Individuals in Nebraska may encounter difficulties in various aspects of life due to having a criminal record. However, there are mechanisms available to potentially seal or expunge a person’s criminal record. The available clean slate processes in Nebraska include adult record sealing, juvenile record sealing, criminal conviction set-asides, pardons, and expungements.

Nebraska Criminal Record Sealing and Expungement Attorneys

At Liberty Law Group, our attorneys are skilled, comprehensive and precise with the procedures and processes necessary to clear a person’s criminal record successfully. Despite the complexity involved with determining the correct procedures and filing the proper documents, our firm has handled numerous record sealing and expungement cases across Nebraska and Iowa, including set-asides and pardons. If you are in need of legal solutions for completing a record sealing case or expungemnet, call our firm today at (402) 865-0501 so we can determine your eligibility and start the process. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Pappillion, across Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Saunders, Cass, and surrounding counties of Nebraska. We also represent people in Council Bluffs, Pattawattamie County, Iowa and surrounding areas.

Below, Liberty Law Group explains what each of these options are, including who is eligible, what the process looks like, and how a Nebraska expungement lawyer can provide meaningful assistance to individuals looking to clear their criminal record.

Criminal Record Sealing and Expungemet Information Center

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What Methods of Criminal Record Clearing is Available in Nebraska?

Sealing a record effectively removes information about the arrest and conviction from public access. Adult record sealing in Nebraska might be an option based on how the individual’s case was resolved. Eligibility for sealing includes situations where charges were dismissed, resulted in acquittal, or following a pardon. It is also applicable to victims of human trafficking.

Juvenile records pertain to offenses committed by individuals under 18 years of age. These records are usually sealed automatically once the case concludes. However, if the record isn’t sealed automatically, an individual must take additional steps to request the court for sealing. Like adult record sealing, this process also removes arrest and conviction details from public records.

Set-asides in Nebraska are orders from the sentencing courts that effectively void convictions. It is important to note that a set-aside does not erase the conviction; however, it does nullify the prior conviction and reinstates certain civil rights.

Pardons in Nebraska can be granted by the Board of Pardons or, in specific cases, by city mayors. A pardon from the Board of Pardons can restore rights, including gun rights, lost due to a felony conviction. This is the only option for those whose convictions resulted in imprisonment exceeding one year. Post-pardon, the record becomes eligible for sealing. For state offense convictions, pardons must be obtained from the Board of Pardons. Conversely, mayoral pardons apply only to those convicted under municipal codes, offering benefits similar to a set-aside.

Expungement completely removes an arrest from an individual’s record, essentially treating it as if it never occurred. This option is quite limited and requires clear and convincing evidence that the arrest resulted from a law enforcement error. The process involves filing a petition in the district court where the arrest took place, with the county attorney having the ability to contest the petition.

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Adult Record Sealing in Nebraska

In Nebraska, the option to seal a criminal record is available under certain conditions, based on the charges and convictions a person has faced. Sealing a criminal record has significant effects. It means that the record is not accessible to the general public, and all related information must remain confidential. Importantly, individuals with sealed records are not required to disclose their existence and can respond to public inquiries as if the record does not exist.

Visibility of a Sealed Record

Even after a record is sealed, there are specific circumstances where it can still be accessed. These include instances where the individual who owns the record requests its release or grants permission for someone else to view it. Additionally, criminal justice agencies, such as police departments, sheriff’s offices, and city or county attorney offices, the ability to access these records.

Eligibility for Record Sealing

To be eligible for record sealing in Nebraska, a person’s charges must fall into one of three categories. First, conviction-less charges, where charges were filed but either dismissed, resulted in an acquittal, or the individual was found not guilty. Notably, cases resulting in dismissals or acquittals are automatically sealed. Second, survivors of sex trafficking with convictions related to their victimization may request record sealing following the setting aside of their conviction. Third, individuals with pardoned convictions are also eligible to request their record to be sealed.

Preparing for and Attending the Court Hearing

To file a request for record sealing, an individual must submit a Motion to Seal an Adult Criminal Record in the court where the original case was heard. The hearing is not an opportunity to argue the original conviction or charges but solely to request the record be sealed. The prosecutor has an opportunity to object to the request. Following the hearing, obtaining a copy of the order is important, as the record will be sealed and inaccessible unless a request to release sealed records is filed.

