How to Expunge my Public Records in Hawaii

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The deletion of public records refers to their complete removal from publicly accessible sources. In Hawaii, people have legitimate reasons to seek the erasure of their public records. Some publicly available information can be used to target people for scams if obtained by fraudsters. However, information that has been made publicly available in Hawaii cannot be destroyed. Some pieces of such information are retained for easy retrieval when necessary. While public records cannot be deleted in Hawaii, people can restrict unauthorized persons from gaining access to their records.

What is a Public Record in Hawaii?

Public records in Hawaii refer to documents maintained by government agencies. Sometimes called government records, they can be preserved and maintained in any physical form. They can be written, audio, visual, electronic, or in any other form. In 1975, the state enacted the Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) to give the public a right to access government records. The access provides the general public with more information to dutifully exercise their political powers.  There is unrestricted access to the following public records in Hawaii:

  • Vital records (death, birth, marriage, and divorce records)
  • Land records and deeds
  • Court records
  • Inmate records
  • Permits and Inspections
  • Contractor Licenses

In Hawaii, persons requesting to obtain public records do not need to state the reasons for doing so. The Office of Information Practices ensures the public’s continuous right to access public records. While people have the right to access most public records in Hawaii, there is an access restriction to specific records. In Hawaii, the following are exempted from public disclosure and are not available to the general public:

  • Government records whose disclosure will constitute a grave and unwarranted case of invasion of privacy. The statutes define instances where disclosure of government records will constitute an invasion of privacy. These include:
  • Medical, psychiatric, or psychological history of patients
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Information regarding an individual’s finances, income, and assets
  • Information regarding eligibility for welfare benefits
  • Government records that must remain confidential for the continued smooth execution of governmental duties
  • Any information that federal or state laws have prohibited its disclosure
  • Incomplete and draft working papers of legislative committees
  • Personal files of members of the legislature

Anyone who seeks to obtain an exempted record in Hawaii is typically denied. Sealing or expungement in Hawaii takes out public records from the view of the general public. Only authorized persons can access such records.

Does Hawaii allow Expungement?

Hawaii permits and makes provisions for residents to expunge some records. Expungement removes a public record from public sources and keeps it private. Consequently, expungement beneficiaries can deny such records since members of the public cannot access expunged records.

How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Hawaii

Only a few convictions are eligible for Hawaii criminal records expungement. Even when expunged, the records are only removed from the public database of the state’s adult criminal history record information, the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJDC). The arresting agency and the courts have the right to retain such records. Convictions eligible for expungement in Hawaii include:

  • Operating a vehicle after consuming a measurable amount of alcohol by persons under age 21 years leading to a sentence
  • First-time drug offenders
  • First-time property offenders per Hawaii Statutes

Hawaii does not allow the expungement of every arrest record. Only records of arrests that did not lead to convictions are eligible for Hawaii arrest record expungement. The non-conviction arrest records eligible for expungement are also limited. Hawaii Statutes excludes the following non-conviction arrest records from the list of those eligible for expungement:

  • Arrests for misdemeanor and felony offenses whose convictions were not obtained because of bail forfeiture
  • Arrest records of persons who were not convicted because they are no longer within the jurisdiction of the court
  • Persons whose charges were dismissed because of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect
  • Individuals with cases of deferred acceptance of guilty pleas cannot expunge their arrest records until one year after their discharge

Persons seeking to expunge criminal records in Hawaii must complete the Expungement Application.  Applicants are not compelled by law to fill out their social security numbers (SSNs) when completing the application form. SSNs are only required to assist the HCJDC to confirm that the exact records are expunged. Applicants should indicate the type of expungements being sought on the application forms and then obtain expungement orders from the court. Such orders should be attached to their applications and sent to the HCJDC at:

Expungement Section

Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center

Department of the Attorney General

465 South King Street Room 102

Honolulu, HI 96813

A first-time application for expungement costs $35, while subsequent applications cost $50 each. Payments should be made by cashier’s check or money orders, payable to the State of Hawaii. Usually, it takes about 120 days for an expungement request to be processed. Once approved, the arresting agency and the HCJDC will remove such records from the public domain. However, the courts may still retain the records. Individuals whose applications for expungement are approved are eligible to receive expungement certificates. They may submit written requests to the HCJDC to receive their expungement certificates. Such requests should contain the following information:

  • Applicant’s full name
  • Copy of valid photo ID
  • Date of birth
  • List of expunged charges
  • Phone number
  • Mailing address
  • Date of request
  • Signature

The request must be enclosed with a $20 check or money order made payable to the State of Hawaii.

