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Deleting a public record refers to removing every trace of a record from the records of the court, law enforcement agencies, and any other database held by government agencies. Deleting a record means it is impossible to make any reference to the event documented on the record under any circumstance as its complete removal indicates the event never occurred. The subject of a record may be unable to avoid problems related to a previous background or event. Such events may impact employment opportunities, eligibility for credit, or chances to obtain certain professional licenses. These handicaps often necessitate the desire to have public records deleted. While Nebraska makes certain provisions to hide a record from public inspection, it is impossible to delete a public record. Many times, the same goals that are intended for deleting a record can be achieved by removing public access from a record.
What is a Public Record in Nebraska?
Per the Nebraska Public Records Law, the state defines public records as all records and documents, regardless of physical form, of or belonging to the state and its various political subdivisions, departments, boards, and commissions. The Law provides anyone with the right to request public records without having to present a statement of purpose. Common public records include:
- Birth records
- Death records
- Licensing records
- Court records
- Statistical data
- Voting records
The Nebraska Public Records Statutes are not absolute. They provide for certain exceptions to disclosure by express and special provisions. Examples of exempted records from public disclosure include trade secrets, adoption records, and certain medical and investigatory records. Nebraska allows public access to government records at all levels in order to encourage participation in government among residents at all levels and to demonstrate transparency in governance. Where the Nebraska government acknowledges the pertinence to remove public access from a record, it legislates for expungement or sealing through obtaining a court order. We also offer record-sealing service to Nebraska citizens who wish to start new lives without the hindrances associated with past misdemeanors.
Does Nebraska allow Expungement?
Yes. However, pursuant to Nebraska Revised Statutes Â§ 29-3523, the state only permits the expungement of criminal records in cases where no conviction was received. Â Nebraska allows expungement for arrests that did not result in conviction one year after charges were not filed, two years if the case was dismissed due to a diversion program, and three years if charges were filed but later dismissed by the court. Persons who can also prove by clear and convincing evidence that their arrests were the result of a law enforcement error also qualify to have such records expunged. Outside of these exceptions, Nebraska does not permit an expungement.
How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Nebraska?
An individual arrested due to an error of the law enforcement agency or who qualifies to have an arrest record expunged must file a petition with the court. The petition must be filed with the District Court of the county in which the petitioner was arrested. The county attorney who is required to be named as the respondent must be served with a copy of the petition.
The court will set a hearing date to where a decision will be made on the matter. At the hearing, the court may grant the petition and issue an order to expunge the arrest record if the petitioner shows clear and convincing evidence that the arrest was due to an error of the arresting agency.
Will My Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Nebraska?
Expunged arrest records are completely erased and will not show up on background checks conducted in Nebraska.
How to Seal a Record in Nebraska
Anyone who has been convicted of a crime cannot expunge criminal convictions in Nebraska, However, Nebraska provides other forms of record relief for such persons by allowing them to obtain a pardon or setting aside of conviction. A pardon is formal forgiveness of a criminal conviction by the State of Nebraska Board of Pardons. A pardon will not expunge a criminal record but will restore civil rights lost due to a felony conviction, including the right to vote, the right to be a juror, the right to hold public office, and the right to hold certain licenses.
The right to grant pardons in Nebraska is vested in the Board of Pardons which comprises the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General, with the Governor acting as chair. To be eligible for a pardon, an individual must have fulfilled the waiting period for the offense and paid any court-ordered fines and restitution. A convicted felon must wait 10 years from the final discharge before applying while the time limit is three years for a misdemeanor. Note that persons convicted under federal law or other state laws are ineligible for a pardon in Nebraska.
To obtain a pardon, eligible individuals must apply to the Board of Pardons. The Board considers the application and conducts further investigation as required. Subsequently, the board makes the decision to grant or deny relief by a majority vote. The entire process may take up to one year.
Pursuant to Nebraska Revised Statute Â§ 29-2264, if a Nebraska court grants a set-aside request, the original conviction will be nullified, but not expunged. Instead, an addendum will be made to the original conviction noting that it has been set aside. Nebraska statutes permit the court to order a criminal conviction to be set aside or voided if the judge determines it is in the best interest of the convicted person and consistent with the public welfare.
Nebraska leaves the decision on setting aside a criminal record to the discretion of the judge involved, hence, being eligible does not guarantee that a criminal record will be set aside. In making a decision, the judge considers:
- Whether it looks likely that the individual involved will be a law-abiding citizen in the future
- The length of time that has passed since the person was convicted of a crime and the request for a set-aside
- The type of other criminal convictions the petitioner has had since the conviction in question
- Whether the petitioner has completed any required probation and successfully paid required fines
- Any other relevant information
Both felony and misdemeanors criminal convictions may be set aside in Nebraska. However, the state does not permit a set-aside for all kinds of offenses. Convictions for certain crimes such as child molestation, DUIs, theft, sexual battery, prostitution, and vehicular homicide are not permitted to be expunged. Misdemeanors can be expunged three years after the completion of sentence or probation, while felony crimes require ten years. A setting aside is the more common form of record relief in Nebraska.
