Finding Legal Help
You are not required to hire an attorney, but legal matters can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. See the Finding Legal Help page for information about free and low cost ways to get legal help.
Como encontrar ayuda legal
Usted no está obligado a contratar un abogado, pero los asuntos legales pueden ser complicados. Considere la posibilidad de hablar con un abogado para hablar de sus opciones. Para información sobre cómo obtener ayuda legal vea nuestra página Como encontrar ayuda legal.
Expunging Adult Criminal Records
Expunging a criminal record means that the court orders the history of the case sealed. This includes:
- records of the arrest,
- detention, and
- conviction, including a verdict or finding of guilty after trial or a guilty plea.
A person who has had records expunged may tell people the arrest or conviction did not happen. A government agency that has received an expungement order will respond to an inquiry as though that arrest or conviction did not happen.
The expungement order 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.
If you are not a citizen you should get legal advice from an immigration attorney about whether to expunge your criminal records. The FBI could have records of a criminal case even if a state court expunged its records.
When you can ask to expunge an arrest record
You can ask to expunge records of arrest, investigation, and detention for a crime for which there has been no conviction if:
- at least 30 days have passed since the arrest;
- there are no criminal cases pending; and
- one of the following occurred:
- charges were filed, but the case was dismissed with prejudice, including in accordance with a plea in abeyance agreement;
- charges were filed, but the case was dismissed with prejudice;
- charges were filed, but the case was dismissed without prejudice or without condition, and
- the prosecutor consents in writing to issuing a certificate of eligibility, or
- at least 180 days have passed since the day on which the case was dismissed
- charges were filed, but the person was acquitted at trial; or
- the statute of limitations has expired.
When you can ask to expunge a criminal conviction record
You can ask to expunge some, but not all, criminal conviction records. You must first pay all fines, fees, restitution and interest related to the conviction you are trying to expunge.
If you entered a plea in abeyance in your case, make sure your case is dismissed. In some courts, you must file a Motion to Dismiss to ask that the case be dismissed. You can use the forms found on the Motions web page to ask for this.
You cannot expunge records of the following crimes unless you have been pardoned for the offense:
- a capital felony, first degree felony or violent felony (as defined in Utah Code 76-3-203.5(1)(c)(i));
- felony automobile homicide;
- felony violation of Utah Code Section 41-6a-501(2) (driving under the influence);
- a registerable sex offense (Utah Code Section 77-41-102(17)); or
- a registerable child abuse offense (Utah Code Section 77-43-102(2))
You cannot expunge records of any conviction if:
- there is a criminal case pending;
- the petitioner intentionally or knowingly provides false or misleading information on the application for the certificate of eligibility; (It is also a criminal offense to provide false or misleading information on the application.)
- the petitioner has been convicted in separate criminal episodes of:
- two or more felonies (other than drug possession);
- three or more crimes (other than drug possession) of which two are class A misdemeanors;
- four or more crimes (other than drug possession) of which three are class B misdemeanors;
- five or more crimes of any degree (other than drug possession);
- three or more felonies for drug possession; or
- five or more crimes of any degree for drug possession.
There are additional conditions. See Utah Code Section 77-40-105 for a complete list.
Expunging a conviction for cannabis possession
If you have a conviction related to cannabis possession and are not qualified to receive a certificate of eligibility, you might qualify for expungement of the record if you meet certain requirements.
You must show that:
- you had a qualifying condition at the time of your arrest or citation, and
- the cannabis was in a form to medicinally treat your condition, and
- the cannabis was in an amount to medicinally treat your condition and did not exceed certain amounts.
Qualifying condition (Utah Code 26-61a-104)
You must have had a qualifying condition at the time of your arrest for cannabis possession. Qualifying conditions include:
- HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
- Alzheimer's disease
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- persistent nausea not significantly responsive to traditional treatment, but not nausea related to:
- cannabis-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome; or
- cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome
- Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
- epilepsy or debilitating seizures
- multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms
- post-traumatic stress disorder (meeting the requirements described in Utah Code 26-61a-104(2)(j))
- a terminal illness when the patient's remaining life expectancy is less than six months
- a condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care
- a rare condition or disease that:
- affects less than 200,000 individuals in the United States, as defined in Section 526 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; and
- is not adequately managed despite treatment attempts using:
- conventional medications other than opioids or opiates; or
- physical interventions;
- pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed, in the qualified medical provider's opinion, despite treatment attempts using:
- conventional medications other than opioids or opiates; or
- physical interventions
- a condition approved by the Compassionate Use Board. I have attached proof of the Board's approval.
