Sealing a criminal record after a Nevada conviction purges it from background checks. People with sealed records can legally deny ever having a criminal history, such as during a job interview or under oath (with some exceptions).
This can greatly enhance a person’s employment, educational, and housing prospects. Dismissed charges are sealable right away. Otherwise, the waiting period to get a seal depends on the conviction:
|Nevada conviction to be sealed||Record sealing waiting period (after the case closes)|
|Most misdemeanors||1 year|
|Gross misdemeanors, category E felonies, and misdemeanor battery, harassment, stalking, or violation of a protection order||2 years|
|Most category D felonies, category C felonies, or category B felonies||5 years|
|Misdemeanor DUI and battery domestic violence||7 years|
|Category A felonies, burglary of a residence, and felony crimes of violence||10 years|
|Sex crimes, crimes against children, invasion of the home with a deadly weapon pursuant to NRS 205.067, and felony DUI.||Never|
Criminal record sealing is a multi-step, detail-heavy process that takes several months and varies with each court. Therefore, people are advised to retain experienced Nevada record seal attorneys to handle the entire procedure.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the 5 steps to seal records and answer the following questions:
- 1. How do I seal my criminal record in Nevada?
- 2. When am I eligible for a record seal?
- 3. Are there some records that cannot be sealed?
- 4. How much does it cost?
- 5. How long does it take?
- 6. Can I get a partial record seal?
- 7. What if my petition is denied?
- 8. Do sealed records show up on background checks?
- 9. Can I deny having a criminal record once it gets sealed?
- 10. Will a record seal restore my gun rights?
- 11. Will a record seal restore my right to vote?
- 12. Will a record seal help immigrants stay in the U.S.?
- 13. Can sealed records be reopened?
- 14. Is sealing the same as expungement?
Each jurisdiction has its own record seal procedure. One minor error in the paperwork pushes the entire process back several months. Consequently, people are encouraged to seek legal counsel experienced in record seals to take care of the process for them.
This section discuss the record seal process in:
- Clark County (including Las Vegas)
- Other Nevada courts
- Federal court
- Juvenile court
1.1. Clark County District and Justice Courts’ record seal procedures
Clark County encompasses the Eighth Judicial District Court and the Justice Courts of Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Laughlin, Mesquite, Goodsprings, Searchlight, Bunkerville, Moapa, and Moapa Valley. Each court follows a nearly-identical 5-step record seal process:
Obtain a current, verified copy of the petitioner’s criminal history, called a SCOPE. Contact Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at (702) 828-3475 for current instructions to obtain a SCOPE and fee information.
If the criminal charges resulted in a conviction, the petitioner must also obtain a “judgment of conviction and discharge.” The petitioner can obtain discharge papers from the District Court Clerk at 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89155 from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. But call the Clerk’s office at 702-671-4554 to confirm operating hours before going there in person.
Read the SCOPE to determine which court within the Clark County judicial system to petition:
- If all of the charges on the SCOPE are in only one court — such as Henderson Justice Court — then the petitioner would file the record seal petition in that court.
- If the SCOPE shows charges in more than one court — such as Laughlin Justice Court and Las Vegas Justice Court — then the petitioner would file the record seal petition in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County.
Petitioners who are having trouble determining which court to petition can consult an attorney and/or follow the guidelines at the Clark County District Attorney’s Record Sealing website.
Compose a petition, affidavit, and order. Document templates are available for download at the Clark County District Attorney’s Record Sealing website:
- District Court sample petition, affidavit, and order
- Justice Court sample petition, affidavit, and order
These documents must be typed, not handwritten. Fill in the following information:
- All of the petitioner’s arrests
- The police agency or agencies that arrested the petitioner
- The date of the arrest(s)
- The criminal charge(s)
- The final disposition of each arrest (conviction, acquittal, or dismissal).
If the SCOPE (from step 1) does not include a final disposition, the petitioner must obtain documentation of the final disposition from either the law enforcement agency that arrested the petitioner or the court where the arrest was filed.
The petition and order must also list all the agencies that have copies of the petitioner’s criminal record, such as the Nevada Department of Public Safety Records Bureau, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and the Clark County District Attorney.
Finally, sign and date the petition, affidavit, and order. Then make three (3) copies of each document.
(Refer to the Clark County District Attorney Record Sealing Instructions to double-check the procedures.)