After determining eligibility, persons seeking an expunction are advised to obtain a copy of their court record or criminal history from the Nebraska State Patrol in order to find out what is on record and to be able to appropriately complete relevant petition forms. Court records may be inspected or copied by conducting a one-time court case search on the Nebraska JUSTICE Search portal or by using the public access terminal at the courthouse where the conviction occurred. Note that nominal fees are required to obtain either a criminal record from the NSP or a criminal court record from Nebraska courts.
Complete the Petition to Set Aside Criminal Conviction form and make two copies. Nebraska provides instructions for appropriately completing the petition form. Deliver the original petition in person or by mail to the Clerk of Court where the original conviction was filed. Submit one of the copies to the office of the prosecutor and keep one copy for a personal record. The prosecutor is usually named on the original complaint, the criminal record obtained from NSP, or on the court case. Upon receiving the petition and confirming that the prosecutor has received a copy, the clerk will schedule a hearing for the petition and notify the petitioner of the date and time by mail.
If the court is convinced about the request, the judge will enter an order which will be made available to the petitioner after the hearing, usually by mail. Some courts in Nebraska may require the petitioner to provide an order for the judge's signature. After a few days, â€œset-aside" will appear in the court records and other criminal records held by Nebraska law enforcement agencies. Many courts may have specific rules that apply to a set-aside request. Petitioners are advised to check with the clerk of the District Court or County Court in the county of conviction for variations in the petition guidelines. Failure to follow local rules may result in a denial of a request by the court.
Nebraska permits the sealing of juvenile criminal records. If a juvenile offense occurred after July 15, 2010, the record will be automatically sealed when the juvenile turns 17 provided the juvenile meets the conditions set out by the court. However, a juvenile record in Nebraska will not be automatically sealed if:
- The court elected not to automatically seal the record
- The offense happened before July 15, 2020
- The individual is under the age of 17
Other conditions that must be fulfilled to be eligible to have a juvenile record sealed include:
- You were offered juvenile pretrial diversion or mediation
- Satisfactory completion of the diversion, mediation, probation, supervision, treatment, or rehabilitation program or sentence ordered by the Juvenile or County Court
- Charges were filed against you in the Juvenile Court for a misdemeanor, felony, traffic, or status offense
- You were charged with a misdemeanor or infraction in a County Court (except for traffic offenses that may be waived, that is, offenses for which you can waive your court appearance by paying a fine)
Note that you are not eligible to have juvenile records sealed if you were charged with a felony in the District Court.
To get your juvenile records sealed in Nebraska:
- Obtain a copy of your criminal history through the Nebraska State Patrol and court record through the Nebraska Courts website. Both agencies charge nominal fees for the services.
- Complete the JC 15:3 Form and the JC 15:3a Form if your case was heard in the County Court. If the case was heard in the Juvenile Court, complete the JC 15:1 Form and the JC15:1a Form. These are the Motion to Seal Records and Instruction to Complete Motion to Seal Record Forms.
- Submit both forms to the Clerk of Court where the original conviction/adjudication was filed. Make one copy for keeps.
The court will notify the prosecuting attorney and the Department of Health and Human Services of the request for a motion to seal. If no objection is made within 30 days of filing the request the court may order the case sealed without a hearing. If an objection is filed, or if the court determines that a hearing is necessary, a hearing will be set within 60 days of the filing of the motion to seal. If the court decides to seal the record, you will receive a copy of the Order to Seal. Note that it may take a few days after the hearing for the records to be updated and sealed in the court computer system. If the court denies your request, you may file another motion after one year.
Who Can See My Sealed Record in Nebraska?
Criminal convictions that have been set aside in Nebraska will still reflect the related charges when publicly searched in any criminal history database held by law enforcement agencies. However, under the disposition section, instead of revealing the subject's conviction and sentence, the criminal record will read "set aside". In Nebraska, setting aside a conviction nullifies the conviction and removes all civil disabilities and disqualifications enforced due to the conviction.
Although a set-aside does not fully erase a conviction from a person's criminal record, a person who has been granted this type of relief is not required to list convictions that have been nullified on a job application. A set-aside order removes all civil disabilities and disqualifications imposed as a result of the conviction. A conviction that has been set aside can still be used as a predicate offense to enhance a subsequent sentence, to impeach a witness, or to deny or revoke a law enforcement training certification. A set-aside order also does not relieve the obligation to register as a sex offender.
Sealed juvenile records can be accessed by:
- Law enforcement officers, county attorneys, and city attorneys.
- An attorney representing the person with a sealed record for another offense.
- A judge to consider during sentencing for a later offense.
- Anyone who shows the judge good reason that he/she should see the record.
- Probation, Corrections, Office of Juvenile Services, Juvenile Assessment Center, or Detention facilities when a person is committed to their care.
- Department of Health and Human Services for intake, reports and evaluations, and supervision of the person or for licensing.
- The person with the sealed record or anyone authorized by that person to view the record.
- A person involved in a lawsuit based upon a case that has a sealed record.
- Persons doing research so long as that research protects the confidentiality of the sealed record.