Will my Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, expungement records do not show up on background checks conducted using the HCJDC’s database. Typically, the HCJDC removes an expunged record from its publicly accessible database without a statement about the expungement. Note that a non-FCRA compliant background check may display a person’s expunged record. This is why employers are prohibited from conducting such background checks for employment purposes. Erring employers risk severe financial penalties.

How to Seal a Record in Hawaii

In Hawaii, individuals with expunged records only have such records removed from the HCJDC’s database. The courts still retain expunged records, and anyone with some information about the cases can gain access to them. Using the eCourt Kokua provided by the Hawaii State Judiciary, anyone can search court records using the names of parties involved or case numbers. Sealing court records prevents unauthorized access to previously expunged records.

In Hawaii, persons intending to seal court records must have previously obtained expungement certificates. The expungement certificate and court case number are required for record sealing. Applicants should forward their written requests to the Legal Documents Department of the court where the arresting agency initially filed the case. A written request should include a valid mailing address and phone number for possible court correspondence. If the court grants a sealing application, the applicant will receive an order to seal their expunged record via mail. The applicant can then search the eCourt Kokua to confirm that such a record has indeed been sealed. Hawaii courts do not charge any fee for record sealing. However, individuals who hire attorneys to help them file applications will pay their attorneys some fees.

Who Can See My Sealed Record in Hawaii?

Hawaii Statutes grants the following persons and agencies the right to access sealed records:

  • A law enforcement agency acting within the scope of its duties
  • A state or federal agency considering the subject of the sealed record for a position that is directly affecting state or national security
  • A court of law or its agency preparing an investigation for the court

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Hawaii

Bankruptcy refers to the legal proceedings instituted at a federal court by a person whose income can no longer cover bills and cannot fulfill financial obligations. It protects a debtor’s property and stops creditors from collections until a suitable repayment plan is agreed upon. Bankruptcy automatically clears some debts,  but obligations such as mortgages and liens, are not erased by it.

It is easy to delete inaccurate bankruptcy records on an individual’s credit reports. The affected individual can ride on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and challenge the three major credit bureaus of such an error. Typically, the credit bureaus will immediately correct inaccurate bankruptcy records once reported. However, legitimate bankruptcy records stay on an individual’s credit report for some years and may affect their credit scores. Paying off all financial obligations on the bankruptcy filed is the best way to delete such records. Alternatively, an individual may wait for seven or ten years to have their bankruptcy record deleted depending on the chapter of bankruptcy filed.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in Hawaii?

Hawaii actively finds ways to protect the personal information of the state’s residents. One of the many laws enacted in the state is the Security Breach of Personal Information Law. This law directs business or government agencies that collect personal information to notify individuals promptly once they observe an information security breach. The only exception to an immediate notification is if law enforcement agencies communicate to the business or government agency that such disclosure will obstruct ongoing investigations. Notice of security breach must be clear and concise. It must include the following:

  • General description of the incident
  • The type of information that the intruder accessed without authorization
  • Steps that have been taken to prevent a further security breach
  • The telephone number that the affected individual may call to receive additional assistance
  • An advice that the affected individual be vigilant and regularly review bank statements or credit reports for any unauthorized transactions

Also, the Personal Information Protection Requirements restricts businesses or government agencies in Hawaii from intentionally making an individual’s social security number (SSN) public. The law prohibits firms or government agencies from requesting individuals to transmit their SSNs over the internet. Transmission of SSN is only advised if it is encrypted or done over a secure connection. Currently, the Hawaii Legislature is deliberating the Hawaii Consumer Privacy Protection Act. If enacted, the law will mandate businesses to inform consumers about their personal information collected upon their verifiable requests. The Act will also require companies and government agencies to disclose details of third parties to which they have given consumers’ personal information. It will prohibit businesses and government agencies from collecting the personal information of individuals under the age of sixteen.

How to Delete Lien Records in Hawaii

Liens are legal claims on properties, and they act as securities for debts. Liens are of different types. Mechanic’s liens are due to persons providing labor or materials for real estate improvement. Judgment liens on properties entitle lienholders to claim such properties if debtors fail to settle their debts.
In Hawaii, the Bureau of Conveyances (BOC) provides a web-based portal for searching liens held against individuals. People can delete their lien records by paying their debts in full. Once paid, the state records will be updated, and such lien records will be deleted from the public domain. Alternatively, individuals can wait for the Statute of Limitation placed on enforcing liens to expire.

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