Restoration of Rights Project: State-specific guides to restoration of rights, pardon, expungement, sealing & certificates of relief

Federal

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote depends on state law for both state and federal offenders.  Federal jury eligibility is lost upon conviction in state or federal court of a crime punishable by more than one year if a person’s “civil rights have not been restored.”  The Constitution does not prevent individuals from holding federal office after conviction of any crime.  Most states that do not restore the right to vote automatically give federal offenders access to their restoration procedures.  Jury eligibility is only restored upon an affirmative act, such as pardon or expungement.

Firearms rights:  Persons with convictions in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year are subject to the prohibition on possession of firearms under federal law, as are persons convicted of domestic violence offenses; restoration by presidential pardon only for federal offenders; restoration for state offenders under 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(20) & (33) (defining triggering offense) or 18 U.S.C. § 925 (ATF relief).  (Section 925 has not been funded since 1990.)

Pardon policy & practice:  President decides; no reporting or notice requirement.  Eligibility five years after sentence or release from confinement.  No public hearing, paper record review, unlimited time.  Relieves all legal disabilities but does not expunge.  Pardons infrequent and irregular since 1990.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  No federal expungement, except where arrest or conviction invalid or subject to clerical error.  Deferred adjudication and expungement for first misdemeanor drug possession if under age 21 at time of offense.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Only limitation found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, barring employment discrimination on grounds of race, national origin, gender, etc.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Alabama

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any “felony involving moral turpitude,” defined for purposes of voting as 47 enumerated offenses. Vote restored by Board of Pardons and Parole by expedited administrative process upon completion of sentence, or by pardon for violent and sex offenses; jury and office eligibility restored only by pardon.  Federal and out-of-state offenders are eligible to apply for restoration of rights. 

Firearms rights: Handgun rights lost upon conviction of “crime of violence;” restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice: Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power except in capital cases; board must make annual report to governor.  Eligibility upon completion of sentence.   Application a simple form filed with local probation office that is “intended to facilitate application by individuals who lack formal education.”  Federal and out-of-state offenders may apply.  Public hearing required, with reasons given; separate paper procedure for restoration of rights.  Pardon process takes about one year.  500 full pardons each year, plus more than 2000 rights restorations.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  No authority to expunge or seal adult convictions.  Records of most delinquency adjudications sealed two years after final discharge.

Expungement of non-conviction records of non-violent felony and misdemeanor charges, including cases where charges were dismissed after successful completion of a drug court program, mental health court program, diversion program or veteran’s court program.  There is an administrative fee of $300, and if the prosecutor or victim object a hearing shall be held.   Proceedings expunged “shall be deemed never to have occurred,” except that they must be disclosed to any government regulatory or licensing agency, any utility and its agents and affiliates, or any bank or other financial institution.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction, though a direct relationship test is applied to some licenses.

 Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

 Alaska

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Right to vote and serve on jury lost upon conviction of any felony, and restored upon completion of sentence.  Any bar to office linked to voting right also removed.

Firearms rights:  A felony offender may not possess a concealable weapon for 10 years following discharge (rights lost permanently if offense is one against the person), unless conviction set aside or pardoned.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides; must consult parole board, but board’s advice not binding.  No public hearing; parole board staff investigates, consults with DA and court, and prepares confidential recommendation to governor.  Only three pardons since 1995.  The clemency program has been “under review” and not functioning since 2009.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  No provision for expungement of adult convictions.  Most juvenile records sealed within 30 days of 18th birthday, or five years after completion of sentence if charged as an adult.

Deferred sentencing and set-aside for certain offenses does not include expungement, but a 2016 law prohibits the state from publishing online the records of such cases.  Non-conviction records are generally unavailable to the public without the consent of the subject of the record.  However, no sealing of non-conviction records unless mistaken identity or false accusation proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction.  Direct relationship test applied in disciplinary action for medical and nursing licensees.

 Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Arizona

Loss & restoration of civil rights: All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  Civil rights restored automatically for first-time offenders upon completion of sentence; those convicted of two or more felonies may regain rights only through judicial set-aside or pardon.  Federal offenders are eligible for relief, but those convicted in other states are not.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; may be restored by court on sliding timetable depending on seriousness of offense.  First offenders eligible upon release from probation, or two years after release from prison.  Those convicted of “serious” offenses must wait ten years.   Those convicted of “dangerous” offenses may regain rights only through pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides but may not act without affirmative recommendation of clemency board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature.  Public hearing; publication of board recommendation to governor, with reasons.  Pardon relieves legal consequences of conviction, but conviction must still be reported.  Pardons increasingly rare since 1990; Gov. Brewer issued 12 pardons in her six years in office, all in her last month in office.  Governor Doug Ducey has issued no pardons to date.

Judicial expungement & sealing: “Set-aside” available from the sentencing court to state offenders upon discharge for all but violent and sex offenses; relieves collateral consequences, but conviction must be disclosed and serves as predicate offense.  Juvenile adjudications may be set aside upon reaching 18 years of age and discharge from sentence, except for serious violent offenses; remain predicate offense.

Non-conviction records may not be sealed or expunged, but may be amended to note that a person has been cleared of any arrests or indictments that did not lead to conviction.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  A person may not be disqualified from public employment “solely because of a prior conviction for a felony or misdemeanor,” nor may a person “whose civil rights have been restored” be disqualified from an occupation for which a license is required “solely because of” a prior conviction.  Disqualification from public employment or licensure only if “the offense has a reasonable relationship to the functions of the employment or occupation for which the license, permit or certificate is sought.”

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Arkansas

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony; office eligibility lost upon any malfeasance in office.  Vote restored by completion of sentence; jury eligibility restored by pardon; office eligibility restored by expungement.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon any felony conviction; restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides, but must consult parole board, whose recommendation is not binding; governor must report to legislature on all grants, with reasons.  Board and governor must each give 30 days’ public notice of intention to recommend or grant, respectively, with reasons.  Relieves legal disabilities and is grounds for automatic expungement; pardoned conviction may not serve as predicate or to enhance.  Firearms rights must be restored separately.  Pardons issued regularly, about 100 each year.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Minor felonies and drug convictions eligible for sealing after five years; misdemeanors and certain drug convictions after completion of sentence (presumption in favor of sealing); prostitution convictions as a result of being a victim of human trafficking eligible for sealing at any time (mandatory if found to be human trafficking victim).  Serious violent and sexual offenses ineligible, as are motor vehicle violations committed by holder of a commercial driver’s license. Deferred adjudication for first-time offenders may result in sealing (serious violent offenses and certain sex offenses ineligible).

Non-conviction records, including cases where charges have been dismissed, “shall” be sealed by sentencing court unless there is a public safety risk.

Expungement available in only two situations:  where non-violent felony committed before the age of 18, and after completion of drug court.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Conviction may be considered but may not bar licensing; five years following completion of sentence is “prima facie evidence of rehabilitation.”  Reasons for denial of license must be given in writing.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

California

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, not including those serving felony sentences in county jail; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony or malfeasance in office; office eligibility lost upon any malfeasance in office.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence, including parole; jury and office eligibility restored by pardon.

Firearms rights:  All firearm rights lost upon any felony conviction and misdemeanor involving use of a firearm; restored by pardon except when underlying offense involves use of dangerous weapon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides with optional consultation of parole board; for recidivists, board must be consulted and supreme court justices must recommend.  Judicial Certificate of Rehabilitation, first step in pardon process, available to residents after 10 years.   Pardon restores civil rights and removes occupational bars but does not expunge record; firearms rights restored separately.  Pardons relatively frequent under Governor Brown.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Courts may set aside convictions for probationers, misdemeanants, and minor felony offenders sentenced to county jail, except certain driving restrictions.  Set-aside does not seal record, but restores rights and removes disabilities, and has other employment-related benefits.  Conviction may still be used as predicate offense and must be disclosed in certain contexts. Certain minor felonies may be reduced to misdemeanors and become eligible for set aside, including felonies for which sentencing deferred.

No expungement or sealing of conviction records except for certain under-age misdemeanants and most juvenile adjudications after five years (if found to be rehabilitated and no subsequent convictions of felony or crime of moral turpitude).  Court may, with concurrence of prosecuting attorney, order non-conviction records sealed and destroyed. Eligible juvenile misdemeanor arrest records must be sealed upon request. Non-conviction records may be sealed and destroyed with the concurrence of the prosecuting attorney.

Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) available to state law offenders from court in county of residence after waiting period (generally 10 years) and satisfaction of other statutory criteria.  COR relieves certain licensing restrictions as well as obligation to register as sex offender, an serves as first step in the pardon process.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  General nondiscrimination law bars employers from inquiring into or considering arrests not leading to conviction and convictions that have been set aside or sealed (with some exceptions). Applies Title VII standards.  State licensing board may not deny license solely on basis of conviction that has been set aside and dismissed or for which a COR has been granted, or based on a misdemeanor conviction if the person is deemed rehabilitated. Suspension or revocation of license allowed only if crime is “substantially related” to qualifications.  State-wide ban-the-box law for public employment (no inquiry into conviction history until determined applicant meets minimum employment qualifications). Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act limits reporting by background checking companies.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Colorado

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon any felony conviction if sentenced to a term of imprisonment; jury eligibility not lost; office eligibility lost while incarcerated or on parole following conviction of any felony.  Vote and office eligibility restored upon completion of sentence, including parole.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon felony conviction; restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides with non-statutory advisory scheme; must report pardons to legislature, with reasons.  No eligibility restrictions.  No public hearing; governor must seek views of corrections authorities, DA, and judge.  Pardon restores civil rights and firearms rights.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Sealing of drug conviction records, with eligibility period ranging from three years for petty offenses to ten years for more serious felonies; sealing of petty offenses and violations after 3-year waiting period. Minor drug felonies may be vacated and reduced to misdemeanors, making many of them eligible for sealing.  Mandatory sealing of decriminalized misdemeanor marijuana offenses.

