Understanding the Process of Sealing Criminal Records in Nevada


Can you have criminal records sealed in Nevada? This question often arises for those who have had brushes with the law and are seeking a fresh start. A comprehensive understanding of Nevada’s laws on record sealing can make the difference in navigating this complex process successfully. This article will delve into the intricacies of having a record sealed, with a particular focus on the state of Nevada.

What is a Sealed Record?

Understanding the concept of a sealed record is the first step in navigating the legal intricacies surrounding criminal records. When a record is sealed, it is essentially hidden from most public searches. This means that for most intents and purposes, your record will appear as if the events it records never occurred.

The main benefit of having a criminal record sealed in Nevada is to eliminate the stigma associated with a criminal record. With a sealed record, you are legally permitted to deny the events of the record ever occurred in most situations. It also prevents potential employers, landlords, or anyone conducting a background check from seeing the sealed offenses.

However, there are some exceptions. Certain entities, such as law enforcement agencies and the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, can still access sealed records under specific circumstances. So, while having a record sealed can vastly improve your life opportunities, it is not a completely foolproof solution.

Explanation of Sealed Records

In the legal system of Nevada, sealing a record refers to the practice of removing specific criminal records from public view. Under Nevada Revised Statutes NRS 179.245 and NRS 179.255, individuals with a criminal history have the right to petition for their records to be sealed once a certain amount of time has passed.

The waiting period before you can apply for your records to be sealed depends on the severity of the crime committed. For instance, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you must wait 1 year after your case closes. For a category E felony, the waiting period is 2 years, and for a category D, C, B felony or a gross misdemeanor, it is 7 years.

It’s important to understand that not all offenses can be sealed. Certain crimes, like sex offenses and crimes against children, are typically not eligible for record sealing.

The Distinction Between Sealed and Expunged Records

While many people use the terms interchangeably, sealed records and expunged records are distinct legal concepts, each with their own implications and processes. Understanding the difference can help you make an informed decision about which option is best for you.

In Nevada, when a record is sealed, it is hidden from most public databases and cannot be accessed by employers, landlords, or the general public. However, as mentioned earlier, some entities like law enforcement agencies can still access sealed records in specific circumstances.

Expungement, on the other hand, is a process that entirely destroys or removes the record, as if the conviction or arrest never happened. Nevada law does not allow for expungement of records. Only record sealing is permitted.

In summary, while both sealing and expungement aim to mitigate the impact of a criminal record, they do so to different extents and through different processes. Knowing the specifics of Nevada law can help guide your decision-making process.

Eligibility for Sealing Criminal Records in Nevada

Understanding the eligibility requirements for sealing a criminal record in Nevada is crucial. The process can be complicated, and not all records can be sealed.

Criteria for Eligibility

In Nevada, the eligibility for sealing criminal records generally depends on the type of crime committed and the time that has passed since the case was closed. To be eligible, you must not have any charges pending, and you must have completed all the terms of your sentence, including any parole or probation.

Before a record can be sealed, all arrests, charges, or citations on the record must be resolved. Unresolved arrests, charges, or citations can make you ineligible for record sealing. Also, if you have been dishonorably discharged from probation, you cannot have your records sealed.

Types of Crimes that Can be Sealed

While many crimes can be sealed under Nevada law, certain offenses are not eligible. These generally include crimes against children, sexual offenses, and felonies classified as ‘crimes against a person’ such as murder, kidnapping, and human trafficking.

Less serious crimes, like misdemeanors and many types of felonies, can often be sealed. These include crimes like theft, drug offenses, and non-violent crimes.

Timeframes Required Before Applying for a Record Seal

Nevada law has specific timeframes that must be met before you can apply to have your record sealed. The time you have to wait depends on the severity of your offense:

  • Misdemeanors: 1 year
  • Gross misdemeanors: 2 years
  • Category E felonies: 2 years
  • Category D, C, B felonies: 5-7 years
  • Category A felonies: 10 years

The Process of Sealing Criminal Records in Nevada

The process of sealing a criminal record in Nevada can be complex and time-consuming, but understanding the steps involved can help streamline the process.

Steps Involved in the Process

The first step is to obtain a copy of your criminal record. Once you have your record, you must then prepare a petition to seal your records. This petition is submitted to the court that handled your case.

The petition must include specific information, such as the date of arrest, the charges, the law enforcement agency involved, and the outcome of the case.