How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Nebraska
Bankruptcy is the situation in which a person or business becomes unable to pay their debts and file a legal proceeding to seek relief from some or all of their debts. Bankruptcy records show up on credit records which are often included in the background checks conducted by employers. A poor credit report can inhibit an individual from gaining employment. Hence, many citizens may desire to delete their bankruptcy records.
While Nebraska does not have a statewide law similar to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the state abides by the federal Act which helps protect employers, employees, and potential job candidates. To ensure the accuracy and fairness of consumer information to employers, Nebraska does not allow bankruptcy records to be deleted. A bankruptcy record will stay on record for at least seven years. However, if an individual can prove that the bankruptcy record on file is inaccurate or invalid, it may be possible to have it removed. Otherwise, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on the credit report and remain public for 10 years beginning from the date of filing. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will only be automatically removed after 7 years.
What are Consumer Protection Laws in Nebraska?
Nebraska has enacted several laws to protect consumers in the state from unfair and fraudulent practices of sellers and businesses operating in the state. The Nebraska Consumer Protection Act (Sections 59-1623 - 59-1601 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes) prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce. To make out a claim under the Nebraska CPA, individuals must show proof that they were injured in their businesses or properties by a violation of the Act, whether they dealt directly or indirectly with the defendant. For a claim to be actionable, the Act also requires that the unfair or deceptive act or practice have an impact on public interest, that is, consumers at large. The Attorney General, individual consumers, and classes of individual consumers (class actions) are eligible to bring a lawsuit against a business or seller under the CPA.
Pursuant to the CPA, the court is allowed to award consumers injunctive relief and actual damages, and in its discretion, may increase the damage award up to $1,000. A court may also award prevailing plaintiffs the cost of the suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee.
Nebraska also adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act per Chapter 87, Article 3, Section 87-301 et seq. Under the Nebraska UDTPA, a deceptive trade practice is an activity in which an individual or business engages in that is calculated to mislead or lure the public into purchasing a product or service. Odometer tampering and false advertising are two of the most common examples of deceptive commercial practice. Anyone who violates the Nebraska UDTPA is guilty of a Class II misdemeanor. Willful violation of the terms of an injunction or declaratory judgment of the court under the Act is classified as a Class IV felony. Anyone who engages in or uses a deceptive practice listed in the Act or violates the term of an injunction will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,000 per violation.
State Senator Carol Blood in January 2020 introduced the Nebraska Consumer Data Privacy Act (LB 746) which is strikingly similar in provisions to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). If passed, the Nebraska Consumer Data Privacy Act (CDPA), would place limitations on the collection and sale of Nebraska residents' personal information and provide consumers in the state with specific individual rights with respect to their personal information. The CDPA applies to any for-profit legal entity that operates a business in Nebraska that:
- Has annual gross revenue of more than $10 million
- Buys, receives, sells, or shares the personal information of 50,000 or more Nebraska persons or households
- Derives 50% or more of its annual revenue from selling consumers' personal information
Pursuant to the CDPA, consumers have the right to know what personal information is collected, included specific pieces of personal information, categories of sources, business and commercial purpose for collection, and name and contact information for each third-party affiliate to whom personal information is disclosed or sold. The Act would give consumers the right to access and delete any personal information collected. Consumers would also have the right to decline or opt out of the disclosure of personal information to third parties and affiliates. The UDPA makes the law enforceable by the Nebraska Attorney General, with potential for civil penalties not exceeding $7,500 per violation. No rights to private actions are guaranteed in the proposed law.
Other relevant consumer protection laws in Nebraska include:
- Nebraska Antitrust Laws
- Nebraska Identity Theft Laws
- Nebraska Homestead Laws
- Nebraska Lemon Laws
- Nebraska Pyramid and Ponzi Schemes Laws
How to Delete Lien Records in Nebraska
A lien is a claim or legal right against a property or an item in order to secure a payment or satisfy a debt. Liens can be established to guarantee an underlying obligation, such as the repayment of a loan. If the debtor fails to satisfy the underlying obligation, the creditor may be able to seize the asset that is the subject of the lien. There are several types of liens including tax liens, mechanic liens, bank liens, judgment liens, and real estate lien.
Liens can harm the creditability of a debtor by impacting the ability to obtain a loan from creditors. Hence, many debtors may desire to delete a lien record. However, lien records in Nebraska are a matter of public records. The state does not allow residents to delete lien records except where liens have been inaccurately reported or have remained on the record after expiration. A judgment lien in Nebraska will remain attached to the debtor's property for five years.
The easiest way to remove a lien record is to pay off the associated debt or reach an agreement with the lienholder by paying a certain sum that will count as a settlement for releasing the debt. Though the UCC/EFS Search and Filing Center of the Nebraska Secretary of State website, Nebraska allows requesters to search Uniform Commercial Code Statutory Liens for a nominal fee. The requester will also need to be a neraska.gov subscriber to use the portal. County liens are recorded with the county register of deeds. Hence, requesters can also conduct a search for property liens at the office of the county register of deeds in the county where a lien was filed.
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