Relief from collateral consequences at sentencing for non-incarceration sentences.

Non-conviction records may be sealed where charges completely dismissed or person acquitted. Deferred sentencing dispositions may also lead to sealing.

Under 2017 scheme, juvenile record expungement mandatory in the case of most petty offenses and misdemeanors, or where no conviction results; expungement discretionary for low-level felonies after eligibility waiting period, which is longer for repeat offenders.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Conviction of felony or other offense involving moral turpitude cannot, by itself, prevent a person from obtaining public employment, or from receiving a license or permit required to pursue any profession or business in the state.  State-wide ban-the-box for public employment, with some exceptions (no background check until applicant is finalist or conditional offer made; non-conviction records cannot be considered). Employers protected from negligent hiring suits.

General Assembly reviews agency licensing and certification processes to determine whether they disqualify applicants based on criminal history and if so whether such disqualification serves public safety or commercial or consumer protection interests.

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Connecticut

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony only if sentenced to a term of imprisonment; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote and office eligibility restored upon completion of sentence, including parole, except that vote remains lost while on probation for election law offense.  Jury eligibility automatically restored seven years after conviction unless person remains incarcerated.

Firearms rights:  Handgun rights lost upon any felony conviction and “serious juvenile offenses;” restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power.  Eligibility five years after completion of sentence for felonies, three years for misdemeanors. Public hearing generally required, with board giving reasons for denial.  Process takes about one year. Relieves all legal disabilities, and is basis for court order “erasing” conviction. Board of Pardons and Parole also offers “provisional” pardons and certificates of rehabilitation/employability, which remove mandatory automatic collateral penalties (e.g., denial of employment or license). Provisional pardons and certificates may be sought any time after sentencing, and are available to individuals with out-of-state and federal convictions. The overall pardon grant rate has increased in recent years, from just under 50% in 2013 to over 60% in 2016.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Several deferred adjudication programs may result in “erasure” of record, with records destroyed after three years. Pardoned offenses erased three years after final disposition of criminal case. After two to four-year waiting period, juvenile offender at least 17 years of age may petition for erasure of police and court records if no subsequent convictions.  Non-conviction records erased.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Public employers and licensing authorities, with limited exceptions, may not disqualify an applicant automatically on the grounds of a prior conviction.  Private employers may not deny employment solely on basis of conviction if provisionally pardoned or granted certificate of rehabilitation. Inquiry into erased convictions prohibited. State-wide ban-the-box in public and private employment, with some exceptions (no inquiry into criminal history on initial application).

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Delaware

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony and certain misdemeanor election law violations; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony; office eligibility lost upon conviction of any “infamous crime” as determined by a court.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence for most felonies, ten years for election law violations, and by pardon only for certain violent felonies. Jury eligibility restored by pardon.  Pardon of limited effect in restoring office eligibility.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction for crimes of violence, drug offenses, and domestic violence crimes; restored only by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides but may not act without affirmative recommendation from clemency board composed of elected officials, chaired by lieutenant governor.  Eligible 3-5 years following completion of sentence.  Public hearings held at regular intervals, board recommendation and reasons announced at hearing.  Process takes about 6 months. Pardon relieves all legal disabilities except constitutional provisions barring someone convicted of “infamous crime” from holding state office.   More than 200 pardons granted annually in recent years, about 75% of filings.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Mandatory expungement upon request of non-conviction records of first-time misdemeanors or violations if no subsequent convictions; mandatory expungement of certain juvenile adjudications. Discretionary expungement for other non-conviction records, cases involving diversion or deferred adjudication (“Probation before Judgment”), pardoned misdemeanors or violations, and juvenile adjudications.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Denial or revocation of professional licenses based upon criminal conviction requires that the crime be “substantially related” to the profession or occupation at issue.  State-wide ban-the-box law for public employment, with certain positions exempt (no inquiry into or consideration of criminal history until conditional offer made).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

District of Columbia

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and office eligibility lost only during incarceration following conviction of any felony and certain misdemeanor election law offenses; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote and office eligibility restored upon release; jury eligibility may be restored one year after completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for five years for drug offenses or crimes involving threats of bodily harm and lost permanently for certain classes of sex offenders, crimes of violence, and weapons offenses.  Restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Only the President can pardon D.C. Code criminal offenses.  Five-year eligibility period (after completion of sentence or release from confinement).  Applications submitted to Justice Department Pardon Attorney, with no time limit on process.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities, signifies good character.  Pardons for D.C. Code offenders rare.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Sealing for selected misdemeanors and felony “failure to appear” offense, after waiting period.  Sealing of juvenile adjudications upon reaching age 18 after a two-year waiting period if no subsequent convictions.  Court authorized to seal non-conviction records after waiting period.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Public and private employers with more than ten employees are prohibited from inquiring into non-conviction records at any time, and prohibited from inquiring into and considering conviction history until after making conditional offer of employment (certain positions exempt). For conviction to form basis of licensure denial, the crime must “bear[] directly upon the fitness” of the person to be licensed.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Florida

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by pardon ten years after completion of sentence or by restoration of rights five years after completion of sentence or seven years for serious offenses.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by pardon after eight-year waiting period.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor and three cabinet officials act as pardon board; governor decides with concurrence of two cabinet officials.  Governor must report pardons and restorations to legislature.  Pardon eligibility begins ten years following completion of sentence; restoration of rights eligibility five to seven years after completion of sentence, depending on seriousness of offense; firearms restoration eight years after completion of sentence.  Public hearing required for pardon, and for restoration of voting rights for some offenders.  Pardons sparingly granted.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement (physical destruction of records) available after 10 years for first offenders granted deferred adjudication (“withholding adjudication of guilt”); for juvenile nonviolent first offender misdemeanants upon successful completion of diversion program; and for victims of human trafficking. Court may order sealing (limited access) and/or expungement of non-conviction records for first offenders with certain exceptions.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  In general, conviction may be basis for disqualification from licensure or public employment only if their crime is one that is “directly related” to the job as determined by each licensing agency.  Bars to employment or licensure in health and related professions may be waived.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Georgia

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony involving moral turpitude.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence; jury eligibility restored by pardon or by restoration of civil rights ten years after completion of sentence if no subsequent conviction; office eligibility restored by pardon or by restoration of civil rights.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  First offenders may apply for license ten years after completion of sentence, five years after deferred adjudication, or otherwise by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power, reporting annually to legislature, governor, and AG.  Eligible five years after completion of sentence.  Paper review with no public hearing; board decides by majority vote and issues written decision.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities except return to public office.  The Board also issues “restoration of civil and political rights” to felony offenders. More than 400 pardons granted each year, with or without firearms restoration.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  No provision for expungement of adult convictions or arrests, but access to certain records may be restricted followed by sealing for first offender drug possesson, youthful offender misdemeanors, “accountability courts,” and non-conviction records.  Deferred adjudication for first offenders leads to “complete exoneration” with all rights restored but no expungement or sealing.  Sealing of juvenile records after two years with finding of rehabilitation.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Felony conviction that does not directly relate to occupation at issue may not be grounds for refusing or revoking license. Ban-the-box law for public employment, by executive order, with certain positions exempt (eliminates criminal record question from application).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Hawaii

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost following felony conviction only while actually incarcerated; jury and office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon release from incarceration; jury eligibility restored upon completion of sentence; office eligibility restored by pardon.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony, drug crime, or crime of violence; restoration by pardon only if express.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board.  No eligibility requirements.  No public hearing; parole board interviews applicant and makes recommendation to attorney general’s office, which conducts an independent investigation and makes its own recommendation to the governor.  Relieves all legal disabilities and prohibitions but does not expunge record.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement after one year for nonviolent first offenders who receive deferred adjudication and for certain first time minor drug offenders.  Juveniles may move court for expungement; records of adjudications are automatically sealed.  Court may expunge non-conviction records.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Discrimination based on conviction barred under state fair employment practices law.  Only crimes committed within 10 years may be considered if there is a rational relationship to job or occupation, with certain exceptions; arrest records may not be considered at all.  Ban-the-box for public and private employment (no inquiry into criminal history until conditional offer made; may consider conviction record within last 10 years but may withdraw offer only if conviction has “rational relationship” to duties).

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Idaho

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  Firearms rights lost only during period of sentence except for certain serious violent crimes, for which restoration is done through application to pardon board five years after completion of sentence.

