if no other charges are pending.  Victims of human trafficking may have prostitution convictions vacated, after which they presumably may be expunged as non-convictions.  Juvenile records (and certain municipal and circuit court cases, and non-conviction records of minors charged as adults) may be expunged and destroyed upon petition after reaching age 18, if the person has no subsequent felony convictions and rehabilitation is attained to the satisfaction of the court or prosecutor.

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Criminal record in employment & licensing

Wyoming has no laws restricting consideration of criminal record in employment, including limits on application-stage employer inquiries.  Licensing agencies may not deny licensure based on a conviction that is more than 20 years old, except where the person is still under sentence or the sentence was completed fewer than 10 years before, unless the elements of the offense are “directly related” to the specific duties and responsibilities of that occupation.  Agencies are also directed to ensure that applicants have an adequate opportunity to appeal a denial.  Dozens of statutes regulating specific occupations have been amended to conform with general law, and in some cases to provide functional standards for determining “direct relationship.”

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