If you have been convicted of a crime in Hawaii or even if you were simply arrested, you have a criminal record.
Criminal records, in most circumstances, are accessible by the public online or via a background check. This can have a major impact on your job opportunities, housing prospects and even whether you can qualify for a loan.
One way to keep the public from accessing your criminal record is by having it expunged — also referred to as “sealed.”
It is important that you have both your court records and your arrest records sealed. This way the information about both a conviction and even an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, with some exceptions, is not accessible by the public.
How to seal an arrest record
If you were arrested, but not convicted, you might be able to have your arrest record sealed.
Note, though, that not all arrest records can be sealed. These include:
- Arrests where there has not been a conviction due to the forfeiture of bail
- Arrests where there has been no conviction due to absenting oneself from the jurisdiction of the court
- Acquittals due to mental disease or involuntary hospitalization
- A period of one year must pass if your charge was dismissed due to a nolo contendere plea or a deferred acceptance of a guilty plea
- Pardoned charges
In addition, only certain convictions can be expunged. Some examples include but are not limited to:
- DUIs for those under the legal drinking age
- First time drug offenses
- First time property offenses
It will take 120 days to finalize an expungement.
How to seal a court record
To have the court seal your court records, you must submit a written request with the court to have the records removed from judicial files and the judiciary’s public database.
You also must submit a Certificate of Expungement. You can obtain this document from the Department of the Attorney General.
Following judicial approval of your request, the court must seal the records within a reasonable time.
Take care when seeking an expungement
Expunging an arrest record or court record must be handled carefully. Mistakes can lead to a denial of an expungement. Many people seeking an expungement in Hawaii choose to do so after having sought legal advice on the topic.