Pardon policy & practice:  Independent board appointed by governor decides for all but most serious offenses, which must be approved by the governor.  Eligibility begins three years after completion of sentence for non-violent offenses and five years for violent offenses.  Relieves legal disabilities, but does not restore firearms rights. Pardons issued regularly and relatively frequently.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Broad authority to reduce felonies to misdemeanors five years after successful completion of probation (or earlier if prosecutor stipulates to reduction).  Also broad authority in court to defer adjudication and vacate plea but record not expunged or sealed.  Certain sex offenders may petition for removal from registry after 10 years.  Juvenile convictions, except for serious offenses, may be expunged after a waiting period.  Idaho law makes no provision for limiting access to non-conviction records except for unreturned arrest records.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law limiting or regulating consideration of conviction.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Illinois

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost while actually incarcerated following any felony conviction; jury service not lost; office lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon release from incarceration; office restored upon completion of sentence for statewide offices and by pardon only for other offices.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon any felony conviction; restored by state police after 20 years under certain conditions, or by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult prisoner review board.  No eligibility requirements.  Public hearings held with confidential recommendations forwarded to the governor.  Relieves all legal disabilities and expunges record if pardon expressly authorizes.   Board hears 500-600 applications each year, 30% from misdemeanants. Process regular but frequency of grants varies with administration.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Sealing available for all misdemeanors, felonies, and deferred adjudication after three-year waiting period.  Exceptions for a handful of listed serious offenses. Sealing makes records unavailable without court order but does not destroy.  Pardon may authorize judicial expungement (physical destruction of records).  Juvenile records expunged upon petition to court; non-expunged records are sealed (but may be shared with school authorities).  Expungement of non-conviction arrest records.

Courts also authorized to issue certificates to relief licensing restrictions (“certificate of relief from disabilities”) and Certificates of Good Conduct.  Out-of-state and federal offenders eligible for former but not latter.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Limits on consideration of conviction in connection with occupational licensing only for certain employments and only where a person has received a certificate of rehabilitation; certain occupational licenses use “direct relationship” test; state law prohibits discrimination based on conviction only if conviction is sealed or expunged; agency waiver of restrictions on hiring permits for certain healthcare positions.  Negligent hiring protection where employer relied on certificate of relief from disabilities.  Statutory ban-the-box for private employment (no inquiry into criminal record until first interview or at point of offer); by executive order for public employment (no inquiry into criminal history on employment application).

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Indiana

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and jury service lost while actually incarcerated following conviction of any “infamous crime;” office lost upon conviction of any felony, and court may include 10-year ban from holding office or position of trust for misdemeanor bribery, conflict of interest, or official misconduct.  Vote and jury service restored upon release from incarceration; office restored by pardon.

Firearms rights:  Handgun rights lost upon conviction of any felony or domestic battery conviction; can be restored by state police 15 years after offense, or by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides with parole board having authority to review applications and make advisory recommendations; governor must report to legislature at next scheduled meeting; recent governors have required a five-year waiting period and evidence of rehabilitation, with a 15-year waiting period for firearms restoration; parole board notifies victims, court, and prosecutor, and conducts an investigation and hearing where petitioner and interested parties are given an opportunity to be heard. Pardon alleviates punishment and guilt, serving as basis for expungement.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Mandatory judicial expungement of non-conviction records, misdemeanors, and less-serious felonies, if eligibility criteria met; discretionary expungement of more serious felonies.  Expungement eligibility periods range from one to ten years, based on severity of offense.  After expungement, non-conviction records, and records of misdemeanors and minor felonies are sealed; more serious felonies remain public but marked as expunged. Administrative sealing of convictions from state police after 15 years.  Pardon is automatic basis for expungement.

Deferral or continuance of prosecution for drug abusers and alcoholics charged with less serious felonies, if they have no more than one prior conviction. Court may expunge juvenile records at any time upon petition.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Broad nondiscrimination protection for expunged and sealed offenses in employment process. Fair Credit Reporting Act limits reporting by background checking companies where record has been expunged.  Except for serious drug offenses, conviction may not be basis for license denial, revocation, or suspension if individual is required to obtain license to engage in a business, profession, or occupation. Ban-the-box by executive order for executive branch employment (no inquiry into criminal history on initial job applications, unless conviction precludes employment in particular job); but 2017 law also prohibits local ban-the-box laws. Negligent hiring protection for expunged and sealed offenses as well as criminal history that does not directly relate to underlying civil action.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Iowa

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and office lost upon conviction of any “infamous crime,” which is one punishable by imprisonment; jury service not lost but conviction may serve as basis for challenge.  Vote and office restored by gubernatorial restoration of rights or pardon.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by pardon, gubernatorial restoration of rights, or by expungement after a five-year waiting period; no restoration for forcible felonies or firearms offenses.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons and reasons to legislature every two years; application may be submitted any time, but policy of governor’s office to require ten years after completion of sentence; five-year waiting period for firearms restoration; no waiting period for restoration of rights; out-of-state and federal offenders eligible for restoration of rights; pardon relieves all legal disabilities.  Pardons infrequent in recent years; restoration of citizenship granted more frequently.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Deferred adjudication followed by expungement for first offenses.  A person acquitted of all charges or whose charges have been dismissed is entitled to have the record expunged after 180 days.  Automatic expungement of juvenile records at age 21 if no subsequent offenses; sealing of juvenile records at age 18 upon petition after a two-year waiting period with no subsequent offenses. Juvenile adjudication records are presumptively confidential if they do not involve forcible felony.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction in employment or licensure, but state applies a “direct relationship” test in connection with some licenses.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Kansas

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of a “person felony” or drug offense if a firearm was carried at time of offense; five-year or 10-year restrictions for other person felonies; 10-year restrictions for non-person felonies only if committed with a firearm.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides with mandatory, but non-binding, consultation of parole board; governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature each year; no eligibility requirements; paper review with applicant required to publish application in a newspaper in the county of conviction and to provide notice to prosecutor, judge, and victims; pardon removes legal disabilities but does not expunge conviction.  Pardons rare (expungement preferred relief).

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement available for most convictions, excluding serious violent and sex offenses, following a 3–5 year waiting period; no expungement for registrants under offender registration act; presumption in favor of expungement if court makes certain findings.  Juvenile expungement, except for most serious offenses, after hearing after offender reaches age 23 and after a two-year waiting period with no subsequent offenses.  Nonconviction records may be expunged on petition to court, subject to certain court-ordered grounds for disclosure. 

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  It is a misdemeanor criminal offense for an employer to inquire into an applicant’s criminal record without the applicant’s consent. Conviction may be considered in licensure & certification but may not operate as a bar.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Kentucky

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and jury service lost upon conviction of any felony; office lost upon conviction of any felony or “high misdemeanor.”  All civil rights restored by pardon or gubernatorial restoration of rights.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony after 1994 (handguns only for felony convictions between 1975 and 1994); restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor may also restore rights; governor must publicly file with legislature a list of pardons with reasons; restoration of rights eligible after expiration of sentence or discharge with no pending charges; pardon eligible seven years after completion of sentence; federal and out-of-state offenders only eligible for restoration of rights; no public hearing; pardon applications sent directly to governor’s office; full pardon relieves all legal disabilities. Pardons rare during term, restoration of rights more frequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Mandatory expungement of single misdemeanor or violation (or series of misdemeanors/violations arising from same incident) after five conviction-free years.  Discretionary expungement for series of misdemeanors/violations not arising from same incident after five conviction-free years.  Under a 2016 law, pardoned convictions, and certain class D felonies may be vacated and the record expunged five years after completion of sentence, if no intervening conviction or pending charges. Court must hold hearing and there is a $500 filing fee.  Expungement available for all juvenile offenses, including sex offenses and violent offenses, after a two-year waiting period.

Upon petition, court may expunge records of misdemeanor or felony cases resulting in dismissal or acquittal, or if no indictment after 12 months; automatic expungement of juvenile records not resulting in adjudication.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  A conviction may not be sole basis for denying public employment or an occupational license unless the offense “directly relates” to position or occupation sought. Scope of agency discretion defined by various factors. Ban-the-box by executive order for public hiring (no inquiries into criminal history until contacted for interview).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Louisiana

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence; jury service lost permanently; office restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any crime of violence, felony drug offense, or sex offense; restored by pardon or automatically 10 years after completion of sentence if no intervening felony.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor may not act without affirmative pardon board recommendation; eligibility begins after completion of sentence, plus payment of costs; public hearings held at regular intervals; approval of four out of five board members required; prosecutor and victims must be notified by board and applicant through publication in newspaper; full pardon restores “status of innocence.”  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Mandatory expungement of certain felony offenses ten years after completion of sentence, if eligibility requirements met (violent offenses, sex offenses, crimes against minors, and drug trafficking offenses ineligible). Expungement following deferred adjudication for misdemeanors and certain noncapital felonies. Juvenile adjudications expunged after two years for misdemeanors and five years for felonies, excluding serious offenses.  Expunged records not publicly available, except to law enforcement and certain licensing agencies, but may be used as predicates. Non-conviction records may be expunged at any time but remain available for certain licensing purposes.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  A licensing entity “shall issue” an occupational or professional license to an “otherwise qualified” convicted person unless the conviction involves a felony that “directly relates to the position of employment sought, or to the specific occupation, trade or profession for which the license, permit or certificate is sought.” Exemptions for violent and sex offenses, and for specified professions, including health, education, finance, and law enforcement.  Reasons required, APA enforcement.  Exempt licensing entities required to record and report any actions involving convicted individuals to legislature.