Mail (or drop off) all the 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 (SCOPE)
- the judgment of conviction and discharge (if applicable)
- the original petition, affidavit, and order, plus the three (3) copies of each
It will take several weeks for the Clark County District Attorney’s office to review the petition. They will keep one copy of everything, and they will eventually mail back the originals and excess copies.
If the D.A. signs the order to seal:
If the D.A.’s office mails back a signed order to seal, take all the paperwork to the court clerk. The court clerk will pass the paperwork to the judge. The judge will probably agree to sign the order to seal because the prosecutor already signed off on it.
After the judge signs the order to seal, the forms will be returned to the petitioner. Then the petitioner is responsible for distributing signed copies of the order to all the agencies that have copies of the petitioner’s criminal records. These agencies are then obligated to remove the criminal record from their databases.
If the D.A. does not sign the order to seal:
If the D.A.’s office does not sign the order to seal, they will mail the petitioner a short explanation as to why.
If it is just because the petitioner neglected to fill out the forms correctly, the petitioner can fix the problem and resend the corrected paperwork to them immediately.
But if the D.A. indicates that the petitioner is ineligible for a seal, the petitioner may try to bypass the District Attorney’s office and ask for a judicial hearing to argue for a seal. It is highly recommended that petitioners hire a criminal defense attorney to appear for them at a record seal hearing because it is difficult to win without the D.A.’s approval.1
1.2. Other Nevada courts
The record seal procedure is specific to every Nevada court. It typically involves (1) obtaining criminal records, (2) submitting a petition to seal to the prosecutor and a judge, and (3) mailing the order to seal to various government agencies.
In general, the court that presided over the criminal case is the one that may seal the record. For example, a person who gets a trespass conviction in Henderson Municipal Court would petition the Henderson Municipal Court for a record seal.
Some Nevada courts have posted online their record seal instruction manuals:
- Las Vegas Municipal Court record seals
- Henderson Municipal Court record seals
- Mesquite Municipal Court record seals
- Washoe County (Second Judicial) District Court record seals
- Reno Municipal Court record seals
- Douglas County (Ninth Judicial) District Court record seals
If the petitioner has criminal cases in multiple courts, the petitioner may be able to submit just one record seal petition. For example, a person with criminal cases in both Reno Municipal Court and Reno Justice Court can file just one record seal petition in the Second Judicial District Court, which has jurisdiction over both those lower courts.
1.3. Juvenile courts
Nevada juvenile records are sealed automatically when juveniles turn twenty-one (21) if they:
- Have not been convicted of a crime that would have been a felony had an adult committed it, and
- Have not been convicted of any other crime involving violence or lewdness with a minor.
Otherwise, adults may try to petition the court to seal their Nevada juvenile criminal records 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 crimes involving moral turpitude, AND
- The person has been rehabilitated.
1.4. Federal cases
Federal law permits record expungements (which is similar to sealing) for first-time drug offenders convicted of simple drug possession while under age 21. Federal court is extremely formal, so defendants are encouraged to hire an experienced Las Vegas federal court defense attorney to compose and file the petition to seal records.
For any other offense, 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.3
When a person becomes eligible for a record seal depends on the case, and some offenses may never be sealed. (Scroll down to section 3 for a list of unsealable crimes.)
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 afterward.4
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
In short, Nevada law requires no waiting period to get matters sealed when there was no conviction.
However, note that the record seal process itself takes several weeks. So, for example, if a defendant gets her case dismissed in January and filed a seal petition right away, the arrest will probably remain on her record until April or longer.5
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 longer the wait.
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.
|Nevada misdemeanor conviction||Record sealing waiting period|
|DUI and battery domestic violence||7 years after the case closes|
|Battery, harassment, stalking, and violation of a protection order||2 years after the case closes|
|All gross misdemeanors||2 years after the case closes|
|All other misdemeanors||1 year after the case closes7|
|Nevada felony conviction||Record sealing waiting period|
|Category E felonies||2 years after the case closes|
|Non-violent category D, C, and B felonies||5 years after the case closes|
|Crimes of violence, burglary of a residence, and category A felonies||10 years after the case closes8|
Note that people who completed a program for reentry through the Nevada Department of Corrections may be eligible for a record seal usually after four (4) years.9
Also, note that people who have been honorably discharged from probation have an easier time achieving a record seal than people who were dishonorably discharged. There is a “rebuttable presumption” that criminal records should be sealed for honorably discharged petitioners. Dishonorably discharged probationers do not have this same advantage when petitioning for a record seal.10
2.3. Charges that were denied
Sometimes people get arrested or cited for a crime, and then the D.A. chooses not to bring charges. Unfortunately, charges that were “denied” by the D.A. may not always be sealed right away. Instead, denied charges may be sealed when:
- any time after the applicable statute of limitations has run (see NRS 171),
- any time 8 years after the arrest, or
- pursuant to a stipulation between the D.A. and the petitioner
2.4. Decriminalized crimes
People convicted of charges that are no longer crimes can immediately petition the court to seal their records. A common example is possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, which used to be illegal but is now legal in many circumstances. (See Nevada’s “Second Chance Act,” Assembly Bill 192 (2019)).