How a Lawyer Helps in Adult Record Sealing

In Nebraska, an attorney can assist an individual in handling the process of adult record sealing. An attorney’s role includes determining the client’s eligibility for record sealing, guiding them through the legal procedures, and representing them during the court hearing. The attorney ensures that any legal documents are adequately prepared and filed, and any objections from the prosecutor are addressed.

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Juvenile Record Sealing in Nebraska

According to Nebraska Revised Statutes §42-3,108 and §43-246, juvenile record sealing involves the process by which records related to law enforcement contact, criminal court, and juvenile court involvement are made inaccessible to the public. In Nebraska, this sealing happens automatically for individuals who were under 18 at the time of the incident, under specific conditions.

When a juvenile record is sealed, it becomes a private matter, essentially treated as if the incidents it records never occurred. This confidentiality allows individuals to not disclose their sealed records in public inquiries, including job applications, license acquisitions, or college applications. However, under certain circumstances, law enforcement agencies, judges, and probation officers can access these sealed records.

Required Process for Sealing Juvenile Records

To proceed with sealing a record, whether automatically or by request, one needs personal information like name, contact details, and address. Additionally, specific details about the case, such as the case number, offense details, charges, and sentence completion status, are necessary. If this information is not readily available, it can be obtained through the Nebraska State Patrol or court records.

The process for filing a request for record sealing also varies depending on whether the records qualify for automatic sealing or require a court motion. In both scenarios, specific steps and documentation are required, including filling out forms and potentially attending a court hearing. If a court hearing is necessary, the individual must be ready to explain why they seek record sealing and provide relevant personal and case-related information. It’s important for individuals to focus on the request to seal the record, rather than arguing aspects of the original case.

After the hearing, it’s crucial to obtain a copy of the court order and allow time for the record to be officially sealed in the court system.

Eligibility for Automatic Record Sealing

Records eligible for automatic sealing include cases where no charges were filed, charges were dismissed, or the individual successfully completed a diversion or rehabilitation program. If the record meets these criteria but remains public, the affected individual can contact the court or county attorney for sealing.

Sealing Records by Request

In cases where automatic sealing doesn’t apply, individuals, or their guardians, can request record sealing. This request can be made upon reaching the age of majority or after six months from case closure. The court evaluates these requests based on the individual’s behavior, education, and employment history, among other factors, to determine if sufficient rehabilitation has occurred.

Involving A Lawyer

Attorneys play a major role in the juvenile record sealing process in Nebraska, especially in cases where automatic sealing does not occur. They help verify the eligibility for sealing and guide the individual or their guardians through the process of requesting the court to seal the records. This involves preparing and filing the necessary documents, and possibly representing the client in a court hearing. The attorney also advises on the implications of the sealed record, including the extent to which it remains accessible to certain authorities and the rights of the individual regarding non-disclosure of their sealed records.

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Set-Aside of a Criminal Conviction in Nebraska

A set-aside of a criminal conviction refers to a legal procedure where a judge cancels or annuls a previous criminal conviction. This process doesn’t erase the conviction from the individual’s criminal history but adds a legal document indicating the conviction has been set aside. This distinction is important for background checks, as it will show both the conviction and its subsequent set-aside.

Beginning the Set-Aside Process

The process of setting aside a conviction is solely at the judge’s discretion, determined by the benefit it provides to the individual balanced with the public’s interest in being able to know of the conviction. Set-asides can be applied to various conviction types, such as infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Each conviction type requires a separate petition, and approval for one does not guarantee approval for others.

Criteria for Eligibility

Eligibility for a set-aside depends on specific conditions identified in Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2264. These include completing probation, community service, serving a jail sentence, or paying off fines. Certain individuals are automatically disqualified, such as those with pending criminal charges, registered sex offenders, those convicted of specific motor vehicle offenses, or those with a recent unsuccessful set-aside petition.

Judge’s Role in Evaluating a Set-Aside Petition

The judge has the ultimate authority in granting a set-aside. Factors influencing this decision include the individual’s behavior since the conviction, time elapsed since the offense, efforts towards rehabilitation, likelihood of abiding by the law, and the alignment of the set-aside with the person’s and public’s interests.

