People with "battery domestic violence" ("BDV") on their records may be able to get them sealed in Nevada. If the BDV charges were dismissed, the record seal process can start right away. Otherwise there's a waiting period of 7 years for misdemeanors, and 12 or 15 years for felonies.
Sealing Nevada criminal records is a lengthy and confusing process. However it's very important for improving the person's job prospects and social standing. In this article our Las Vegas domestic violence lawyers explain who's eligible for BDV records seals, and how and when to go about it.
How does battery domestic violence get on a person's criminal record in Nevada?
Getting arrested for battery constituting domestic violence in Nevada automatically goes on the arrestee's criminal record. Note that the BDV arrest remains on the arrestee's record even if he/she never gets charged or if the charges later get dismissed.
If the arrestee is ultimately convicted of BDV in Nevada, a record of the conviction goes on his/her criminal record as well. The only way to get rid of arrest and conviction records is through the sealing process.
Who can see BDV on a person's criminal record in Nevada?
Criminal records are a matter of public record in Nevada, so anyone can find them through an internet search. Employers routinely do "background checks" of job applicants to see if they have a criminal record. The only way a BDV conviction becomes invisible to others is if the person gets the record sealed. Once it's sealed, almost no one has access to that information.
Note that sealing is not the same as expunging. Expunging means that the record is destroyed, whereas sealing just means that the record is "cloaked" and therefore impossible to see by most people. Unlike California, Nevada law does not allow people to have domestic violence records expunged.1
Should people get their BDV records sealed in Nevada?
It's a good idea whenever possible. Having battery domestic violence on a person's criminal record hurts his/her future job prospects since employers look down on it. It's also socially stigmatizing.
Once a person gets his/her battery domestic violence record sealed in Nevada, no one has to know about it. And the person can legally deny on a job application or during a court hearing that he/she has ever been in trouble for BDV.
When can domestic violence records be sealed in Nevada?
It depends on whether the person gets convicted of domestic violence and the circumstances of the case:2
When the person is not convicted of battery domestic violence:
- If the person gets arrested for BDV but the prosecutor decides not to bring charges, then the person may commence the record seal process after 1 year has passed from the date of arrest. (This is because the D.A. has a year to change its mind about whether to bring criminal charges.)
- If the person gets charged with BDV but the prosecutor later drops the case, then the person may commence the record seal process immediately.
When the person gets convicted of battery domestic violence:
- If the defendant is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, he/she has to wait 7 years after the case is closed to begin the record seal process.
Note that BDV is prosecuted as a misdemeanor if Nevada if it's the person's first- or second-time BDV arrest AND no deadly weapons were used, no strangulation occurred, and the victim sustained no major injuries.
- If the defendant is convicted of category C felony domestic violence, he/she has to wait 12 years after the case is closed to begin the record seal process.
Note that BDV is prosecuted as a category C felony in Nevada if it's the defendant third BDV case within seven years, OR if the victim sustained substantial bodily harm in Nevada and no deadly weapon was used.
- If the defendant is convicted of category B felony domestic violence, he/she has to wait 15 years after the case is closed to begin the record seal process.
Note that BDV is prosecuted as a category B felony in Nevada if the defendant used a deadly weapon.3
Can anybody get his/her domestic violence records sealed in Nevada?
Most people can. Although prosecutors and judges can always deny a record seal, that's very rare and there're ways to appeal. And some people with extensive criminal records may not be eligible for a record seal until extra time has passed. It depends on the person's individual criminal history.
How does a person get a BDV record sealed in Nevada?
It's a long and convoluted process with many steps. It also depends on where in Nevada the person was arrested and which court handled the case. That's why it's recommended that people retain experienced counsel to do it for them. In general, the record seal process requires the following4:
- First the person has to get a printout of his/her police record (called a "SCOPE"). The record must come from the police agency which arrested the person. This costs a fee.
- Then the person has to complete a "petition for record seal," which is a several page document. Then the person submits this petition along with the police record to the prosecutor's office which brought the BDV charges. This step is usually free. Note that prosecutors rarely contest record seals unless the person is ineligible for it.
- If the prosecutor agrees with the petition, the next step is to submit it to the court which heard the BDV case. This step costs a fee. Note that judges rarely deny record seals as long as the prosecution signed off on them.
- If the judge grants the petition, the final step is to mail file-stamped copies of the judge's "order to seal the criminal record" to all the agencies in Nevada that have a record of the person's BDV case. Examples of such agencies include the Nevada criminal history repository and police stations. This also costs money, and the entire process can take several months.
Note that the prosecution is very particular about record seal petitions. They will deny them if the petitioner makes a small procedural mistake on the petition that may have nothing to do with the merits of his/her case. But even then the petitioner may correct the mistake and re-submit the petition.
Also note that some agencies won't recognize a judicial order to seal records unless it's been embossed with the official court seal, which costs extra. For more information see our article on sealing Nevada criminal records.
Does it matter if the person doesn't live in Nevada?
No. Anyone who has a criminal record for battery domestic violence in Nevada may petition to have the record sealed even if he/she doesn't live in the state. But out-of-state petitioners are especially encouraged to retain local counsel because the process requires physically dropping off the petition at the prosecutor's office and with the judge's clerks.
Arrested for battery domestic violence in Nevada? Get your record sealed…
If you've been accused of domestic violence in Las Vegas or elsewhere in the state, call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE to discuss for free how to "get your record sealed." This will improve your employment and dating prospects and allow you to return to a "clean slate."
We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Clark County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight, Beatty, and Tonopah.
- Go back to our main page on Nevada battery domestic violence law.
- Learn about Nevada battery domestic violence penalties.
- Learn about the Nevada battery domestic violence definition.
- Learn about Nevada battery domestic violence defenses.
1See our article on California record seals and expungements.
2NRS 179.245 - Sealing records after conviction: Persons eligible; petition; notice; hearing; order.
3NRS 200.485 - Battery which constitutes domestic violence.
4For an example, see the Clark County District Attorney website.