EXPUNGING A RECORD:
The Utah Expungement Act governs how to expunge records of an arrest or conviction in Utah, regardless of when a person was arrested or convicted.
Expunging a criminal record does not change history; expunging a record means that the court orders the records of the arrest, investigation, detention and conviction in the criminal case sealed. Sealing a record means that the public cannot view or copy the record. Conviction includes a verdict or finding of guilty after trial, a plea of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere (no contest).
If an agency does not receive the expungement order, they are not required to seal their records. A government agency that has received an expungement order will respond to an inquiry as though that arrest or conviction did not occur. A person who has had records expunged may respond to an inquiry as though that arrest or conviction did not occur. The order to seal records applies only to government agencies. Other records, such as news accounts of an arrest or conviction, are not affected.
After a record is expunged, an agency's sealed records can still be viewed and copied by some government officials, and the court can order the records unsealed under some conditions.
Although the records being expunged are criminal records, the petition to expunge is a civil case. In proceedings to expunge a record, the defendant in the criminal case is the petitioner in the expungement case.
Certificate of Eligibility
Before filing a Petition to Expunge Records, the petitioner must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (publicsafety.utah.gov) issued by the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI - publicsafety.utah.gov) of the Utah Department of Public Safety. The petitioner applies to BCI for the certificate. There is a fee to apply for the certificate. It can take a substantial amount of time for BCI to issue the certificate.
BCI performs a records check to determine whether a petitioner is eligible to expunge criminal records. The records check may include records that have been previously expunged. If the petitioner meets all of the criteria for eligibility, BCI will issue a certificate of eligibility to the petitioner. The petitioner should file the Petition to Expunge immediately after receiving the Certificate of Eligibility because the certificate is valid for only 90 days from the date it is issued. If BCI cannot obtain a disposition for an arrest, BCI may issue a special certificate giving determination of eligibility to the court.
There is a fee to apply for the certificate and a separate fee to issue the certificate. The application fee must be paid at the time the petitioner submits the application, and the issuance fee must be paid before BCI will issue the certificate. There is an application fee, but not an issuance fee, for a petitioner who was not convicted of the crime, unless the charges were dismissed under a plea in abeyance agreement or a diversion agreement.
See BCI's Criteria for a Certificate of Eligibility pamphlet (publicsafety.utah.gov) on their website.
Petition to Expunge Records
The petitioner must attach to the petition the original Certificate of Eligibility with the Petition to Expunge Records. The petitioner should file the petition immediately after receiving the Certificate of Eligibility because the certificate is valid for only 90 days from the date it is issued. The petitioner must file the petition in the court in which the criminal case was filed (district court or justice court). If no criminal case was filed, the petitioner files in the district court of the county in which the petitioner was arrested. There is a fee to file the petition, unless it is waived by the court.