Form of cannabis (Utah Code 26-61a-102(32))
The cannabis you had in your possession at the time of your arrest must have been in a form allowed by law.
If you had processed medical cannabis or a medical cannabis product, it must have been in one of these forms:
- concentrated liquid or viscous oil
- liquid suspension
- topical preparation
- transdermal preparation
- sublingual preparation
- gelatinous cube, gelatinous rectangular cuboid, or lozenge in a cube or rectangular cuboid shape
- resin or wax
If you had unprocessed cannabis flower, it must have been in a container described in Utah Code Section 4-41a-602, and must:
- be contained cannabis flowers in a quantity that varies by no more than 10% from the stated weight at the time of packaging;
- have been contained within an opaque, child-resistant bag that a medical cannabis pharmacy provided; and
- have been labeled with the container's content and weight, the date of purchase, the legal use termination date.
Or, it must have been in a form measured in grams, milligrams, or milliliters.
Amount of cannabis (Utah Code 26-61a-102(16))
The cannabis in your possession must have been in an amount to medicinally treat your condition and did not exceed (Choose all that apply):
- 113 grams by weight (unprocessed cannabis in a medicinal dosage form)
- 20 grams of total composite tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis product in a medicinal dosage form)
If you meet all of the requirements, follow the process in the How to ask for expungement section of this web page. Skip Step 1, which tells you to apply for a certificate of eligibility. Start at Step 2.
Waiting periods for expungement
A criminal episode is defined in Section 76-1-401. Also, the following time periods must have passed from the date the petitioner was convicted or released from incarceration, probation or parole, whichever occurred last:
If not eligible for an expungement, a person can consider applying to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole for a pardon. The Board has authority to pardon actual convictions but has no authority to pardon arrests or case dismissals that did not result in convictions. For information about pardons and a Pardon Application form, see: www.bop.utah.gov.
A person is entitled to expunge records of all crimes for which the person has been pardoned by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
How to ask for expungement
The process for asking for an expungement is different from other court processes. Follow the steps very carefully.
Step 1 - Apply for Certificate of Eligibility
Apply for and get the Certificate of Eligibility from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). There is a fee to apply. If you were convicted of a crime, there is another fee to have the certificate issued (unless the charges were dismissed under a plea in abeyance agreement or a diversion agreement).
Salt Lake County's Expungement Navigator program may be able help pay for the BCI fees and help you with your BCI application. You do not have to be a resident of Salt Lake County to get help. See the Expungement Navigator website for more information.
It can take several months for BCI to process your request. Once you receive your certificate, you will have 90 days from when it was issued to file it, along with the Petition to Expunge Records, with the court. If the certificate expires, you will have to request a new one.
See BCI's Criteria for a Certificate of Eligibility pamphlet on their website. Their expungement flowchart may also be helpful:
- Expungement Eligibility Flowchart - PDF
If you want to have your certificate of eligibility sent to someone other than yourself, you must also complete BCI's Third Party Release form and submit it with your Application.
Step 2 - File Documents
File your papers with the court. Remember, the certificate of eligibility is valid for only 90 days from the date it is issued. You must file your Petition to Expunge Records before the 90 days are up. The forms listed here are available in the forms section below.
- Cover Sheet for Civil Actions: Fill out the coversheet. List yourself as the petitioner and the prosecutor's office as the defendant.
- Petition to Expunge Records: Choose the Petition to Expunge Records that best matches your case. For example, if you were convicted, choose the Petition to Expunge Records (Conviction). Fill it out and bring it with the original of your certificate of eligibility.
- Order on Petition to Expunge Records: Choose the form that best matches your case.
File your documents with the court that decided the criminal case. If a court case was never filed, file the expungement papers in the district where the arrest occurred.
Use the case number of the case that you are asking to expunge. If there is no case on record the court will assign you a case number.
Make two copies of all of these documents before you file the originals with the court, along with the filing fee. If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you can ask the court to consider waiving that fee. See the Fees and Fee Waiver web page for more information and forms.
