Utah Court Records
Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Utah
Since criminal records are public information in Utah, record-holders run the risk of losing social capital. They have a decreased chance of getting jobs, professional certifications, or getting elected or selected for political positions based on their criminal history. The amended Utah Expungement Act of 2010 allows these records to be sealed, making them inaccessible to the public. Unlike most states, Utah state statutes do not have any provisions for the destruction of records. As such, expungement and sealing are used interchangeably to refer to the restriction of criminal records. Consequently, these records can be unsealed by court order provided all eligibility requirements are met. The 2019 clean slate statute, known as HB431, allows for the automatic expungement of the records of some non-convictions, infractions, and misdemeanors crimes.
The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records
Sealing a criminal record makes it restricted from the public; however, interested persons may have access to the record with a court’s approval. On the other hand, expungement refers to removing or destroying a criminal record in all its available forms. In Utah, sealing case files is the same as expungement. As such, some government officials may review expunged records, and the court can reverse the expungement order under some conditions.
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 Utah
The process involved in sealing a criminal is the same as that used for expunging criminal records in Utah. Unlike other states, Utah courts consider sealed criminal records expunged. The process involved includes:
- Review the guidelines and check eligibility requirements.
- Apply for the certificate of eligibility from the Bureau of Criminal Identification
- Fill the necessary forms needed for the petition and file the petition at the appropriate court.
- Send the proper copies of the petition to the prosecuting attorney
- Once the request to seal the criminal record is granted, obtain certified copies of the expungement order.
- Send copies of the order to the various agencies that have records of the criminal act or conviction.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Utah
In Utah, some misdemeanor and felony crimes are expunged under certain circumstances. Below are the eligible crimes for expungement as provided by the Utah Code Ann. § 77–40–105(4) are:
- Two drug felonies and three-drug misdemeanors
- Two Class A misdemeanor crimes
- Three Class B misdemeanor crimes
- Four convictions of any degree
- A felony case
Under the Utah Code Ann. § 77–40–105(2)(a), capital crimes, first degree and violent felony crimes, vehicular homicide, and sex-related offenses are all exempted from expungement.
How to Expunge Criminal Records in Utah
An expungement order in Utah covers all forms of record attached to a case. Once an offender’s files are expunged, the record holder can deny the arrest or conviction ever happened during an inquiry. In Utah, a criminal record can be expunged by following the steps below:
- The first step is to get a certificate of eligibility issued by the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification for $65 before filing a petition. The Bureau of Criminal Identification conducts a background check to obtain the petitioner’s complete criminal history. The applicant will be notified if they are deemed eligible.
- After the certificate of eligibility has been received from the Bureau of Criminal Identification, the requestor must file the necessary papers at the court because the certificate is only valid for ninety days from the issuance date. The fees required include a petition filing fee of $135, a certified copy fee of $6, and a $2 fee for offenders that obtained an expungement application form from the court. There are two different petition forms: violators convicted of a crime, and the other is for persons acquitted or had cases dismissed. File the form at the court that gave the verdict. Requesters should make copies of the documents before filing the originals. Applicants that cannot afford the filing fee can apply for a waiver.
- Under the Utah Code Ann. § 77–40–107(1), copies of the certificate of eligibility, the petition, and acceptance of service documents are handed over to the prosecuting attorney with a self-addressed envelope to receive a response after review. A reply will come within the next sixty days, after which the court can decide to schedule a hearing or grant the request. Although if the prosecutor has an objection, it will be filed within 35 days, and the court will fix a hearing date. The petitioner must be present and show that the certificate of eligibility and petition are authentic. It then shows that expunging the record is not against public interest and has met the statutory requirements.
- Once the judge reviews and signs the expungement order, the petitioner will receive a notification and must distribute the order to all the necessary government agencies involved. Court clerks send certified copies to the Bureau of Criminal Identification, the arresting agency, the prosecuting agency, the booking agency, and keep a copy for future reference.
Do Sealed Records Show up In Utah Background Checks?
The Bureau of Criminal Identification, which also handles expunged and sealed criminal records in the state, also does background checks in Utah. Once a sealing order is in place, the files will not show in background checks conducted by members of the public.
Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in Utah
The Bureau of Criminal Identification maintains all expunged records. Although the files are inaccessible to the public and other agencies without a court order, some agencies can access special requests backed by Utah Code Section 77–40–109. Examples of such agencies are:
- The State Office of Education
- The Board of Pardons and Paroles
- Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
- Peace Officer Standards and Training
Those involved in a civil action that originates from the individual’s crime can view sealed case documents. Although access is granted following a court order, and the information in the record must remain confidential.
How to Obtain Sealed Records in Utah
In Utah, sealed records can only be obtained if the requestor has a court order. Interested persons can send a request to review the sealed record stating the reason to access the case file. If the court grants the petition, the requestor will have access to the sealed document.