Preparing to File a Set-Aside Petition

When preparing to file a set-aside petition, detailed personal information and specifics about the case are required. This includes the individual’s full name, contact details, the case number, details of the sentence, and the conviction’s outcome. This information can be sourced from the Nebraska State Patrol, through a court case search, or at a courthouse.

The set-aside process involves completing the appropriate petition and order forms, then filing them in the court where the original case was heard, following local court rules. A hearing will be scheduled, where the individual will need to discuss their conviction, address objections from the prosecution, and then await the judge’s decision.

If the set-aside is granted, the conviction is considered nullified but does not automatically restore all civil rights. In cases involving lost rights due to felony or domestic violence misdemeanor convictions, a pardon is required to regain these rights. Keeping a copy of the signed order is important for future reference, particularly when dealing with potential employers or landlords.

A Lawyer Helps With The Set-Aside Process

When it comes to setting aside a criminal conviction in Nebraska, a lawyer is helpful in preparing and filing a set-aside petition. The attorney evaluates the client’s eligibility for setting a conviction aside, helps gather necessary information and documents, and represents the client in court. They ensure the client’s case for a set-aside is presented well, focusing on rehabilitation efforts and the benefit to the client.

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Pardons in Nebraska

In Nebraska, one of the main ways to obtain a pardon is through the Nebraska Board of Pardons. This Board holds the authority to grant pardons for any type of conviction. Importantly, a pardon from the Board of Pardons is the only means to restore gun rights that might have been removed due to a conviction. The Board has the discretion to grant a pardon with or without restoring gun rights, depending on the individual case. Another way to secure a pardon is through a mayoral pardon, which applies to violations of the city code in Lincoln or Omaha. This type of pardon is limited to offenses occurring within these cities. It is noteworthy that once a conviction is pardoned, it becomes eligible to be sealed, offering an additional layer of relief and privacy.

Eligibility and Application Requirements for Board of Pardons

To apply for a pardon through the Nebraska Board of Pardons, several requirements must be met. These include a completed application, reference letters, court documents, and a waiting period of 10 years for felony convictions and 3 years for misdemeanors. During this waiting period, any contact with law enforcement or additional convictions can reset the clock. The Board also requires evidence of rehabilitation and remorse but does not entertain cases involving traffic violations, driving under the influence, or driving under suspension. It’s important to understand that a pardon does not imply innocence but is an acknowledgment of reform.

Detailed Information Required for the Application

The application process is thorough and requires detailed personal information, including full name, contact details, family information, education, and employment history. Additionally, comprehensive details about the crime and court case are necessary. If an individual lacks copies of their court records, they can be obtained from the Nebraska State Patrol or the courthouse.

Conveying Rehabilitation and Remorse to the Board

The Board of Pardons places significant emphasis on the applicant’s efforts towards rehabilitation and remorse. Examples of positive changes include participation in support groups, counseling, religious involvement, maintaining sobriety, and positive lifestyle changes. These efforts demonstrate to the Board a commitment to a future free from crime, drugs, alcohol, and violence.

Application to Hearing

The process begins with obtaining and completing the necessary forms from the Nebraska Board of Pardons website. This includes submitting reference letters, required court documents, and optional documents that might support the individual’s case. After filing the request, the next step is to attend a hearing before the Board, where the person will have the opportunity to testify and make their case for a pardon. This hearing is not a platform to dispute their original conviction but to present their case for pardon based on rehabilitation. The Board may ask clarifying questions and will ultimately vote on the individual’s application. If granted, the pardon may come with certain conditions and may or may not include the restoration of gun rights.

Role of Legal Representation in Pardons

Attorneys help in preparing the comprehensive application required by the Nebraska Board of Pardons, including gathering necessary personal details, court documents, and evidence of rehabilitation and remorse. The lawyer represents the client during the hearing before the Board, helping articulate the reasons for seeking a pardon and addressing any questions posed by the Board.

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Expungement of Criminal Records in Nebraska

Expungement in Nebraska, according to Nebraska Revised Statute §29-3523, means that certain criminal records can be removed from public view. This can happen after a set period or if the court agrees to it. Once a record is expunged, it’s like the criminal history doesn’t exist for the public and most non-police organizations. There are a few exceptions, like if the person is still facing charges or is a politician.

