Everyone makes mistakes.
When those mistakes involve a felony, misdemeanor or infraction arrest or conviction,
those mistakes can literally remain forever on publicly available search sites.
Recognizing that past criminal transgressions can unfairly punish individuals years later and severely impact future educational and employment opportunities, all states have enacted procedures for “wiping the slate clean.” That procedure is known as expungement. Expungements seal arrest and conviction records and give individuals with felony, misdemeanor or infraction arrests or convictions a “second chance” to achieve their lives’ goals.Utah Code Sec 77-40-104 sets forth the specific requirements for expungements. The crime itself must be an expungeable offense and a certain number of years must have passed since all terms of the conviction and sentence have been successfully completed. In those cases where the accused has been acquitted at trial or where all charges have been dismissed by the prosecutor with prejudice, the waiting period is thirty days.
Most crimes are eligible for expungements. However convictions for the most serious crimes such as capital felonies (murder), first degree felonies, violent felonies, felony automobile homicide, registerable sex offenses and certain other crimes are not expungeable. Lesser crimes which would otherwise be expungeable may in some instances become ineligible for expungement as a result of multiple convictions.
With the exception of the most serious crimes, it may be possible to reduce a non expungeable conviction to an expungeable conviction by filing a motion for a conviction charge reduction under Utah Code 76-3-402. This motion, when granted, reduces a conviction to a lesser charge by one degree, for example from a 3rd degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor or a Class C misdemeanor to an infraction; in some cases it is even be possible to reduce a conviction by two degrees, for example from a second degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor, but only if the prosecutor consents to a “two step 402 reduction.”
The expungement process begins by obtaining an eligibility certificate from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification. Once received, a petition is then filed in the district or justice court of the county where the criminal case was filed and a copy served on the prosecutor along with a consent form. If all requirements are met and the prosecutor does not object to the petition, the court will grant the expungement without a hearing. If the prosecutor objects to the expungement the court will hold a hearing to determine if an expungement should be granted. It should be noted that individuals with pending criminal charges are not eligible for expungement and must meet time requirements after their pending case has been is dismissed or their probation completed following conviction.