Convictions for 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)
- Invasion of the home with a deadly weapon pursuant to NRS 205.06711
3.1 Crimes against children (under 18)
Convictions of the following crimes against children can never be sealed in Nevada:
- 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
Convictions of any attempts to commit the above offenses are also unsealable.
3.2 Sex crimes
Convictions of the following sex crimes can never be sealed in Nevada:
- 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
- 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 crimes13
Convictions of any attempts to commit the above offenses are also unsealable.
3.3 Felony DUI
Convictions for the following DUI offenses can never be sealed in Nevada:
Note that a person charged with an unsealable offense that then gets dismissed may pursue a record seal petition right away. Any Nevada charge that does not result in a conviction is always eligible for immediate sealing, no matter how serious the charge.14
Also see our article, How long does a DUI stay on your record in Nevada?
3.4. Invasion of the home with a deadly weapon pursuant to NRS 205.067
Invasion of the home is when a person forcibly enters a dwelling without permission of the lawful occupant or owner. It does not matter whether there are people physically present in the dwelling at the time of the alleged intrusion.
If the defendant used a deadly weapon, a conviction cannot be sealed.
Learn more about invasion of the home (NRS 205.067).
Costs depend on the court presiding over the record seal. In Las Vegas Justice Court, defendants who attempt to seal their records without an attorney can expect to pay about $150. The breakdown of fees is as follows:
|Nevada record sealing task||Estimated Costs(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)|
The record seal process takes a few weeks to a few months depending on the case. There are three reasons for the long wait:
- If the petitioner has a complicated case, it may take the defense attorney time to thoroughly research the matter in order to compose an accurate petition to seal;
- The D.A.’s office may take several weeks to review the petition to seal;
- The Nevada Criminal History Repository in Carson City is very backlogged, and it takes them months to comply with a court’s order to seal. Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite this process.
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.15
People convicted of sealable offenses are encouraged to seek a record seal as soon as they are eligible for one. That way if they later get convicted of an unsealable offense, then at least their previous convictions would have already been sealed.
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 his/her record.16
Note that courts can always choose to deny a record seal petition even if the person is eligible and the D.A. signs off on it. The sealing of criminal records is a matter of discretion with the court. But in practice, 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.
Usually not. Therefore, people with sealed records face less discrimination in every aspect of their lives:
- Employers are more willing to offer a job,
- Creditors are more willing to grant loans,
- Landlords are more willing to lease property, and
- Prospective dating partners are more willing to consider having a relationship.
A criminal record is often a barrier to employment, even if the job applicant is otherwise qualified for the job. But getting a record seal levels the playing field, and the applicant will have a much better chance at landing a coveted job.
However, state licensing boards may still be able to see sealed records if they run a fingerprint check through the FBI. And the Nevada Gaming Commission and the Nevada Gaming Control Board are allowed to see work permit applicants’ sealed criminal records if they are related to gaming. People with sealed records who are applying for a professional license are advised to consult with an attorney about their options.17
Learn more in our article about disclosing criminal history on job applications in Nevada.
In most cases, yes. Once a record is sealed, the person can legally deny having a record–even under oath.
Most employers are allowed to ask about a job applicant’s criminal history and can conduct a background check. And they may use past convictions against applicants in hiring or promotion decisions. But if the record gets sealed, the background check will turn up empty. And the applicant can legally deny ever having had a record if asked.
But as discussed above, there are certain situations where a person may to reveal a criminal record even if it has been sealed. An example is applying for certain professional licenses. So it is best for people in these situations to consult their options with an attorney.18
No. A Nevada pardon is the only vehicle that can possibly reinstate a person’s gun rights. People who lost their firearm rights because of a felony or battery domestic violence conviction cannot regain their gun rights through a record seal.19
Pardons are a government-issued “forgiveness” of a person’s past crime. Pardons do not hide the criminal record from public view and government databases like sealing does.
