As the 2017 legislative session ended, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a law that significantly increases opportunities to seal criminal records. Assembly Bill 327, which took effect on October 1, puts Nevada at the forefront of states changing record clearance laws to help people with criminal convictions move beyond their record.
The new law reduces the length of time a person must wait before petitioning for a record sealing, establishes a presumption in favor of sealing in most cases, and simplifies the petition process for those who want to seal more than one record. It also opens the possibility of sealing to those who received a dishonorable discharge from probation, which can result from not paying all fines and fees. Offenses that were previously ineligible for sealing, such as sex crimes and felony DUIs, remain ineligible under the new law.
AB 327 reduces the waiting period for various levels of offenses, which include:
- Category A felonies, crimes of violence, and burglary, for which the time is reduced from 15 years to 10 years
- Category B, C, and D felonies, for which the time is reduced from 12 years to 5 years
- Category E felonies, for which the time is reduced from seven years to two years
- Gross misdemeanors, for which the time is reduced from five years to two years
- Most other misdemeanors, for which the time is reduced from two years to one year
For people completing a reentry program after incarceration, the time is reduced from five years to four years.
The law also streamlines the sealing process when more than one court is involved. Before AB 327, a person would have to file multiple petitions to seal records for cases in different courts; now, a person can file a single petition in the district court to request sealing of all eligible records.
Proponents of the bill say it will have positive effects, both economically and socially.
“The new law comes at an auspicious time,” said Rita Greggio, Community Development Attorney at Nevada Legal Services. “As Nevada’s economy continues to grow, the job market has become increasingly competitive, and the new law will allow job seekers to seal their records more quickly, allowing them to re-enter the workforce sooner.”
“It’s hard for most people to imagine the barriers caused by a criminal record,” said Barbara Buckley, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. “Individuals can lose opportunities for employment, housing, and so much more. Last year we saw a mom denied access to a military base to see her son graduate. Changing these laws will change so many lives for the better.”