Sealing Nevada Criminal Records

Read this informative article written by Morgan Shah published in the bar journal Communiqué (Mar. 2024)

By Morgan F. Shah

Every interaction with the criminal justice system creates a record. From traffic tickets and parking citations to arrests, dismissed charges, and convictions – it’s all there, waiting for the next background check. For those with a troubled past, these records create significant barriers to housing, employment, educational opportunities, and public assistance. Record sealing provides eligible individuals with a chance to leave the past behind and gain access to a brighter future.

Overview of the record sealing process

Although the Nevada Legislature established a public policy in favor of second chances, see NRS 179.2405, there is currently no mechanism for automatically sealing eligible criminal records in Nevada. A person wishing to seal past criminal records must obtain an official criminal history report from the State and file a petition with the court requesting that their records be sealed. The prosecuting agency and law enforcement involved in the underlying case(s) will be notified of the petition and have the opportunity to object. In most cases, a rebuttable presumption in favor of sealing the records will apply where all statutory requirements have been met. NRS 179.2445. If the petition is granted, the order must be distributed to all relevant agencies to complete the process.

Timing is key

To be eligible for sealing, the charges must meet the waiting periods set forth in NRS Chapter 179, which vary depending on the crime and case disposition. For example, felony waiting periods range from two to ten years. There is no wait for charges that were dismissed, acquitted, or decriminalized. Convictions for crimes against children pursuant to NRS 179D.0357, sexual offenses pursuant to NRS 179.245(8)(b), felony DUI, and home invasion with a deadly weapon can never be sealed. NRS 179.245(6).

The waiting period begins to run at the close of each case. This can mean the date the last fine was paid, the date of release from parole or probation, the date of release from jail or prison, or the date other court requirements were completed. “Minor moving or standing violations” that fail to meet the waiting period may be omitted from the petition, so long as the other records have met the relevant time requirement. NRS 179.245(5).

Legal effect of record sealing

Once sealed, the records are removed from public view and the proceedings are deemed never to have occurred. The petitioner’s rights to vote, hold office, and sit on a jury are also restored. NRS 179.285. However, the records continue to exist, and some government agencies and professional licensing boards can access sealed records under specified circumstances. NRS 179.301; NRS 179.259. Moreover, the right to bear arms is unaffected by record sealing and can only be restored by a pardon. NRS 202.360. Therefore, even those who successfully seal their criminal records may continue to face some limitations based on their history.

Learn more

Nevada Legal Services provides free legal education, self-help materials, legal advice, and representation for eligible Nevadans seeking to seal their past criminal records, as well as CLE presentations and support for pro bono volunteers. Criminal record sealing community education classes are open to all and offered on a regular basis in partnership with the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. For upcoming class dates and record sealing resources, please visit nevadalegalservices.org/criminal-record-sealing.

About the author

Morgan F. Shah serves as Director of Community Engagement at Nevada Legal Services, Nevada’s only statewide nonprofit legal aid organization providing free civil legal assistance to low-income residents in every county. Individuals interested in sealing their Nevada criminal records can request pro bono assistance by completing an intake application online at www.nevadalegalservices.org or calling the nearest NLS office.

About the article

© 2024 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

This article was originally published in the Communiqué (Mar. 2024), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2024/communique-mar-2024/.

The articles and advertisements appearing in Communiqué magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the CCBA, the CCBA Publications Committee, the editorial board, or the other authors. All legal and other issues discussed are not for the purpose of answering specific legal questions. Attorneys and others are strongly advised to independently research all issues.

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