Ban-the-box for unclassified state service positions (no inquiry until after interview or conditional offer made). Protection from negligent hiring.

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Maine

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  No civil rights lost, even upon incarceration.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for any felony; restored by pardon; may apply to carry a black powder gun five years after completion of sentence

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides with a non-statutory advisory scheme; eligibility begins five years after completion of sentence; public hearings held at regular intervals, and board makes confidential recommendations to governor after conducting an investigation; applicant must notify prosecutor and post a notice in the newspaper in county of conviction; pardon relieves all legal disabilities. Pardon frequency varies with administration.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Class E offenses committed between age 18 and 21 must be sealed after four years if no other offenses and other requirements met; otherwise, no general sealing or expungement laws. Non-conviction records generally not publicly available. Information regarding pardoned convictions is considered “non-conviction” data with limited availability and can be deleted from FBI database after 10 years. Juvenile sealing upon petition after a three-year crime-free waiting period.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Convictions more than three years old or which call for less than a year in prison may not be considered in licensing decisions; certain professions (medical, nursing) have a 10-year debarment.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Maryland

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony only if serving a sentence of imprisonment; jury service lost upon conviction with any prison sentence exceeding six months; office eligibility lost if convicted while in office.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence, except for convictions of buying or selling votes, which is restored only by pardon; jury service restored by pardon; office eligibility regained when restored to the franchise.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony or violent crime or misdemeanor carrying a penalty of more than two years imprisonment; restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides, and Parole Commission may be consulted; state constitution requires governor to publish notice of pardon in newspaper and to report each pardon, with reasons, to legislature; felony convictions must have 10 crime-free years to be eligible or seven years if Parole Commission waiver is granted; misdemeanants must have five crime-free years; 20-year wait for crimes of violence and for controlled substances violations; paper review by parole board, but recommendation to governor is non-binding; pardon lifts all legal disabilities and penalties imposed by conviction; firearms restoration must be express in pardon. Pardoning varies with administration, rare under current governor.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Effective Oct. 1, 2017, expungement for over 100 enumerated misdemeanor convictions after a 10- to 15-year waiting period, and is automatic unless prosecutor or victim objects.  “Shielding” (sealing) available for 12 enumerated non-violent misdemeanors after a 3-year waiting period. Expungement confers greater benefits than shielding: expunged records may be opened only by court order and are destroyed after three years. Expungement for specified nuisance convictions after three years; deferred adjudication (“probation before judgment”) after three years; pardoned nonviolent first offenders.  Arrest records not leading to charges automatically expunged; other non-conviction records expunged upon petition after a waiting period.  Expungement available for charges transferred to juvenile court; sealing of juvenile records.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  State-wide ban-the-box in public employment (no inquiry into criminal history until opportunity for interview).  Licensing board may not deny license or certificate based on a criminal conviction unless conviction directly related to license sought or issuance would involve unreasonable risk to property or safety. DOC must issue Certificate of Rehabilitation to nonviolent and non-sexual felony and misdemeanor offenders who have completed conditions of supervision.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Massachusetts

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony or misdemeanor if actually incarcerated; jury service lost upon conviction for felony or for misdemeanors while incarcerated; imprisonment during term in office results in forfeiture of office, but office is not lost otherwise.  Vote restored upon release; jury service restored seven years after completion of sentence or upon release for misdemeanors.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of felony or serious misdemeanor; right to possess shotgun or rifle restored to all but drug and violent offenders five years after conviction or release from prison, whichever is later; rights otherwise restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Governor’s Council; governor required to report to legislature annually a list of pardons, but not reasons; eligibility begins 15 years after conviction or release from prison for felonies and 10 years for misdemeanors; petitions must be filed with Parole Board, which holds a public hearing and solicits recommendations from attorney general, prosecutor, and sentencing court; Board provides notice to victim and forwards recommendation to governor; records sealed upon pardon.  Pardons infrequent since 1990; none granted by Govs. Romney and Patrick.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  No general expungement, but felonies may be sealed after 10 years if no subsequent convictions; five years for misdemeanors; pardon automatically seals; non-conviction records may be sealed on court order.  Upon discharge from commitment, juvenile rights are restored and past commitment cannot be received in evidence.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:   Employers may not inquire into non-conviction records, certain misdemeanor convictions or any other misdemeanor convictions more than five years old.  Licensing agencies may not disqualify based solely on conviction in certain specific professions; licensing authorities are prohibited from disqualifying the applicant based on a felony conviction only if the conviction has been pardoned. State-wide ban-the-box for public and private employment and licensing (no inquiry into criminal history on initial application); City of Boston has broader ban-the-box protection.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Michigan

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony or misdemeanor if actually incarcerated; jury service lost upon conviction of any felony; office lost upon conviction of offenses involving public corruption.  Vote restored upon release; jury service lost permanently unless conviction is pardoned or expunged; office restoration depends upon the offense.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for any felony until three years after completion of sentence, except for certain violent or drug offenders who must wait five years and have their privileges restored by a concealed weapons licensing board; earlier restoration with pardon or expungement.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides after mandatory, but non-binding, consultation with parole board; governor required to report annually to legislature a list of pardons with reasons; no eligibility criteria; all applications referred to the board; if board holds a hearing, relevant officials must be notified; board’s recommendation is a matter of public record; pardon restores offender to same position as if the offense had never been committed. Post-sentence pardons rare in recent years.

Judicial expungement & sealing:   Set-aside of felony conviction after 5-year waiting period if not more than one felony conviction and not more than two misdemeanor convictions; set-aside of one or both misdemeanor convictions after 5-year waiting period if not more than two misdemeanor offenses and no other offenses. Set-aside limits public access to the record, but remains available to law enforcement and counts as predicate.  Probation before judgment for first-time drug offenders with nonpublic records kept by law enforcement.  For first offenders found not guilty, or charges dismissed or not prosecuted, records “shall be destroyed.”  With certain exceptions, up to three juvenile adjudications (one felony) may be set aside one year after adjudication or release from detention, or upon reaching age 18, whichever is later.  Most juvenile diversion records must be destroyed at age 17, and most juvenile adjudication records must be destroyed upon reaching age 30.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Conviction alone may not be basis for licensing authority to find that a person lacks good moral character, but it may be used as evidence in that determination; non-conviction records, convictions that did not result in incarceration, and convictions unrelated to capacity to serve the public cannot be considered by licensing agency. Employers prohibited from inquiring about non-conviction misdemeanor arrests on employment application. Employer may introduce “certificate of employability” from Department of Corrections as evidence of due care in engaging in activity/business with certificate holder.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Minnesota

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence except for crimes of violence; also restored by court or pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor and high officials (attorney general, chief justice) act as pardon board, which is required to report to the legislature annually; for a “pardon extraordinary,” which restores all rights and effectively nullifies a conviction, eligibility requires five crime-free years from final discharge for nonviolent crimes or 10 crime-free years for violent offenses; commissioner of corrections screens applications and decides which cases should be heard by the board; public hearing with notice to officials and victim and decision announced at end of hearing; pardon extraordinary does not expunge or seal conviction.  Pardon process regular, but grants issued sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Effective January 2015, all misdemeanors and many minor nonviolent felonies may be expunged (sealed) after a two- to five-year waiting period; sealing also available for cases resolved in an individual’s favor or resulting in diversion or stay of adjudication, juvenile delinquency adjudications, and juveniles tried as adults after discharge; balancing test applies with presumption in favor of sealing non-conviction records.  Common law expungement available for most records not eligible for statutory expungement; balancing test applies.  Deferred sentencing for certain felony convictions which may be knocked down to misdemeanors following probation (does not make them eligible for sealing).