Step 3 - Serve the Prosecutor
Take or mail the following documents to the prosecutor's office that handled the criminal case. If you are sending the documents by mail, include a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can return the Acceptance of Service and Consent and Waiver of Hearing forms to you if they sign them.
- Copy of Petition to Expunge Criminal Records that you filed with the court
- Copy of the certificate of eligibility that you filed with the court
- Originals of the following documents from the Forms section below, with the headings filled out with your case information:
- Acceptance of Service
- Consent and Waiver of Hearing
If the prosecuting attorney was the state of Utah, serve the county prosecutor. You can find a list of names and addresses for county prosecutors here. If the prosecuting attorney was for a city you can use this tool to find contact information for the city's attorney.
If no criminal case was filed, you must serve a copy of the petition and a copy of the certificate of eligibility on the county attorney or district attorney of the county in which the petitioner was arrested.
Some courts want you to do this step first, before filing your petition with the court. If you go to the prosecutor's office first, after you deliver the papers file the petition, original certificate of eligibility and any documents signed by the prosecutor's office.
Step 4 - Prosecutor's Response
What happens next depends on how the prosecutor responds.
The court might order the Division of Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) to file a written response to the petition. The response will include the reasons probation was terminated, and whether the petitioner has completed all requirements of sentencing, probation or parole. AP&P will serve the response on the petitioner, the prosecuting attorney and the victim. The petitioner may file a reply to the AP&P response within 14 days after receiving it.
If a hearing is scheduled, be sure to attend. Be ready to explain to the court why there is clear and convincing evidence that:
- the petition and certificate of eligibility are sufficient;
- the statutory requirements have been met;
- other case specific requirements have been met; and that
- expunging the records is not contrary to public interest.
Bring to the hearing any other documents you have not already filed.
If the court grants your request
If the court grants your request it will enter an order to expunge the records of arrest, investigation, detention, or conviction held by any state, county, or local government entity.
The expungement order does not:
- affect any administrative proceedings of which the petitioner had notice before issuance of the order;
- affect the enforcement of an order issued by an administrative body before issuance of the expungement order; or
- remove any evidence relating to the petitioner which the administrative body has used or may use.
Expunging a record of a traffic case does not clear your driving record.
Certified Copies of the Order
Deliver the order to any agencies with records of the criminal incident. If an agency does not receive the expungement order, they are not required to seal their records. You must deliver the order to any agencies with relevant records. Get as many certified copies of the order as there are agencies with records.
Get the certified copies as soon as the order is entered and before the case is sealed. Once the case is sealed you can only get copies of the order by filing a petition to unseal the record. There is a fee for each certified copy, unless it is waived by the court.
You may pick up certified copies of the expungement order at the courthouse or have them mailed. To have certified copies mailed, send a request for a specific number of copies to the clerk of the court and include a self-addressed envelope with sufficient return postage.
An agency receiving the expungement order must seal or otherwise restrict public access to the relevant records in its possession or expunge all references to the petitioner's name in the records.
The court in which the order is entered will automatically seal all related court records. When a court case is sealed, even information about the existence of the case is not publicly available. If anyone asks about the expunged case, court staff will respond as though case does not exist.
To have the records of a government agency sealed, the petitioner must deliver a certified copy of the expungement order on the agency. These might include:
- the arresting agency (city police; county sheriff, Utah Highway Patrol);
- the booking agency (county jail);
- prosecutor's office
- the Department of Corrections
- BCI (Attach a copy of the Certificate of Eligibility to the expungement order delivered to BCI.); or
- Driver License Division.
These webpages list some of the agencies that may have records.
There may be other agencies with records. If an agency does not receive the expungement order, they are not required to seal their records. If requested, the clerk will provide addresses for agencies within the jurisdiction of the court. For other agencies, the petitioner must find the correct address.
The petitioner does not have to deliver a copy of the expungement order to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. BCI will forward a copy of the order to the FBI.
Unless otherwise provided by law or ordered by the court to respond differently, a government agency or official who has received an expungement order will respond to an inquiry as though that arrest or conviction did not occur. Unless ordered by a court to do so, a government agency or official who has received an expungement order may not divulge information identifying the petitioner. A person who has had records expunged may respond to an inquiry as though that arrest or conviction did not occur.
