Compared to many states, North Dakota’s criminal records laws are very conservative. While juvenile records remain confidential, adults typically cannot expunge their criminal record. However, adults may seal their records under some circumstances. Expungement indicates that the records have been destroyed, whereas sealing a record only makes the conviction unavailable for viewing by the general public.
Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records
In North Dakota, juvenile records are automatically sealed once a criminal proceeding has ended—making the records confidential. Juvenile records are eventually destroyed pursuant to the court’s document retention policies.
Sealing of Adult Criminal Records
North Dakota will not expunge most adult criminal records. However, some criminal records may be sealed, making them confidential. You may seal:
- Some non-conviction records (if you were acquitted, or if charges were dismissed or withdrawn),
- Cases where sentencing was deferred and you completed probation or a diversion program, and
- Some first offender marijuana offenses.
If you need help determining your eligibility, contact a criminal defense or expungement lawyer.
If you are ineligible for record sealing, you may apply for a pardon with the North Dakota Pardon Advisory Board. While a pardon does not remove a conviction from your criminal record, it can help prove your rehabilitation to prospective employers. North Dakota approves a very small number of pardons each year. If you have questions about a pardon or clemency application, you should contact a criminal lawyer.
Associated Fees and Paperwork
Filing fees and costs may vary, depending on the severity of your criminal record. If you hire a clemency or criminal defense lawyer, you may also be charged for attorney fees and other costs.
Should I Consult a Lawyer?
Since it is very difficult to seal criminal records in North Dakota, it is important to hire a skilled North Dakota expungement lawyer, not an expungement lawyer, when you face charges or prosecution. Additionally, a criminal lawyer can help guide you through the record sealing process. A lawyer can help you present a strong case and give you the best chance of sealing your criminal record or petitioning for clemency.