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Conviction may not be basis to deny public employment or license unless a “direct relationship” between occupation/license and conviction history, and the individual has not shown “sufficient rehabilitation and present fitness to perform” the job duties or licensed occupation; rehabilitation is established by one year without an arrest after release or by successful completion of probation or parole.  Records of arrest not leading to conviction, convictions that have been expunged, or misdemeanors for which a prison sentence could not be imposed, may not be considered in connection with public employment or licensing decision. State-wide ban-the-box for public and private employment (no inquiries until interview or conditional offer made); protection from negligent hiring liability regarding certain records.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Mississippi

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any crime listed as disqualifying in state constitution; jury service lost upon conviction of “infamous crimes,” which are defined as any crime punishable by death or imprisonment; office lost for conviction of certain specified offenses.  Vote and office restored only by pardon; jury service restored five years after conviction.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for any felony conviction; restored by pardon or by petition to the court.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides, and parole board may be consulted; informal policy holds that eligibility begins seven years after completion of sentence; applicants must publish notice prior to making application to the governor’s office; parole board investigates and holds hearing on facially meritorious cases; pardon restores civil rights and removes employment disabilities, but does not result in expungement.  Pardons infrequent, process irregular.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement of first offender misdemeanors, some enumerated minor felonies and a single more serious felony committed before age 21, all after a five-year waiting period. Deferred adjudication followed by dismissal for misdemeanors and certain felonies, but no expungement unless otherwise provided by law.  Court may seal juvenile records for certain dispositions after reaching age 20. Non-conviction records may be expunged.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction in employment or licensure.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Missouri

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and jury service lost upon conviction of any felony; office lost upon conviction of any felony or conviction of misconduct in office.  Vote and office restored upon completion of sentence; jury service restored only by pardon.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights, excluding antique weapons, lost upon conviction of any felony; restored only by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides, and parole board may be consulted for non-binding advice; eligibility begins three years after discharge; pardon applications forwarded to parole board for investigation; no public hearing; pardon relieves all legal disabilities but does not expunge.   Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Effective January 1, 2018, felonies and misdemeanors may be expunged, subject to a lengthy list of exceptions for violent offenses, sex offenses, and other more serious offenses; waiting period of 3 years after completion of sentence for misdemeanors and 7 years for felonies; only one felony and two misdemeanors may be expunged in a lifetime; presumption in favor of expungement if eligibility criteria met.  Expungement of non-conviction records subject to same eligibility rules and procedures as convictions, with a 3-year waiting period (eff. January 1, 2018). Arrest records not eligible for expungement under new law eligible to be “closed” under old law (which authorizes sealing for suspended and probationary sentences, and for all cases disposed of favorably to the defendant).   Court may seal and destroy juvenile records after person reaches age 17; juvenile driving records may be expunged after two years or upon reaching age 21. Expunged records unavailable to public, with some exceptions.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No disqualification from public employment on basis of conviction unless conviction “is reasonably related to the competency of the individual to exercise the right or privilege of which he is deprived.” No denial of licenses “primarily” because of conviction history where sentence is fully discharged; conviction may be “some evidence of an absence of good moral character,” but licensing board also considers the nature and date of the crime and evidence of good character. Ban-the-box by executive order in public employment (questions relating to criminal history removed from initial employment applications).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Montana

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony if actually incarcerated; jury service and office lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon release; jury service and office restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost if conviction involves use of dangerous weapons; restored by pardon or petition to the court.

Pardon policy & practice:  Board of pardons is now advisory, permitting Governor to grant clemency petitions over Board’s recommendation for denial; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature; no eligibility criteria; board may hold a hearing in meritorious cases where all sides are heard and a record made, but not required; pardon removes “all legal consequences” of conviction and is grounds for expungement.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Under a new law effective October 1, 2017, all misdemeanors eligible for expungement; expungement presumed for all but certain serious offenses, after a 5-year waiting period, and expungement discretionary for other misdemeanors.  Pardon is also grounds for judicial expungement. Upon request, non-conviction records must be returned to defendant or destroyed.Only one expungement order in a lifetime. Deferred sentencing for first felony offenders and misdemeanants, after which charges are dismissed and access to records is limited; automatic sealing of youth court and probation records upon reaching age 18, but no process for sealing or expunging juvenile arrest records.  Upon request, non-conviction records must be returned to defendant or destroyed.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Conviction shall not operate as a bar to licensure for any profession, but it may be considered. No law regulates public or private employment.

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Nebraska

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored two years after completion of sentence; jury service and office restored only by “warrant of discharge” issued by Board of Pardons.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored only by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor and high officials (secretary of state and attorney general) act as pardon board; eligibility begins 10 years following completion of sentence for felonies and three years for misdemeanors; public hearings held at regular intervals; reasons for approval or denial not given; pardon restores civil rights other than vote; gun rights restored separately.  An average of 80 pardons granted each year, about 25% with firearms privileges. 60% of applicants are granted,

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Set-aside for probationers “nullifies” conviction and removes “all civil disabilities and disqualifications” but does not expunge or seal record; juvenile expungement only for arrests due to police error; limited sealing of juvenile records upon showing of rehabilitation. Criminal history information from cases not resulting in conviction is automatically removed from the public record and available only to law enforcement; waiting periods apply depending on type of record. Upon petition, expungement of arrest records resulting from law enforcement error.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction in employment or licensure.  Ban-the-box for public employment (no inquiry into criminal history until determined that applicant meets minimum employment qualification).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Nevada

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  For first felony offenders convicted of less serious offenses, vote is restored upon completion of sentence, jury service is restored six years after completion of sentence, and office is restored four years after completion of sentence; others seeking rights restoration must do so from convicting court or Board of Pardons Commissioners.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor and high officials (justices of supreme court and attorney general) act as pardon board; governor must report every clemency action, without reasons, at the beginning of each legislative session; no formal eligibility requirements, but typically required to wait “a significant period of time;” public hearings held at regular intervals, except for non-violent first offenders; pardon removes all disabilities, including firearms and licensing bars; does not erase conviction.  May serve as predicate (ex. federal gun prosecutions).  Process takes about one year.  About 20 grants each year since 2005, about half of those that apply.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Petition to seal available after 2-10 years for felonies and 1-7 years for misdemeanors, if no subsequent convictions; presumption in favor of sealing if criteria met. Deferred sentencing for persons adjudged an addict or alcoholic; upon successful completion of a treatment program the conviction may be set aside and the record sealed.  Automatic sealing for probationers upon honorable discharge, other minor offenses under various statutes.  Automatic juvenile sealing for most offenses at age 21, or earlier upon petition after a three-year waiting period. Non-conviction records may be sealed at any time after completion of case.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Prohibits discrimination based on criminal record in public employment, bans initial inquiry, sets standards, and provides for enforcement.  No general law regulating consideration of conviction in licensure, but applies a direct relationship test in connection with some licenses.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

New Hampshire

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony if actually incarcerated; jury eligibility not lost; office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon release; office eligibility restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for felonies “against the person or property of another” or a felony drug offense; restored by pardon or judicial annulment of nonviolent offenses.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Executive Council.  Persons eligible for “annulment” under state law generally are not considered for a pardon.  No public hearing; notice to prosecutor.  Pardon eliminates all consequences of conviction but does not expunge.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Less serious, nonviolent offenses may be “annulled” after 1–10 year waiting period, with recidivists waiting longer. Juvenile records sealed upon reaching age 21. Non-conviction data may be annulled by court subject to “public welfare” standard.  Annulment results in being treated as if having “never been arrested, convicted or sentenced;” Effective 2013, annulled records not publicly available except to law enforcement.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  License may not be denied, suspended or revoked solely because of prior conviction; may be denied or impaired based on conviction if direct relationship. Inquiry into annulled offenses is limited.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

New Jersey

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any crime that is not a petty offense; office eligibility is forfeited upon conviction of a serious crime or one involving dishonesty while in office.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence; jury eligibility restored only by pardon; office eligibility is lost permanently if the offense is one “involving or touching on” the office.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction for specific violent crimes and may be denied a handgun permit or FID card for any crime or domestic violence offense.  Restored by pardon or gubernatorial restoration of rights.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No eligibility criteria.  No public hearing required.  Pardon restores rights and makes eligible for expungement.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement of “indictable” offenses (felonies), “disorderly persons” offenses (misdemeanors), “petty disorderly persons” offenses, and municipal offenses, with different waiting periods depending on offense (most serious and violent offenses ineligible). Petition for expungement of indictable offense may include up to two petitions for expungement of disorderly person/petty disorderly person offenses; up to three disorderly person/petty disorderly person offenses may be expunged at same time, if no indictable offense conviction. Expungement of most drug offenses upon successful completion of drug court. Juvenile records may be expunged after a five-year waiting period with no subsequent convictions.  Deferred adjudication for minor drug offenses and expungement after six-month waiting period; expungement of arrest and other non-conviction records at time of disposition.

Sentencing court or supervisory authority may issue certificate evidencing rehabilitation that “suspends certain disabilities, forfeitures or bars to employment or professional licensure.”  Only state offenders eligible.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  2014 Opportunity to Compete Law imposes ban-the-box rule in public and private employment (no inquiry into criminal history until after first interview). Licensing authorities may not discriminate on grounds of conviction unless reasonably related to occupation.  Pardon, expungement, or certificate of rehabilitation precludes licensing authorities from discriminating against or disqualifying an applicant.  A certificate of rehabilitation issued by sentencing court or supervisory agency is effective to remove bars to public employment, with certain exceptions.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

New Mexico

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote and jury eligibility restored upon completion of sentence; office eligibility restored by pardon.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony for 10 years after completion of sentence; may be restored earlier by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board.  Eligibility begins after completion of sentence with current policy requiring longer waiting periods and non-consideration for certain serious offenses.  No public hearing required; victim notified.  Restores rights and removes disabilities but does not expunge.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Deferred sentencing available for all but first-degree felony cases; civil rights restoration but no expungement.  Expungement available for first offender drug possession if under age 18 at time of offense; court may seal juvenile delinquency records.  Expungement of arrest records for misdemeanors.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  In public employment and licensing decisions, agencies may consider conviction, but conviction may not be an automatic bar to employment/licensure.  There exists a presumption of rehabilitation three years after release or completion of parole/probation.  Reasons for denial must be stated in writing.  State-wide ban-the-box for public employment (no inquiry into criminal history on initial application and no consideration until applicant is finalist).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

New York

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony if sentenced to a term of actual imprisonment; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony; office forfeiture and disqualification depends upon offense and office.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence, including parole; jury eligibility restored by pardon.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony or serious offense; restored by pardon or by Certificate of Good Conduct.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually.  No eligibility criteria; applicants generally not considered if alternative administrative remedies are available.  No public hearing required.  Pardon “exempts from further punishment” based on the conviction.  Special pardon program under Gov. Cuomo that applies to people convicted of misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies at age 16 or 17; recommended if 10 crime-free years.  Pardons infrequent and process irregular.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Under a new law effective October 2017, sealing of up to two convictions (only one felony) after 10-year waiting period for all crimes except sex offenses, class A and violent felonies. Automatic sealing of records following deferred adjudication.  Conditional sealing of certain drug and other felony offenses and up to three misdemeanor convictions upon completion of diversion program; sealing also applicable to juvenile offender adjudications and proceedings.  Automatic sealing of non-conviction records upon termination of the action in favor of the accused unless DA demonstrates “that the interests of justice require otherwise.”

A Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) or a Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC) may be obtained to restore certain rights, may be limited to one or more specific rights. CRD available to individuals with no more than one felony, as early as sentencing; CGC available to individuals with multiple felonies after 1-5 year waiting period.  Persons residing in New York with convictions from other states or with federal convictions may qualify for certificates.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  General non-discrimination law prohibits discrimination in employment and licensing based on conviction; to form basis of denial, there must be a direct relationship and unreasonable risk to property or safety; applicant is entitled to reasons for denial. Persons with CRD or CGC entitled to presumption of rehabilitation in “direct relationship” determination. Protection from negligent hiring liability. Ban-the-box by executive order in public employment (no inquiry into prior convictions until initial hiring decision made); broader ban-the-box in New York City under Fair Chance Act for public and private employment (no inquiry until initial offer made).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

North Carolina

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony, with certain exceptions; restored by pardon or by court for nonviolent first offenders 20 years after completion of sentence.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board.  Eligibility begins five years after completion of sentence.  No public hearing required; DA and victim must be notified, with victim allowed to offer written statement.  Depending on type of pardon, effects range from assistance in securing employment to full restoration of rights, including firearms rights.  Pardons rare.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Nonviolent misdemeanors may be expunged after 5 years and minor nonviolent felonies after 10 years. (Waiting period is 15 years for all offense levels until December 1, 2017). Must have no other convictions or expunctions. Deferred adjudication for first-time minor drug offenders; expunction only if under age 21.  First offender felonies, misdemeanors, and certain juvenile offenses committed under age 18 or 21 may be expunged following a waiting period.  Non-conviction records may be expunged only if no prior felony convictions.

Certificate of Relief available from sentencing court one year after completion of sentence; for individuals with no more than two class G, H, or I felonies or misdemeanors in one court session, and no other felony or misdemeanor convictions. Relieves mandatory collateral consequences, certifies no public safety risk, provides negligent hiring protection.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Occupational licensing boards prohibited from discrimination on basis of criminal record, unless authorized by governing laws; if authorized, must consider whether denial of license warranted given a number of factors.  No general restriction on consideration of conviction in employment, except agency may consider Certificate of Relief favorably in determining whether a conviction should result in disqualification. Certificate of Relief evidence of due care in negligent hiring proceedings.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

North Dakota

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony while actually incarcerated, with certain offenses excepted for jury eligibility.  Restored upon release.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for 10-year period upon conviction of a felony involving violence or intimidation, and for a five-year period for nonviolent felonies and Class A misdemeanors.  Restored by pardon only.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult pardons board.  No formal eligibility criteria, but applicant must demonstrate “compelling need.”  No public hearing; DA notified.  Relieves collateral penalties but no expungement. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Minor felony convictions may be set aside and knocked down to misdemeanors after successful probation, but no expungement except for nonconviction records.  First offender marijuana possession may be sealed by court if no subsequent conviction for two years.  Deferred adjudication and deferred imposition of sentence available, with expungement after successful completion.  Automatic sealing and destruction of juvenile records after a specified time.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Licenses for most professions and occupations may be denied only if offense has direct bearing or if there is insufficient rehabilitation.  Applicant is entitled to written statement of reasons for denial.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Ohio

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony while actually incarcerated; jury and office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony, with certain offenses involving malfeasance in office resulting in a seven-year or permanent disqualification from office.  Vote restored upon release; jury eligibility restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  Firearms rights lost only for felony crimes of violence and drug offenses; restored by court upon application after completion of sentence.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides but must consult parole board for non-binding advice; governor must report pardons to legislature.  Eligibility at any time.  Public hearings; no reasons given.  Pardon “erases” conviction and entitles recipient to sealing.  Pardon policy varies with administration.  Though process regular, pardons granted sparingly by present governor (Kasich).

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Sealing for up to one felony, up to two misdemeanors, or up to one felony and one misdemeanor, after a 1–3 year waiting period upon finding of rehabilitation (excluding certain serious offenses).  Sealing available for out-of-state and federal offenses.  Intervention in lieu of conviction available for certain non-serious first offenses.  Delinquency records may be sealed six months following discharge, except murder or rape.  Sealing of non-conviction records.

Court-issued Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) removes specified mandatory occupational and licensing consequences; 1-year waiting period for felonies, 6 months for misdemeanors

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  May be questioned about sealed conviction only if it bears direct and substantial relationship to the position sought.  CQE evidence of due care in negligent hiring proceeding. Ban-the-box in public employment (no question about criminal history on application).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Oklahoma

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony; office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony and misdemeanors involving embezzlement.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence; jury eligibility restored by pardon; office eligibility restored 15 years after completion of sentence or by pardon.

Firearms rights:  Loss of concealed weapons privileges upon conviction of any felony; restoration for nonviolent felony convictions by full pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Board of Pardons and Parole; governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature.  Eligibility begins after completion of sentence.  Public hearings with favorable recommendations made public but no reasons given.  Applicant not required to appear. Relieves legal disabilities, except firearms; grounds for expungement for nonviolent offenders.  About 100 grants per year (80% of applicants). Process takes about 6 months.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Misdemeanors with sentence of $500 fine or less and no prison term may be expunged (sealed) upon satisfaction of fine; otherwise, misdemeanors may be expunged after 5 years if no prior felonies and no charges pending. Nonviolent felonies that have been pardoned may be expunged after 10 years if no prior felonies/charges pending and no prior misdemeanor within last 15 years; up to two nonviolent felonies that have been pardoned may be expunged after 20 years, if no other felonies/no charges pending.  Pardoned offenses committed under age 18 may be expunged, no waiting period.

Deferred adjudication and probation leading to expungement for first-time minor felony offenders and misdemeanants, after waiting period (10 years for felonies, 2 years for misdemeanors); deferred adjudication leading to automatic expungement for first-time drug offenders.  Records of juvenile adjudications may be expunged upon reaching age 21 with no subsequent convictions.  Non-conviction records may be expunged in case of acquittal or if no charges filed, and in case of dismissed charges only if no other felony convictions and statute of limitation has passed.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No public or private employer may ask about or consider a sealed conviction. Most specialized licensing boards may not deny/revoke license based on conviction unless substantial relationship or threat to public safety. Juvenile adjudications not considered arrest or conviction for any public or private purpose (e.g., employment, civil rights). Ban-the-box by executive order for public employment (no question about criminal history on employment application, unless felony would automatically disqualify, but may ask during interview process).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Oregon

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony while actually incarcerated; restored upon release.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  Automatically restored 15 years after completion of sentence for felony first offenders except those convicted of homicide or weapons offenses; otherwise restored by pardon or expungement.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides; must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  Eligibility generally extends only to misdemeanors and minor felonies for which set-aside is available.  No public hearing required.  Relieves all legal disabilities.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Less serious, nonviolent misdemeanor and felony offenses may be set aside after a 1–20 year waiting period if there are no other convictions in the past 10 years or arrests within the past 3 years; expanded availability for set-aside of marijuana offenses after 2015 legislation. Set-aside restores all rights, relieves all disabilities, and seals the record of the conviction.  Juvenile expungement and sealing upon reaching age 18 after a 5-year waiting period.  Set-aside of non-conviction records one year after arrest if no charges filed, or any time after an acquittal or dismissal.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  May consider conviction, but may not bar licensure solely on those grounds; teachers licenses excepted. Ban-the-box in public and private employment, with some exceptions (no inquiry into criminal history before initial interview or, if no interview, before conditional offer made).

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Pennsylvania

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any offense while actually incarcerated; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any crime punishable by more than one-year imprisonment; office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon release; jury and office eligibility restored by pardon only.

Firearms rights:  Firearms rights lost for specified felony offenses, drug crimes, three or more DUI offenses within a five-year period, domestic violence offenses, and additional specified criminal conduct.  Restored upon application to a court, generally 10 years after completion of sentence.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor may not act without affirmative pardon board recommendation.  No eligibility requirements.  Public hearings with favorable recommendations announced publicly; no reasons given.  Relieves all legal disabilities; grounds for expungement.  Process regular and about 100-150 pardons per year (fewer under present governor).