Expunging Appellate Records
If a defendant in a criminal case appealed their case to the Utah Court of Appeals or Utah Supreme Court, they may also want to expunge their appellate records. This requires a separate process and does not happen automatically just because the trial court expunged its records.
To do this, the defendant must file a petition with the Utah Supreme Court. This process is governed by Supreme Court Standing Order No. 12.
The petitioner must have an order from a district court which expunges their entire trial court record as well as any information in possession of other government entities, such as law enforcement.
The petitioner must file with the Utah Supreme Court and serve on the Utah Attorney General:
- a written petition,
- a copy of the expungement petition that was filed with the district court,
- a certified copy of the district court's expungement order, and
- a proposed redacted appellate court opinion to replace the previously-published opinion
There are no forms on this website to petition the Utah Supreme Court to expunge appellate records.
Proposed Redacted Opinion
To "redact" information means to obscure it or leave it out. The proposed redacted opinion must replace the petitioner's name with initials, such as "J.C.," or with the pseudonym "Pat Doe."
Additional personal identifying information must also be redacted, including the petitioner's address, birthdate, and government-issued identification numbers, if they were included as part of the original opinion.
The Utah Attorney General's office has 30 days from which they were served to object to the expungement and/or to object to the proposed redacted opinion.
Effect of Appellate Expungement
If the Utah Supreme Court grants the expungement petition, the appellate courts will:
- Seal any appellate court records, including appellate briefs. No one may access a sealed record except by order of the court.
- Replace the previously-issued opinion with a redacted opinion.
- Notify LexisNexis and Westlaw of the redacted opinion. The defendant may notify other publishers about the redacted opinion.
Note: non-government entities (such as legal publishers) do not have an obligation to expunge or redact information in their possession.
Agency Contact Information
To have the records of a government agency sealed, the petitioner must deliver a certified copy of the expungement order on the agency. The following links are to webpages that list some agencies which may have records.
- County and City Government
- County Attorneys
- Utah Law Enforcement Agencies
- Utah State Agencies
- Utah Courts
Continued Use of Sealed Records
After sealing, BCI continues to index and maintain all expunged records of arrests and convictions, but the records will not be released to the public. BCI will not divulge any information contained in the expunged records to any person or agency without a court order, unless authorized by statute to do so. Upon request, the following organizations may receive information contained in expunged records:
- the Board of Pardons and Parole;
- Peace Officer Standards and Training;
- federal authorities, unless prohibited by federal law;
- the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing; and
- the State Office of Education.
When considering whether to issue a permit to carry a concealed firearm, BCI may use the information in expunged records in determining whether the applicant or permit holder has been or is a danger to self or others.
Expunged records may be released to or viewed by the petitioner, but the petitioner must first obtain a court order to unseal the record. Expunged records may also be released to or viewed by parties to a civil action arising out of the incident, including a law enforcement officer in the officer's defense of a civil action. These parties must first obtain a court order to unseal the record. The information must be kept confidential and used only in the civil action.
If the petitioner is later charged with a felony, the state may petition the court to open expunged records. A court may order expunged records to be opened and admitted into evidence for sentencing. The expunged records are confidential and are available for inspection only by the court, parties, counsel for the parties, and any other person authorized by the court. At the end of the proceeding, the court will order the records resealed.
- Application for Certificate of Eligibility from BCI
- Coversheet (not all courts require this form)
- Petition to Expunge Records (choose one)
- Order on Petition to Expunge Records (choose one)
- Acceptance of Service - PDF | Word
- Consent and Waiver of Hearing - PDF | Word
- Victim's Statement -
(if there was a victim in the case and the prosecutor requests this form)
- Proof of Service
(if the prosecutor's office will not accept service)
- Reply to Victim's or Prosecutor's Statement -
(if a victim or prosecutor statement is filed and you wish to respond)
- Expunging Juvenile Records
- Fee Waiver
- Criminal Justice Information
- Filing Procedures
- Finding an Attorney
- Free Legal Clinics
- Going to Court
- Motion to Reduce Conviction (402 Motion)
- Registerable sex offenses. Section 77-41-106
- Rules of Civil Procedure
- Serving Papers
- Utah Expungement Act: Title 77, Chapter 40
The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.