Sealing Criminal Records in Nevada (NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255)
By Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Most Nevada criminal records can be sealed so they no longer appear on the person's background checks. The waiting period to become eligible for a record seal increases with the severity of the offense:

Nevada conviction

Record seal waiting period

(after the case closes)

Dismissed or acquitted charges (no conviction)

Immediately

Misdemeanors (except DUI and battery domestic violence)

2 years

Gross misdemeanors

5 years

Category E felonies

Misdemeanor DUI

Misdemeanor battery domestic violence

7 years

Category D felonies

Category C felonies

12 years

Category B felonies

Category A felonies 

15 years

Three types of Nevada criminal convictions can never be sealed: (1) crimes against a child, (2) sex offenses, or (3) felony DUIs. But any charge that results in a dismissal or acquittal can get sealed right away.

People with criminal histories in Nevada are advised to pursue a record seal as soon as they are eligible. Having a criminal record greatly increases their risk of getting fired from their current jobs and rejected by prospective employers. People with criminal records may also be disqualified from renting property and taking out loans.

Nevada criminal record sealing is a multi-step, detail-heavy process that takes several weeks and varies with each court. Experienced Nevada record seal attorneys can handle the entire procedure for them.

In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Nevada criminal record seals including time frames, fees, application processes, juvenile records, and pardons.  Click on a topic to go directly to that section:

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1. What is a record seal in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Criminal records are public. Anyone may search for people's past arrests and convictions in government databases. But there is a process to make criminal records private...

A record seal is when a court orders that a person's criminal records be removed from government databases. This way, the general public no longer can find the criminal record in a background search.

1.1. Benefits of record seals

People with criminal records in Nevada are at a significant disadvantage. This is especially true during times of economic recession and high jobless rates.

Many employers will not hire you. Many landlords will not lease to you. Many creditors will not loan to you. By having your criminal record sealed, it will not come up in a background checks. Therefore, you will face less discrimination.

Another benefit to having your record sealed is that you do not have to tell anyone that you had a criminal record. If anyone asks you whether you have a criminal record, you can deny it. You can even deny having a criminal record while you are under oath. (Learn more in our article about denying having a Nevada criminal record.)

Finally, getting a record seal restores the person's rights to vote, serve on a jury or hold office in Nevada.1

1.2. Sealing versus expungements

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Sealing makes criminal records invisible. Expunging makes them physically disappear.

Sealing a criminal record makes it invisible. The record still exists, but most people can never find it.

In contrast, "expunging" a criminal record physically destroys it so there is no trace left.

Some states such as California offer record expungments, but Nevada does not. Certainly expunging is preferable to sealing, but there is little practical difference.2

2. When can I get my Nevada criminal record sealed?

It depends on the case, and some offenses may never be sealed.

Note that people who are currently being prosecuted for a crime are automatically ineligible for a record seal. Depending on how the matter resolves, they may be eligible for a seal afterwards.3

2.1. Dismissals and acquittals

Defendants may petition the court for a record seal immediately in either of the following situations:

  • The charge was dismissed, or
  • The defendant was acquitted (found "not guilty") of the charges at trial

Therefore, Nevada law requires no waiting period to get matters dismissed when there was no conviction.4

2.2. Sealable convictions

Defendants convicted of a Nevada crime can usually get a seal after a statutorily-determined waiting period. The more serious the offense, the lengthier the wait:

Nevada crime

Waiting period to get record sealed

Misdemeanor convictions other than DUI and battery domestic violence

2 years after case closes

Gross misdemeanor convictions

5 years after case closes

DUI convictions

7 years after case closes

Battery domestic violence convictions

7 years after case closes

Category E felonies convictions

7 years after case closes

Category D felonies convictions

12 years after case closes

Category C felonies convictions

12 years after case closes

Category B felonies convictions

15 years after case closes

Category A felonies convictions

15 years after case closes

Note that the waiting period begins only after the case closes. A case is considered "closed" in Nevada when the defendant has completed all terms of the sentence. This includes paying all fines, completing any required classes, serving jail time, and/or completing probation.5

Also note that people who completed a program for reentry through the Nevada Department of Corrections may be eligible for a record seal earlier than the normal waiting period.6

2.3. Unsealable convictions

The following types of Nevada offenses may never get sealed.

  • Crime against children (under 18)
  • Sex crimes 
  • Felony charges of drunk driving (DUI) or drugged driving (DUID)

Below is a nearly complete list of all the Nevada crimes currently ineligible for record seals:

Category of Nevada crimes ineligible for record seals

Examples of Nevada crimes ineligible for record seals

Crimes against children (under 18)

Kidnapping (unless the defendant is the child's parent or guardian)

False imprisonment (unless the defendant is the child's parent or guardian)

Involuntary servitude (unless the defendant is the child's parent or guardian)

Sex trafficking

Prostitution

Any attempt to commit the above crimes

Sex crimes

Rape

Open or gross lewdness (felony)

Indecent exposure (felony)

Statutory sexual seduction (felony)

Battery with intent to commit sexual assault

1st degree murder if perpetrated during sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual molestation of a child less than 14.

Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child

Child pornography

Incest

Lewdness with a child

Sexual penetration of a human corpse

Sexual conduct between teachers or school employees

Luring a child or mentally ill person (felony)

Administering drugs to a person to enable one of the aforementioned crimes

Any attempt to commit the above crimes

Felony DUIs

Third-time felony in 7 years

DUI causing injury or death

Vehicular homicide

Note that a person charged with an unsealable offense that then gets dismissed may have the record sealed right away. Any Nevada charge that does not result in a conviction is eligible for immediate sealing, no matter how serious the charge.7

3. Can I get only part of my Nevada criminal record sealed?

No. Nevada courts will either seal a person's entire record or seal nothing at all. For example if a person has been convicted of both drug possession (a sealable offense) and felony DUI (an unsealable offense), the person may not get the drug case sealed. Even though drug possession is normally sealable, having the felony DUI conviction disqualifies the persons' entire record from being sealed.8

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The record seal process in Nevada takes several months from start to finish.

4. How long does it take to get a Nevada criminal record sealed?

A few weeks to a few months depending on the case. The reason for the long wait is that the Nevada Criminal History Repository in Carson City takes several weeks to comply with a court's order to seal. Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite this process.

5. How much does it cost to get a Nevada criminal record sealed?

It depends on the court presiding over the record seal. In Las Vegas Justice Court, defendants who attempt to get a record seal without an attorney can expect to pay about $150. The breakdown of fees is as follows:

Nevada record sealing task

Fee

(keyed to Las Vegas Justice Court)

Obtaining criminal history (“SCOPE”) from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

$10

Obtaining criminal history from Nevada Department of Public Safety

$23.50

Fingerprinting service

About $25

Filing Petition and Order to Seal Records with Las Vegas Justice Court

$74

Obtaining four certified copies of signed Order to Seal (more or less may be needed)

$12 ($3 per copy)

Postage for mailing out order to seal to various government agencies

$3.57 ($1.19 per envelope)

6. Where do I apply for a Nevada criminal record seal?

In general, the court that presided over the criminal case is the one that may seal the record. For example if a person gets a trespass conviction in Henderson Municipal Court, that person would petition the Henderson Municipal Court for a record seal.

Depending on the situation, a person may be able to petition just one court even if he/she has cases in several different courts. For example, Eighth Judicial District Court is comprised of several lower township courts like North Las Vegas Justice Court and Laughlin Justice Court. If a person has criminal records in both North Las Vegas and Laughlin, he/she may be able to file just one record seal petition with the Eighth Judicial District Court.9

7. How do I seal my Nevada criminal records?

The procedure differs in every Nevada court. It typically involves (1) obtaining your criminal records, (2) submitting a petition to seal to the prosecutor and a judge, and then (3) mailing the order to seal to various government agencies.

The following is the general step-by-step process in Clark County:  

7.1. Clark County record seals procedure

Step 1:

The first step is to obtain a current, verified copy of your criminal history for the purpose of sealing your record. Contact Las Vegas Metro at (702) 828-3475 for current instructions and fee information.

If your charges resulted in a conviction, you must also obtain a "judgment of conviction and discharge." You can obtain discharge papers from the District Court Clerk at 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89155.

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The first step of getting a Nevada record seal is getting a copy of a criminal history report ("SCOPE").

Step 2:

The second step is to type up (not handwrite) a stipulation, petition, affidavit and order. (Sample forms can be found at the Clark County District Attorney's website.)

Both the petition and the order must include:

  • all your arrests you wish to be sealed
  • which police agency arrested you
  • the date of the arrest(s)
  • the criminal charge(s)
  • the final disposition of each arrest (whether you were convicted, acquitted or if the case was dismissed).

If your Nevada criminal history (from step 1) does not include a final disposition, you must obtain documentation of the final disposition from either the law enforcement agency that arrested you or the court where the arrest was filed.

The petition and order must also list all the agencies that have copies of your criminal record, such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Clark County District Attorney.

You must sign and date the stipulation, petition, affidavit and order. Then make three (3) copies of the signed stipulation, three (3) copies of the signed petition and signed affidavit, and three (3) copies of the signed order.

Step 3:

The third step is to mail (or drop off) all your paperwork to the District Attorney's office at 200 Lewis Avenue, Room 3303, P.O. Box 552212, Las Vegas, NV 89155. The package should include:

  • the criminal history printout
  • the judgment of conviction and discharge (if applicable)
  • your original stipulation plus the three (3) copies
  • your original petition and affidavit plus the three (3) copies
  • your original order plus the three (3) copies.

