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Deleting public records refer to the total erasure of the documents that members of the public can access. In Arkansas, there are legitimate reasons anyone would seek to delete their information from the public domain. Having some publicly available records can be dangerous since there is no control over how they are used. Fraudsters can use publicly available information to extort, scam, or even cause bodily injury to records subjects. Some public records may also prevent persons named on them from getting gainful employment or accessing some government benefits. Regardless of the validity of the reasons, the physical destruction of public records in Arkansas is technically impossible. However, it is possible to place some records out of the reach of members of the public.
What is a Public Record in Arkansas?
According to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), all records created and maintained by public offices or their employees while discharging duties that fall within their employment scope are public records. The FOIA extends public recordsâ€™ reach to include all data compiled in any medium by agencies that government funds wholly or partly fund. The following are some public records in Arkansas:
- Vital records (birth, death, marriage, and divorce)
- Criminal records
- Inmate records
- Court records
Members of the public are legally authorized to view or make copies of public records in Arkansas. It is believed that access to information will help the general public make better decisions when exercising their political power. The FOIA is, however, not all-encompassing. It recognizes the need to keep some records out of the public domain. Some of the records excluded from the FOIA, as stated in the Arkansas Annotated Codes, are:
- Medical records
- Adoption records
- Education records, as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
- Grand jury minutes
- State income tax records
- Documents placed under seal by the courts
- Law enforcement agenciesâ€™ undisclosed investigations
- Files that will place an advantage on business competitors or bidders
- Unpublished drafts of judicial or quasi-judicial opinions and decisions
- The location files and records maintained by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and the Arkansas Archeological Survey
- Unpublished memoranda, correspondence, and working papers of the Governor, Supreme Court Justices, the General Assembly, Court of Appeal Judges, and the Attorney General
- Identities of law enforcement officers currently working undercover
- Personnel records
- Military service discharge records for veterans discharged from service less than seventy years before the requestâ€™s current date
Members of the public are unauthorized to view or obtain these records. All other records not excluded by the FOIA are open to members of the public. Persons desiring to delete publicly available records apply to seal them. Such records will not be physically destroyed but will be placed beyond the reach of members of the public. Only legally authorized persons can access sealed records.
Does Arkansas allow Expungement?
Amendments to Arkansas laws rescinded Arkansas criminal records expungement laws. The Comprehensive Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2013 combines both record sealing and expungement. In Arkansas, expungement refers to the legal removal of publicly available records. It offers individuals the opportunity of having clean criminal records and permits them to deny the existence of such records. In effect, the uniform record sealing introduced serves the same purpose. It restricts public access to information and enables subjects of sealed records to get clean criminal records.
How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Arkansas?
There is no provision for offenders to file Arkansas criminal records expungement. However, they can file petitions to seal their records and have them taken away from public access. If such a petition is approved, an order will be served on all record repositories for immediate sealing of the record.
Will my Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Arkansas?
Typically, sealed records do not show up on background checks. However, Arkansas law permits the background checks conducted by some employers to reveal sealed records. Such employers include:
- Schools (for teaching jobs)
- Daycare centers
- Nursing homes
- Law enforcement agencies
Also, Non-FCRA compliant third-party background check service providers with stale criminal records databases may cause some sealed records to appear on background checks.
How to Seal a Record in Arkansas
Statutorily, Arkansas does not permit the sealing of every conviction. Convictions that are eligible for sealing include:
- Misdemeanors: Section 16-19-1405 of the Arkansas Statutes permits the sealing of a personâ€™s misdemeanor convictions having served the complete sentence as ordered by the courts. However, persons convicted for the following misdemeanor offenses must wait for five years after the completion of their sentences to eligible for records sealing:
- Negligent homicide falling under Class A misdemeanor
- Indecent exposure
- Third-degree battery
- Fourth-degree sexual assault
- Public sexual indecency
- Third-degree domestic battery
- Driving or boating while intoxicated
- Felonies: Section 16-90-1408 of the Arkansas Statutes allows offenders convicted for the following felonies to file petitions to seal their records immediately after the completion of their entire sentence:
- Non-violent Class C and Class D felonies
- Unclassified felonies
- Solicitation to commit or attempt to commit the above felonies
- Non-violent felonies committed as minors
Persons convicted for violent Class C or Class D felonies must wait for five years after completing their entire sentence before filing to seal their records.
- Arkansas also grants those involved in cases dismissed, acquitted, or had nolle prosequi filed against them the right to file petitions for record sealing.
- Persons convicted for offenses committed while they were victims of human trafficking (for example, prostitution) are also entitled to have their records sealed.
- In Arkansas, an individual convicted for the possession of controlled substances can file a petition to have such records sealed if:
- Before sentencing, an intake officer appointed by the court determines that such a person is addicted to drugs and has recommended residential drug treatments.
- The court places such a person on probation and rules that they must complete court-approved drug treatment programs. Such an individual must abstain from drug intake throughout probation.