Note that pardons are another way of reinstating the right to vote and serve on a jury. Learn more about how to get a Nevada pardon.
Yes. Getting a Nevada record seal restores the following civil rights (if they have not been restored already):
- Serving on a jury, and
- Holding office20
Getting a record seal cannot prevent an alien from being deported. ICE may access non-citizens’ criminal records whether they have been sealed or not. However, there are various immigration post-conviction relief measures that might stop removal proceedings:
12.1. Motion to withdraw a plea
Aliens who pleaded guilty or no contest to a deportable offense may be able to withdraw the plea. If the judge agrees, then the immigrant’s defense attorney can try to persuade the D.A. to reduce the charge to a dismissal or non-deportable offense.
Possible grounds for motions to withdraw a plea include:
- Ineffective assistance of counsel,
- Ineffective assistance of translator,
- The plea was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently,
- The alien was not informed that probation may be unavailable21
12.2. Motion for a new trial
Aliens who were found guilty at trial may be able to get the verdict vacated and have a brand new trial. This would then give the immigrant’s defense attorney the opportunity to try to plea bargain the charge down to a dismissal or a non-deportable offense.
Possible grounds for a motion for a new trial include:
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
- Insufficient, new, wrongly admitted, or conflicting evidence
- Judicial error
- Prosecutorial or jury misconduct
- Loss of trial transcripts or records
Aliens who were found guilty at trial can always appeal their case to a higher court. For instance, a conviction in the Eighth Judicial District Court can be appealed to the Nevada Court of Appeals, the Nevada Supreme Court, and (in limited circumstances) the U.S. Supreme Court.
If a guilty verdict in lower court gets overturned in the higher court, then the immigrant may no longer be deportable. Learn more about Nevada criminal appeals.23
12.4. Writ of Habeas Corpus
A last-resort measure, a writ of habeas corpus argues against the legality of keeping a defendant in custody. If the court grants a writ of habeas corpus, then the person can no longer be held in custody for the reason that originally landed him/her in prison.
There are nine main grounds to justify habeas corpus relief:
- The court overstepped its jurisdiction.
- The imprisonment is no longer lawful.
- The case is procedurally defective.
- The case is substantively defective.
- The wrong person was imprisoned.
- There was no judgment or court order authorizing the defendant’s imprisonment.
- The defendant was indicted without probable cause.
- The defendant was indicted pursuant to an unconstitutional law.
- The defendant’s constitutional rights were violated.24
12.5. Federal motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence
Immigrants in custody for a federal criminal conviction can try to file a “2255 motion” a.k.a. a “motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence.” If the court grants this motion, the immigrant may be able to avoid deportation. Common grounds for a 2255 motion include:
- There was ineffective assistance of counsel.
- The defendant was deprived of due process.
- The sentence was unconstitutional or longer than the legal maximum.
- The prosecutors committed misconduct.
- The court lacked jurisdiction.25
Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.
Very rarely. Once a person’s criminal record is sealed, some prosecutors and agencies may still view it but 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.26
Sealing a criminal record makes it invisible. The record still exists, but most people can never find it.
The meaning of “expunging” varies by state. In California, for example, an expungement updates a criminal record to indicate that probation is done and the case is dismissed.
Some states such as California offer record expungments, but Nevada does not.27
Practically speaking, there is little difference between sealing and expunging. They both prevent (most) potential employers and the general public from finding a person’s criminal record.
¿Habla español? Más información sobre sellado de antecedentes penales en Nevada.
To learn about California expungements, go to our article on California expungements.
To learn about Colorado record seals, go to our article on Colorado record seals.
- Clark County District Attorney Record Sealing Instructions.
- NRS 62H.130.
- 18 USC 3607(c)
- NRS 179.245
- NRS 179.255.
- NRS AB 327 (2017).
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.259.
- NRS AB 243 (2017).
- NRS 179.245
- NRS 179D.0357.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.245
- NRS 179.265.
- NRS 179.301.
- NRS 179.285.
- Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners; NRS 213
- NRS 179.285.
- See NRS 176.165.
- See NRS 176.515.
- See NRS 177.
- See NRS 34.360.
- See 28 USC 2255.
- NRS 179.295
- California Penal Code 1203.4