Once the petition has been filed, it needs to be served to the District Attorney’s office, who then has the opportunity to object to the petition. If there’s no objection, a judge will review the petition and, if granted, issue an order to seal the records.

Importance of Hiring a Lawyer for Record Sealing

Given the complexity of the process and the importance of getting it right, hiring an attorney experienced in record sealing can be invaluable. A lawyer can guide you through the process, ensuring all paperwork is accurately completed and filed, increasing the likelihood that your petition to seal will be granted.

Probable Duration of the Sealing Process

The duration of the sealing process can vary greatly depending on the specifics of your case and the court’s caseload. On average, the process takes between 3-6 months. However, it can take longer if complications arise.

Implications of Sealed Records in Nevada

Having your criminal record sealed can have far-reaching implications, especially in areas like employment, housing, and education where background checks are common.

How Sealing a Record Impacts Background Checks

Once a record is sealed in Nevada, it is removed from most public databases. This means that if a potential employer, landlord, or educational institution conducts a background check, they will not see your sealed criminal record. In essence, for most purposes, it’s as though the criminal offense never occurred.

However, it’s important to note that while sealed records are not accessible to the public, certain governmental bodies and law enforcement agencies may still have access to them under specific circumstances.

Limitations of Sealed Records

While having a record sealed can open up new opportunities and give a fresh start, it does have some limitations. Certain entities, including the Nevada State Gaming Control Board and law enforcement agencies, can still access sealed records under certain circumstances. In addition, some professional licensing boards may still consider sealed criminal records when determining eligibility for licensure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sealing Criminal Records in Nevada

As with any legal process, there are common questions that many people have when considering whether to seal their criminal records.

Can All Crimes be Sealed?

No, not all crimes can be sealed in Nevada. Serious offenses such as crimes against children, sexual offenses, and violent felonies like murder or kidnapping typically cannot be sealed. Most misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and many felonies, however, can be sealed. It’s best to consult with a lawyer to determine eligibility for your specific case.

How Long Does the Sealing Process Take?

The time it takes to seal a record can vary greatly. On average, it takes between 3-6 months. The process can be longer if there are complications, such as objections from the District Attorney’s office or a large caseload at the court.

Will Sealed Records Show Up on Background Checks?

Generally, sealed records will not show up on background checks conducted by employers, landlords, or educational institutions. However, certain government bodies and law enforcement agencies may still have access to these records in specific situations. This means that while a sealed record can vastly improve your life opportunities, it does not entirely erase the past.

Case Study: A Successful Record Sealing in Nevada

Examining real-life instances can provide a clearer understanding of the process and potential benefits of record sealing. Let’s consider a recent case in Nevada where record sealing played a pivotal role in an individual’s life.

Overview of the Case

John Doe, not his real name, was charged with a non-violent felony (Category D) in his early twenties. A poor decision had led to a significant drug possession charge, and he was sentenced to probation, which he completed successfully.

Steps Taken for Successful Sealing

After serving his probation and ensuring he had no pending charges, John waited for the required seven-year period before he could apply to have his record sealed. Once the timeframe had been met, he hired an experienced attorney to guide him through the complex record sealing process.

His attorney obtained a copy of his criminal record and prepared a detailed petition to seal the record, ensuring all necessary information was included. The petition was filed with the court and served to the District Attorney’s office, which raised no objections.

Impact on the Individual’s Life Post-Sealing

Within a few months, John’s record was officially sealed. This had immediate and positive effects on his life. He was able to apply for jobs without worrying about potential employers discovering his past offense. His sealed record also removed barriers in finding housing, as landlords conducting background checks found no criminal history. John’s story shows how powerful and life-changing record sealing can be for eligible individuals in Nevada.


In conclusion, sealing a criminal record in Nevada is a complex process, but one that can have significant benefits for those who qualify. Understanding the eligibility criteria, the process involved, and the implications can provide a fresh start for many. However, it’s crucial to remember that not all crimes are eligible for sealing, and even when a record is sealed, certain entities may still have access to these records under certain circumstances.

Whether you’re just starting to explore the possibility of sealing your record or you’re ready to start the process, consider consulting with an experienced attorney. They can guide you through the intricacies of Nevada law and help maximize your chances of a successful outcome, as illustrated in the case study of John Doe. Despite its complexities, the process of record sealing holds the potential to open new doors and offer a renewed sense of freedom for those haunted by past mistakes.