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Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Kentucky

The aftermath of getting a conviction in Kentucky presents many complications and poses challenges in getting a job, housing, and good credit. In most cases, employers find out about employees’ criminal history by conducting a criminal background check. Kentucky state laws have provisions for persons who seek to have their criminal histories restricted from public access. Convicts, suspects, and victims are all eligible to apply to have their records removed from the public. Victims’ rights are under protection by federal and state laws, part of which includes keeping their information confidential. A few exceptions to the rule exist, such as persons forced into prostitution, thus making them both victims and convicts at the same time.

The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records Kentucky

When a record is under seal in Kentucky, it is not available to everyone in public. Records under seal are available only to persons with a direct stake in the record, such as the persons listed in the record and their attorneys on the case. By duty, the court authorities and law enforcement agencies have access to records under seal. Sealed records, although hidden from the public, still keep all legal implications. Expungement in Kentucky is a permanent deletion of a criminal record that presents the involved person as though they never had one. It involves a complete removal from the entire system such that a background check will not yield any record of that case.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Seal a Criminal Record in Kentucky

Adult criminal records do not get sealed in Kentucky. Records are only sealed in cases about juvenile offenses and other civil cases. Some of these eligible records go under seal by state statutes. Among them are personal information about involved parties, information about minors, financial details, and trade secrets. Other cases that may get sealing approval are merit-based. The requestor must file a petition to the court of current jurisdiction requesting to have the records placed under seal. After a court hearing, the judge decides whether to issue a court order in approval or decline the request. A general guideline is that the basis for the request must outweigh the need for public knowledge. Such reasons often revolve around the safety of involved parties or the need to control external influences that can affect a fair trial.

What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Kentucky?

The State of Kentucky has a flexible set of rules regarding which crimes are eligible for expungement. Each case gets treated on its merit. There are, however, guidelines which revolve around the type and class of offense:

  • Non-conviction or dismissed charges including non-jury indictments;
  • Offenses that have received a pardon from the governor;
  • Misdemeanors where there is no limit to how many misdemeanor convictions can get expunged. Each one depends on the merit of the case;
  • Class D felonies.

All sex offenses and crimes against minors do not qualify for expungement. Also, some repeat misdemeanor convictions may not be eligible. Multiple class D felonies qualify, provided they are part of the same case or incident and do not come under the following categories:

  • Offenses that lead to serious bodily injury or death
  • Abuse of a public office

At the time of application, concerned parties must be free of any pending criminal charges or convictions within the last five years. The waiting period is five years, and ten years for a DUI charge.

Juvenile records can receive an expungement for cases of a violation, misdemeanor, single felony, or multiple felonies associated with the same case or arising from the same incident. The waiting period for juvenile criminal records is two years from the time of probation or commitment.

How to Expunge Criminal Records in Kentucky

To request a record expungement in Kentucky, begin by requesting a certificate of eligibility. To do this, visit the Kentucky Court of Justice, Expungement Certification Process. Otherwise, go in person during business hours to:

Administrative Office of the Courts,

1001 Vandalay drive,

Frankfort, KY 40601

If preferred, request the certificate of eligibility by mail. To do this, download and fill out the Expungement Certification Request Form and mail along with it a $40 check or money order made payable to the Kentucky state treasurer to the address below:

Administrative Office of the Courts

1001 Vandalay drive

Frankfort, KY 40601

Except for dismissed charges, a certificate of eligibility is mandatory to begin an expungement process in Kentucky.

Get the relevant expungement petition process forms. There are different forms for different cases. Identify the forms of interest in the case. Below are some:

  • Forms for Misdemeanors
  • Forms for Vacation and Expungement of Felony Convictions

Requestors must download and complete the appropriate forms, submit them at the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office where the case was filed originally and pay all applicable fees. Misdemeanor expungement costs $100, and if the expunction does not get approval, the court will refund $50. Felony convictions attract an initial payment of $50. If the court grants the expungement, an additional $250 becomes necessary. Failure to pay the full charges may lead to the vacation of the sentence, but no expungement. The accepting authority receives cash, credit card, money order, or certified check payments.

The court should hold a hearing for misdemeanor petitions within 30 days of filing. However, the process is a little different for felony convictions. In this case, the judge informs the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor has 60 days to file a reply with a 120-day extension if needed. After this, the court holds a hearing, and the judge gets to decide within four months. Expunction processes for felony convictions take the longest time, while dismissed charges or acquittals get processed almost immediately.

Do Sealed Records Show up In Kentucky Background Checks?

Yes. Kentucky background checks provide cursory information about the criminal history of an individual. Such information includes a record of arrests, charges, convictions, and incarcerations. Unless a record undergoes expungement, it is visible on background checks. An exception to the rule is information that the laws of the state interpret as confidential. Juvenile records belong to this category and are therefore not visible in criminal history checks. A caveat to this is that juvenile offenses equivalent to adult criminal cases or a DUI will show up in a criminal background record check.

Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in Kentucky?

Sealed criminal records are available only to persons with a direct stake, such as the persons listed in the record and their attorneys on the case. Also, court authorities and law enforcement agencies can see sealed criminal records. Additionally, most government agencies can access sealed criminal records upon a written request, provided there is an alignment with the state’s laws.

How To Get Sealed Records In Kentucky

A record under seal is not available to everyone. To get a sealed record, a requester can either receive notarized consent from the person listed in the record or get a court order. Alternatively, interested persons may wait out the validity period of the seal.

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