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Sealing (“order for limited access”) for 2nd and 3rd degree misdemeanors and ungraded offenses after 10-year waiting period; ineligible if convicted of certain offenses, offenses punishable by more than 2 years imprisonment, or four or more offenses punishable by one or more years. Sealed records not available to public, private employers, or landlords, but remain available to licensing agencies and other state and criminal justice agencies.

Expungement available for “summary” offenses after five years; “violations” (submisdemeanors); and for those aged 70 if no arrests for 10 years.  Mandatory expungement for pardoned offenses; underage drinking offenses if over 21.  Juvenile expungement available if: charges dropped; six months after discharge of consent decree/supervision; upon reaching age 18; or five years after delinquency adjudication.

Mandatory expungement for non-conviction records if no disposition indicated after 18 months, or by court order; expungement available for “probation before judgment” cases for nonviolent, first-time drug offenses. Authority to redact conviction records to expunge dismissed charges.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Felony and misdemeanor convictions may be considered only to the extent they “relate to” an applicant’s suitability for employment/licensure in the position sought.  Ban-the-box in public employment by executive policy (no inquiries into criminal history on application and limits on consideration in hiring process)

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Puerto Rico

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored upon completion of sentence. Since the 1980s, gubernatorial policy has allowed prisoners to vote.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for any felony conviction; restored by pardon or expungement.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board.  No formal eligibility requirements, but recent policy has imposed a five-year waiting period after completion of sentence.  No public hearing.  “Eliminates” conviction from police and court records.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Broad expungement authority for all offenses, including violent felonies, after waiting period of six months to five years if applicant demonstrates “good moral reputation in the community.”  Certificate of rehabilitation available for persons who have not completed prison term if deemed totally rehabilitated; conviction may not then be included in criminal record.  Revoked verdicts may be expunged.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Rhode Island

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony while actually incarcerated; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony; office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony or misdemeanor resulting in a jail sentence of six months or more.  Vote restored upon release; jury eligibility restored upon completion of sentence; office eligibility restored three years after completion of sentence or earlier by pardon.

Firearms rights:  Firearms rights lost for “crime of violence” convictions; restoration to felony domestic violence offenders after two years, otherwise by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides but may not act without affirmative recommendation of state senate.  No eligibility requirements.  No process specified.  Restores right to hold public office and lifts occupational and licensing bars.  Pardons rare (none since 2000).

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement for nonviolent first offenders 5–10 years after completion of sentence.  Sealing following deferred adjudication and successful completion of five-year probationary period.  Automatic sealing of juvenile records with limited exceptions.  Sealing of records of acquittals or other exonerations, if no prior conviction.

A person with no more than one nonviolent felony conviction may apply to the Parole Board for a “certificate of recovery & re-entry” which may serve to relieve some collateral consequences.  Persons with federal or out-of-state convictions are eligible to apply.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  State-wide ban-the-box for public and private employment (no inquiry into criminal history until first interview).

 | Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

South Carolina

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony, violation of election laws, or misdemeanor if sentenced to prison; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote and office eligibility restored upon completion of sentence; jury eligibility restored by pardon.

Firearms rights:  Handgun rights lost upon conviction for a “crime of violence,” including serious drug trafficking; restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Independent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power, except in capital cases.  Eligibility following completion of sentence or after five years under supervision and payment of restitution in full.  Public hearings.  Pardon erases all legal effects of conviction, including sex offender registration and predicate effect.  About 300 pardon grants each year.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement for first-offender misdemeanants if no other conviction within three years, for first-time minor drug offenders whose adjudication deferred, and for various other minor first-offenders. Juvenile expungement at age 18 for nonviolent first offenders, with exceptions for serious crimes.  Non-conviction records destroyed if charges dismissed or person acquitted.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Conviction may be considered, but applicant may not be denied a license solely due to a conviction unless the criminal conviction is directly related to the profession/occupation.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

South Dakota

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony; jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony only if actually incarcerated, including a suspended sentence.  By statute, office eligibility is same as jury eligibility; by state constitution, office eligibility is same as voting.  All civil rights restored upon completion of sentence.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction for any “crime of violence” and certain drug felonies; restored after 15 years if no other such convictions or by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor refers applicants to Board of Pardons and Paroles, which must recommend pardon in order to have record sealed.  In general, must wait five years to apply. Public hearings; notice to DA and judge with publication in newspaper in county where crime committed.  Relieves legal disabilities, no predicate effect. Process takes about six months. In 2014, the Board of Pardons and Paroles implemented a policy that expedites the pardon process for certain nonviolent misdemeanors, with waiting periods of 5 and 10 years.  About 30-40 grants annually, 60% of applications.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Records of petty offenses, class 2 misdemeanors, and municipal ordinance violations automatically sealed (removed from public record) after 10 years.  Sealing following deferred adjudication for first felony offenders, except for serious offenses (restores person to pre-arrest status).  Records of misdemeanor offenses may be destroyed after 10 years.  Pardon automatically seals record.  Sealing of juvenile records upon petition after a waiting period with finding of rehabilitation.  Non-conviction records may be expunged one year after arrest if no charges filed; at any time after acquittal, or after dismissal with consent of prosecutor.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Tennessee

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence; jury and office eligibility restored by application to the court.

Firearms rights:  Handgun rights forfeited upon conviction of felony; violent or drug convictions (including misdemeanors) forfeit all firearms rights.  Restoration for nonviolent non-drug felony offenders by pardon, judicial order, expungement, set-aside, or certificate of restoration; restoration for violent or drug crimes by expungement only.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report reasons to legislature “when requested.”  Eligibility after completion of sentence and additional period of good conduct, demonstrated rehabilitation, and need.  Public hearing with notice to prosecutor; prior to a grant being made public, governor must notify AG and DA, who notify the victim.  Limited legal effect; restores firearms rights for nonviolent non-drug offenses, but does not restore civil or other rights. Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement for certain less-serious, nonviolent offenses 5 years after completion of sentence if no more than two convictions, both of which must be eligible (multiple contemporaneous convictions treated as single offense).  Expungement in first-offender deferred adjudication & pretrial diversion cases for misdemeanors and Class D felonies.  Expungement of pardoned offenses. Mandatory expungement of juvenile record after one year if solely “misdemeanors”; discretionary expungement for other juvenile records at age 17 or earlier after a one-year waiting period with certain eligibility requirements. Expunged convictions treated as if they never occurred, public records destroyed.  Court must destroy public records in cases of acquittal or where charges have been dismissed. Courts may also redact conviction records to expunge dismissed charges.

Judicial restoration of rights available upon petition after expiration of sentence if petitioner “merits having full rights of citizenship restored.” Individuals who have had or sought to have had rights restored may also petition court for a Certificate of Employability.  Persons with qualifying convictions from other states or with federal convictions may apply for restoration of rights and certificates.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Certificates of Employability lift certain licensing disqualifications and protect employers from negligent hiring liability. Licensing standards for some agencies relaxed. Ban-the-Box in public employment (no inquiry into criminal history on initial application, but may inquire after initial screening and must allow applicant to explain; employer must consider certain factors if applicant has criminal record); Memphis ban-the-box ordinance in municipal hiring prevents inquiry into criminal history until conditional offer made.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Texas

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony; office eligibility lost upon conviction for bribery, among other offenses.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence; jury and office eligibility restored by pardon or gubernatorial restoration of rights.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored five years after completion of sentence only for the premises in which the individual lives.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Board of Pardons and Paroles.  Eligibility upon completion of sentence; misdemeanants may apply.  No public hearing.  Restores civil rights and removes some legal barriers to employment and licensing; basis for expungement.  Procss regular but pardons granted sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Sealing (“order of nondisclosure”) for most first-offender misdemeanors, upon completion of sentence or after a two-year waiting period for more serious misdemeanors; effective September 1, 2017, sealing available for first-offender DWI offenses (bac < .15) after 2-5 year waiting period (offenses that result in accident involving another person ineligible). Deferred adjudication may result in sealing for most offenses, with a five-year waiting period for felonies; automatic sealing for many first-offender nonviolent misdemeanors.  “Expunction” available for deferred adjudication of class C misdemeanors; non-conviction records, pardoned convictions.  Automatic restricted access to juvenile records when offender reaches age 21, if no subsequent convictions after age 17; traditional sealing upon petition after a 2–5 year waiting period.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Licensing authority may deny, suspend, or revoke license if conviction “directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation”; if the offense is less than five years old; or if the offense is a specified violent or sexual offense (does not apply to class C misdemeanors). In most cases, deferred adjudication guilty pleas may not be treated as conviction for licensing purposes (excluding law enforcement, education, health, safety, or financial services); only registrable sex offenses, offenses where less than five years have passed since completion of supervision, or offenses that would trigger mandatory licensing bar may be treated as conviction and only if they do not pass the “fitness/risk” assessment. Protection from negligent hiring liability.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Utah

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote lost upon conviction of any felony or election-related misdemeanor, unless sentenced to probation; jury and office eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence or by pardon; jury eligibility restored by expungement; office eligibility restored by expungement or after passage of 10 years since conviction and completion of sentence, including any period of supervision.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by expungement (except violent offenses) or pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Independent board appointed by the governor; majority vote required with reasons given.  Eligibility five years after expiration of sentence, restricted to offenses ineligible for expungement.  Public hearings; notice to DA and victim.  Restores civil rights.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  All but serious and violent offenses may be expunged after a 3–10 year waiting period, and order must issue unless court finds this would be “contrary to public interest.”  Pardon entitles person to expungement.  Juvenile records may be expunged after reaching age 18 following a one-year waiting period if no adult criminal record.  Expungement of non-conviction records available if acquittal or charges dismissed 30 days after arrest took place; Class C misdemeanors receiving deferred adjudication also may qualify.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  Ban-the-box in public employment (no inquiry into criminal history until interview or conditional offer made). Persons with expunged convictions may respond to inquiry as if conviction never occurred, but licensing agency, state office of education and peace officer standards training may receive information on expunged records upon request.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Vermont

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  Vote and office eligibility not lost.  Jury eligibility lost upon conviction of any felony; restored only by pardon.