This process is available if charges were never filed, if someone completed a diversion program, or if their case was dismissed, among other situations. Victims of sex trafficking and people who have been pardoned can also ask for expungement. When the court agrees, it orders that these records be hidden from the public and tells the relevant agencies to seal them.

After expungement, a person doesn’t have to mention the offense in job applications or other similar situations. If they’re asked, they can answer as if the crime never happened. There’s also a way for people wrongly arrested due to a police mistake to get their records expunged. The rules apply to everyone eligible, no matter when their legal issues happened.

Also, according to Nebraska Revised Statute §29-4109, if someone in Nebraska has their DNA in the state’s DNA Database because of a conviction, they can ask to have it removed if that conviction is overturned and the case is dismissed. When they request this expungement in writing and provide a court order that reverses their conviction, the Nebraska State Patrol has to delete their DNA information from the database and destroy their DNA samples.

After the expungement is approved, the Nebraska State Patrol must tell anyone who received the DNA information or samples within ten days. They also need to set up a way to inform the person whose DNA was expunged that the process is complete.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does sealing a criminal record in Nebraska work? Sealing a record in Nebraska removes information about the arrest and conviction from public access. It’s available for dismissed charges, acquittals, pardons, and human trafficking victims. Sealed records need not be disclosed and appear as if they don’t exist to the public.
  • How does a set-aside differ from expungement? A set-aside in Nebraska voids a conviction without erasing it, reinstating certain civil rights. It differs from expungement, which completely removes an arrest as if it never occurred. Set-asides show both conviction and its nullification on records.
  • What are the benefits of having a criminal record sealed in Nebraska? Sealing a criminal record in Nebraska ensures it’s inaccessible to the general public, maintaining confidentiality. Individuals with sealed records can legally deny their existence in public inquiries, aiding in employment, housing, and other social opportunities.
  • Who can access a sealed criminal record in Nebraska? Sealed records in Nebraska can be accessed by the individual who owns the record, criminal justice agencies, and under specific circumstances where the individual grants permission for someone else to view it.
  • How does the set-aside process work in Nebraska? The set-aside process involves filing a petition for each conviction type, with the judge evaluating based on rehabilitation efforts, time elapsed since the offense, and public interest. Eligibility depends on completing sentences, probation, and having no pending charges.
  • Can I represent myself? Yes, but it is not recommended. Individuals representing themselves in the process of record sealing or other avenues in Nebraska bear the responsibility for all the steps involved. This includes ensuring the accuracy of all provided information and understanding that the court cannot offer legal advice or assist in completing forms. An attorney can be invaluable in helping an individual understand if they are eligible and can guide the individual through each step of the process.

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    Additional Resources

    Article on Petition to Set Aside a Criminal Conviction: The article explains that an adult’s criminal conviction is not able to be erased. It can be set-aside or pardoned; however, it remains on the person’s record. Explains differences between a pardon and conviction set-aside. Discusses eligibility requirements for a set aside and notes that local rules may apply that can vary by county or district where the sentence was imposed.

    Article on Criminal Record Rehabilitation: This article reviews several ways you might be able to “repair your criminal record” to improve the record from the view of landlords and others. Also contains links to information on sealing records for adults or juveniles, judgment set asides, and pardons. Briefly discusses expungement while noting that it is extremely rare in Nebraska.

    Legal Aid’s Clean Slate Project: This source offers information and assistance in the process of having convictions set aside or pardoned, as well as criminal charges that have been dismissed being sealed. Also explains that the organization provides information, referrals, advice, self-help services, and limited assistance and representation for qualifying low-income people.

    University of Nebraska student legal services: This article briefly discusses the process of getting a criminal record expunged or erased. Provides links to Nebraska law on the process of setting aside a criminal conviction and correcting records of criminal arrest and charges.

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    Hiring a Law Firm to Clear Criminal Records in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

    At Liberty Law Group, our team knows the detailed processes for sealing and expunging criminal records for people in Nebraska and Iowa. Our clients count on us to provide a comprehensive solution for a complex process. If you are in need of a criminal record expungement or would like to confirm your eligibility for having your criminal record or arrest record cleared, contact our office at (402) 865-0501 to discuss your case with one of our attorneys.

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