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Contributed by John Baureis

“I need my record cleaned up!”. Almost every day, a call comes in of a person wanting to clean up his or her record. The most confusing part about this is a person can have multiple records, i.e., a criminal record, a driving record, a court record, and even a central registry record. So, the first thing to determine is what record needs be cleaned up. Most people want criminal charges cleared from their record, and/or their driving record cleaned up for insurance purposes. A quick start is to file a records request with the Arkansas Crime and Information Center, also known as ACIC, with the Arkansas State Police. It keeps a record of any time you have been arrested and fingerprinted. Certain factors apply in each case to determine what you can have removed from your record.

The problem with an ACIC record search is it will not include your driving record, since those offenses rarely involve you being arrested. Typically, you are given a citation, commonly referred to as a “ticket” and sent on your way. Once the ticket is paid, notice is sent to the Department of Finance and Administration (“DFA”) to be placed on your driving record. A point system is used to determine when and if your driver’s license should be suspended. Also, insurance companies often rely on this record to determine insurance rates. You can request a copy of your records from DFA for a fee, or you contact each court where you paid your ticket. Typically, upon filing the correct petition with the court, some of these driving offenses can be removed from your driving record, lowering your points and potentially your insurance rates.

Additionally, there may be a situation where you were neither arrested, nor committed a traffic offense, but committed a crime for which you pleaded guilty in court. Even though the conviction may not be sent to ACIC or DFA, it is kept in that court’s records, even if taken “under advisement” or “dismissed” or “nolle prossed”, which the court and prosecutor could use in the future, should you find yourself back in that court on a different charge. But the good news is it is possible to seal that charge.

Lastly, and usually the rarest of situations, involves claims of maltreatment. The Department of Human Services keeps records of all findings of maltreatment, which can sometime occur even if you were never charged with a crime. In those situations, the Arkansas State Police investigates allegations of abuse and/or neglect, and even if the local prosecutor chooses to not prosecute the case for criminal wrongdoing, the state police, after providing notice to you, could still make a finding of maltreatment, which places your name on the Arkansas Central Registry. Sometimes that placement is permanent, but sometimes it can be removed. Being placed on the registry severely impacts your ability to obtain certain employment, usually in the role of supervising minors or working as a healthcare provider.

Cleaning a record is much broader and more involved than many individuals are aware, but if you believe you have something on your record, taking a few steps will probably get you the answers you need. Not every circumstance allows the ability to clean your record, but many do. If you are seeking new employment, had a wild and crazy past that needs to stay in the past, or you simply want peace of mind that you are clean, feel free to give me a call and we can take a look.

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