Firearms rights:  No firearms rights lost under state law, but court may prohibit possession of firearms as a condition of probation.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board.  Eligibility generally 10 years after conviction; must show rehabilitation, benefit to society, and employment-related need.  No hearing.  Restores rights and relieves disabilities, including firearms.  Pardons infrequent.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act (UCCCA) authorizes targeted relief from court at sentencing (Order of Limited Relief), and more thorough relief after five years (Certificate of Restoration of Rights).  Persons with convictions from other states or with federal convictions are eligible for relief under these provisions.

Expungement or sealing available for nonviolent non-sexual misdemeanors and two minor felonies (grand larceny, criminal mischief) after a 10-year waiting period if no further convictions (if subsequently convicted, must wait 20 years if no felonies and no misdemeanor convictions within past 15 years); and if convicted under age 25, after 5 years or after 1 year if convicted of conduct no longer a crime.  Deferred sentencing and diversion may result in expungement; sealing available under first-offender diversion program two years after successful completion.  Youthful crimes committed under age 21 may be sealed two years after discharge if rehabilitated and no further criminal involvement.  Expungement or sealing of non-conviction records if charges not brought or dismissed before trial.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  In over 40 professions, conviction of any felony or a crime “related to” the profession is grounds for denial of license. Ban-the-box in public and private employment (no inquiries into criminal history until interview or otherwise deemed qualified; inquiry on initial application only into convictions that would trigger disqualification). UCCCA includes negligent hiring protections.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Virgin Islands

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any crime for which a prison sentence of more than a year is imposed; restored by pardon.

Firearms rights:  A person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year is ineligible for a license to carry a firearm; restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor has power to pardon offenses of local laws.  No information on process.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Expungement of misdemeanor convictions upon petition to court, and of any offense after 5-year waiting period if under age 21 when offense committed.  Deferred adjudication for nonviolent first offenders and first-time drug possessors, with expungement if under age 21 when offense committed.  Mandatory expungement of non-conviction records.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Virginia

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by gubernatorial restoration of rights (case-by-case restoration of voting rights by Gov. McAuliffe).

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony and certain juvenile adjudications; restored by court order or pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually.  Three kinds of pardon: “conditional” (commutation), “absolute” (innocence); and “simple” (forgiveness). “Simple” pardon does not expunge but serves as official forgiveness and removes some employment and education barriers; Governor may also grant restoration of rights. Five-year eligibility waiting period for simple pardon; no hearing. Pardons more frequent under Gov. McAuliffe; rights restorations freely available upon determination of eligibility.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Deferred adjudication, but no expungement, for certain first-time drug offenders.  Absolute pardon entitles person to expungement.  Automatic destruction of most juvenile records if person is at least age 19 and five years have elapsed since any juvenile hearing in any case, with several exceptions.  Non-conviction records may be expunged where case results in acquittal, nolle prosequi, or dismissal.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  May not be denied a license “solely because of” a conviction unless directly related to the occupation/profession for which a license is sought, with factors specified. Conviction may be considered in determining applicant’s fitness for the occupation/profession. Ban-the-box in public employment by executive order (criminal record question removed from initial application; no background checks until candidate has signed waiver and is being considered for specific position).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Washington

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony.  Vote provisionally restored if an individual is no longer in custody; fully restored upon completion of sentence by court order or gubernatorial restoration of rights.  Jury and office eligibility restored upon completion of sentence by court order or certificate of restoration issued by State Clemency and Pardons Board.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction of violent, drug, or sex offenses; restored by pardon or by court order after waiting period based on a finding of rehabilitation.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult Clemency and Pardons Board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No eligibility criteria.  Public hearing; DA and victim notified.  Relieves all legal disabilities and vacates conviction.  Process regular but pardons granted sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  All but the most serious offenses may be “vacated” after 5–10 year waiting period; most misdemeanors eligible after 3–5 year waiting period.  Pardon automatically vacates conviction.  Automatic sealing of juvenile records of adjudication (except serious, sex, and drug offense) upon satisfaction of terms and conditions of disposition (contested hearing if state objects or court finds compelling reasons not to seal); juvenile offenses ineligible for automatic sealing may be sealed after a crime-free 2-5 year waiting period. Juvenile diversion records may be destroyed by court, or automatically in some situations.  Administrative sealing of non-conviction records two years after disposition favorable to defendant.

Court-issued Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) prohibit licensing agencies from disqualifying individuals based on criminal conviction, and protect against negligent hiring liability.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  May consider a conviction only if within the last 10 years and the crime “directly relates” to the employment or license sought; several exceptions apply.  See above on court-issued Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity.

 Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

West Virginia

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony or bribery in an election.  Vote restored upon completion of sentence; jury eligibility restored by pardon; office eligibility restored upon completion of sentence for felonies and only by pardon for bribery of state officials.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost upon conviction for crimes punishable by imprisonment of at least one year and domestic violence misdemeanors.  Restored by petition to court, expungement, set-aside, or unconditional pardon; pardon necessary for felonies involving violence, drugs, or sexual offenses.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and may consult parole board; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature. No eligibility criteria. No public hearing; board must notify DA and judge before making recommendation. Lifts most legal barriers; does not restore firearms rights. Pardons rare.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Youthful (age 18-26) first misdemeanor convictions may be expunged after one year; violent crimes, DUI, and crimes against children offenses excluded.  Effective July 2017, many nonviolent non-sexual felony offenses may be reduced to misdemeanors after 10 years, but ineligible for expungement.  Pardon is basis for expungement after one year and at least five years after discharge of sentence. Automatic juvenile sealing after a one-year waiting period or upon reaching age 18 unless the case is transferred to adult court.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction, but some professions require the conviction to be “directly related” to the activity for which a license is sought. Reduced misdemeanor need not be disclosed as felony on any type of application. Protection against negligent hiring liability regarding reduced misdemeanors.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Wisconsin

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony or bribery.  Vote and jury eligibility restored upon completion of sentence; office eligibility restored by pardon.

Firearms rights: All firearms rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by pardon.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and must communicate pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually.  Five-year eligibility waiting period; misdemeanants ineligible unless waiver granted.  Public hearing; notice to DA, judge, and victim and published in county newspaper.  Relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge or seal conviction.  Past practice varied according to incumbent governor; no pardons under present governor (Walker).

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Misdemeanor and minor felony convictions may be expunged only if committed before age 25, and only if the court authorizes at the time of sentencing.  Deferred prosecution in domestic violence and some sex offense cases may lead to dismissal of charges, no conviction.  Juvenile expungement upon reaching age 17 with finding of offender benefit and no harm to society.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing: Fair employment law bars discrimination by public and private employers and licensing boards unless the crime “substantially relates” to the specific job or licensed activity.  Ban-the-box for civil service employment (no inquiries into criminal history until applicant “certified” for position).

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |

Wyoming

Loss & restoration of civil rights:  All civil rights lost upon conviction of any felony; restored by pardon or gubernatorial restoration of rights. Vote restored for first-time nonviolent felony offenders whose sentence was completed after Jan. 1, 2016, by certificate of restoration of voting rights, which department of corrections is required to issue.

Firearms rights:  All firearms rights lost for any “violent felony” or drug offense; restored only through pardon.  Handgun rights lost for violent misdemeanors within three years or drug misdemeanors within one year; restored only through expungement.

Pardon policy & practice:  Governor decides and must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature every two years.  Eligibility for pardon 10 years after sentence; 5 years for restoration of rights. Sex offenses ineligible for either form of relief.  No public hearing.  Relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge. Pardons granted regularly but sparingly.

Judicial expungement & sealing:  Certain felony convictions may be expunged 10 years after completion of sentence if no other felony convictions; court must find applicant is not a danger; certain misdemeanors may be expunged after five years if offense did not involve use of a firearm.  Deferred sentencing for first felony offenders and misdemeanants, excluding certain serious crimes, but expungement is specifically prohibited.  Juvenile expungement upon petition after reaching age 18, with showing of rehabilitation.  Expungement of non-conviction records 180 days after dismissal of proceedings if no charges pending.

Consideration of conviction in employment and licensing:  No general law regulating consideration of conviction.

Read the Full Profile | Return to Top |