It will take several weeks for the Clark County District Attorney's office to review your petition. They will keep one copy of everything you send, and they will eventually mail back your originals and excess copies. If they sign your order, they agree that your criminal record should be sealed. If they do not sign your order, they believe your criminal record should not be sealed.

Step 4:

Gavel_20seal
A Nevada judge will usually sign off on an order to seal if the prosecution agrees.

If the Clark County District Attorney's office does not sign the order to seal, they will mail you a short explanation as to why. If it is just because you neglected to fill out the forms correctly, you can fix the problem and resend the corrected paperwork to them. Otherwise, you may try to bypass the District Attorney's office and ask for a judicial hearing to argue for a seal. But the judge will probably not grant it without the D.A.'s approval.

If the D.A.'s office mails back a signed order to seal, take all the paperwork to the court clerk for filing instructions. The judge will probably agree to the order to seal because the D.A. already approved it.

After the judge signs the order to seal, the forms will be returned to you. Then you will be responsible for distributing signed copies of the order to all the agencies that have copies of your criminal records.

7.2. Other Nevada courts

Some Nevada courts have posted online their record seal instruction manuals:

8. What if the court rejects my record seal?

If the court rejects a petition to seal, the person must wait two (2) years before trying again. A person may not petition a Nevada court more than two (2) times to seal a criminal record.

Note that even if a person qualifies for a record seal, the court may still choose to deny the petition. The sealing of criminal records is always a matter of discretion with the court. But in practices, courts almost always grant eligible record seals.

It is strongly suggested that people hire a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer to petition to seal their criminal record for them. Having an experienced Nevada criminal attorney at the helm will significantly raise the odds of the court granting the petition on the first try.10

9. Can sealed Nevada records be reopened?

Once a person's criminal record is sealed, some prosecutors and agencies may still view it under very limited circumstances:

  • If the person's charges were dismissed, a prosecutor may reopen his/her criminal record if the person is subsequently arrested for the same or a similar offense.
  • If the person was convicted, a prosecutor or other criminal defendant may apply to reopen his/her criminal record in order to find information about other people involved in the crime.
  • Some agencies may inspect criminal record for specific purposes. For instance, the Gaming Control Board may view a person's criminal record to determine his/her fitness to hold a gaming license.

And of course, a person may petition the court to inspect his/her own sealed criminal records.11

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Most Nevada juvenile records are automatically sealed when the person turns 21.

10. Can I seal my juvenile records in Nevada?

Many juveniles get their records sealed automatically upon turning twenty-one (21). This includes juveniles who:

  • have not been convicted of a crime that would have been a felony had an adult committed it, and
  • who have not been convicted of any other crime involving violence or lewdness with a minor.

Otherwise, the person may try to petition the court to seal his/her Nevada juvenile criminal record upon turning thirty (30) years old.

Nevada juvenile courts usually grant record seals as long as:

  • The person has not since been convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors involving moral turpitude, AND
  • The person has been rehabilitated

For juvenile cases in Clark County, the Juvenile Records Division at (702) 455-5220 can provide record sealing instructions.12

11. Can I get my federal case sealed?

Federal law does permit expungements for first-time drug offenders convicted of simple drug possession while under 21.

Otherwise, federal seals or expungements are very rare. A Nevada record seal attorney would need to research whether a federal court would entertain a motion to seal.13

12. Are pardons the same as record seals in Nevada?

No. Pardons are a government-issued "forgiveness" of a person's past crime. Pardons do not erase the record from public view like sealing does.

Note that pardons are another way of reinstating the right to vote and serve on a jury. And pardons are the only possible way to reinstate gun rights.14

13. Can a Nevada record seal give me back my gun rights?

No. People who lost their firearm rights because of a felony or battery domestic violence conviction cannot regain their gun rights through a record seal. Nevada pardons are the only vehicle to possibly reinstating gun rights. (See the previous question.)

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Call 702-333-3673 for a Las Vegas Nevada record seal attorney.

Call a Las Vegas, Nevada record seal lawyer...

If you have Nevada arrests or convictions on your record, contact our Las Vegas record seal attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to schedule a free consultation. We may be able to get your entire criminal history sealed and vastly improve your job, housing and credit prospects.

¿Habla español? Más información sobre sellado de antecedentes penales en Nevada.

To learn about California expungements, go to our article on California expungements.


Legal References: 

  1. NRS 179.285.
  2. California Penal Code § 1203.4.
  3. NRS 179.245.
  4. NRS 179.255.
  5. NRS 179.259.
  6. NRS 179.245(5).
  7. NRS 179.245.
  8. See Id.
  9. NRS 179.265.
  10. NRS 179.295.
  11. NRS 62H.130.
  12. 18 USC § 3607(c).
  13. NRS 213.090.
  14. Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners.

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