Nevada’s good sealing law gets better

In just over a month, an amendment to Nevada’s adult conviction sealing law will take effect, drastically reducing the waiting periods for all conviction types, and reducing procedural burdens on applicants.  Nevada’s law is already one of the broadest in the country, permitting sealing of all adult conviction records except for those related to particularly serious offenses (including sex offenses and DUI homicides), and treating sealed convictions as if they never occurred for most purposes.  When the new changes go into effect, Nevadans will not only be able to obtain relief much earlier, they will also enjoy a new presumption in favor of sealing if they meet all the statutory eligibility requirements.

In the same legislative session, Nevada also enacted a broad law governing nondiscrimination in public employment that includes both standards for decision and an enforcement mechanism. That law, which will take effect early next year, is described in greater detail in the Nevada profile from the Restoration of Rights Project.

The waiting period reductions are as follows:

  • Category A felonies, crimes of violence & burglary: From 15 years to 10 years
  • Category B felonies: From 15 years to 5 years
  • Category C & D felonies: From 12 years to 5 years
  • Category E felonies: From 7 years to 2 years
  • Gross misdemeanors: From 5 years to 2 years
  • All other misdemeanors (with some exceptions): From 2 years to 1 year

The amendment also alleviates some of the procedural hurdles in the current law. Applicants will no longer need to attach to a petition copies of the records maintained by all criminal justice agencies,and they will also be able to seek sealing of records from multiple courts via a single district court petition.  To further streamline the sealing process, courts will be able to order sealing without a hearing if the prosecuting attorney agrees.

The law will still exclude from eligibility petitioners who have been convicted again during the waiting period (minor traffic offenses excluded) or who have pending charges.  And it still provides no guidance about how the court should exercise its discretion in determining the merits of a petition, although the new presumption in favor of sealing should make sealing mandatory as a practical matter in most cases.

In the same legislative session, in June 2017, Nevada passed an expansive law limiting the extent to which public employers may consider a criminal conviction in employment decisions.  The law prohibits inquiry into criminal record until an applicant has been deemed otherwise qualified, and then sets forth specific standards for decision. The new law makes failure to comply with established the procedures an unlawful employment practice and authorizes complaints to be filed with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. Nevada thus becomes only the fifth state to put enforcement teeth into a law addressed specifically to discrimination based on criminal record.

More on relief in Nevada is available in the Restoration of Rights Project state profile.