- First-time offenders who plead guilty or no contest to charges against them may be Â sentenced to one-year probation. After the successful completion of the probation, they can petition to have such records sealed. However, the following offenses do not qualify for record sealing, even for first-time offenders:
- A serious violent felony offense
- An offense that requires a convict to register as a sex offender in Arkansas
- Public sexual indecency
- Exposing another person to HIV
- Indecent exposure
- Section 16-90-1411 of the Arkansas Statutes empowers minors to have some of their criminal records sealed. Minors must meet the following conditions before their records can be sealed:
- They must have committed a felony in Arkansas when under the age of 16
- They were convicted and received suspended sentences
- They have received pardons for the convictions
- They must not have been convicted for any other criminal offense
In Arkansas, persons whose convictions meet these conditions can file petitions to seal the records at the Circuit or District Court. The court must be in the county where they committed the offenses. The conviction records to be sealed determines what type of form to use. Offenders should complete and file the Petition to Seal Felony for felony offenses. The Petition to Seal Misdemeanors is for persons seeking to seal misdemeanor convictions. For Arkansas arrest records sealing, interested persons should complete the Petition to Seal Arrest. Individuals seeking to seal records for other convictions can find the appropriate forms online. A verified statement under oath must be enclosed with the petition stating that the petitioner has no pending felony case in Arkansas or anywhere outside the state. There must also be a statement under oath that the petitioner has not committed any offense that requires their registration as a sex offender.
Typically, copies of an offenderâ€™s petition are served on the state prosecutor and the arresting agency. The parties to the case must challenge the petition within 30 days of filing. If there is no objection, the court may grant the order to seal a petitionerâ€™s record without holding any hearing. If an objection is filed, however, the court will set a date for a hearing where all the parties will argue their cases. After the presentation by all the parties, the judge may decide to approve the petition or reject it.
Record sealing order varies in Arkansas, and it depends on the record to be sealed. For instance, the Order to Seal Arrest mandates record custodians to seal all records of a personâ€™s arrest. Similarly, an Order to Seal Felony approves the sealing of felony records, while an Order to Seal Misdemeanor mandates record custodians to seal misdemeanor records. Petitioners must ensure to file such orders with the court clerk.
Who Can See My Sealed Record in Arkansas?
Statutorily, only the following persons are authorized to view sealed records in Arkansas:
- The person named in the sealed record or an attorney representing them
- A criminal justice agency
- A court (if the subject has been convicted for another crime)
- A prosecuting attorney for criminal justice purposes
- A state agency or board that issues licenses to healthcare professionals
- The Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC)
- The Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST)
How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Arkansas
Bankruptcy is a federally backed proceeding designed to protect debtors from creditors. Individuals overwhelmed by debts and are no longer able to meet their financial obligations can file bankruptcy at a federal court. Filing bankruptcy clears most of an individualâ€™s debts. However, it does not clear alimonies, child support, or criminal fines. Bankruptcy also allows for the restructuring of a suitable and realistic repayment plan.
In Arkansas, an individual can delete inaccurate bankruptcy records off their credit report by writing a letter to the credit bureau. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates the credit bureaus to delete erroneous credit reports once challenged. Legitimate bankruptcy records are hard to delete. Generally, an individual can Â wait for some years to have their bankruptcy record deleted. The most common types of bankruptcies filed in Arkansas are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Chapter 13 bankruptcy record is deleted after seven years, while Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes ten years before it is deleted.
What are Consumer Protection Laws in Arkansas?
One of the many laws that protect consumersâ€™ information in Arkansas is the Arkansas Personal Information Protection Act. The Act directs businesses that collect consumersâ€™ data to protect such information by the most secure means possible. When a consumerâ€™s information gets compromised, the company involved must immediately notify such a consumer. It is believed that prompt notification will prevent the misuse of the compromised data. Recent amendments to the Personal Information Protection Act mandate companies to inform the State Attorney General if the information of 1,000 or more Arkansans becomes compromised.
How to Delete Lien Records in Arkansas
Liens are legal claims against assets and are used as securities for debts. In Arkansas, a lien guarantees the right of the lienholder to claim the asset under lien if the obligation is not met. There are different types of liens, and they include:
- A judgment lien is placed on a property, and it grants the lienholder the right to lay claim on a property if a debt is not paid
- A mechanic lien is for contractors, suppliers, subcontractors, and persons who supply labor, engines, and machinery piece
- State tax liens are imposed by the state on the properties of persons with delinquent taxes
Arkansas provides an online portal for persons who wish to search liens in the state. Alternatively, individuals can search liens at the county clerk offices in their counties of residence. Some third-party public record search service providers also offer online lien search services.
To delete lien records in Arkansans, debtors must pay their obligations in full. After payment, the county clerks will update their records, and such liens will be deleted. Alternatively, lien records can be deleted by allowing the statute of limitation on the enforcement of liens to elapse. If no action is taken by the lienholder after some time, they will lose the right to enforce the lien, and it becomes void. Judgment liens on properties in Arkansas expire after ten years. If the lien holder fails to take action before that time, the lien becomes void. Mechanic liens in Arkansas must also be filed within 120 days after the last day of supplying labor or materials.
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