Old criminal records prevent many Vermonters from obtaining jobs, housing or educational opportunities. If you have a past criminal conviction, or a charge that has been dismissed, you may want to figure out whether you can “expunge” or “seal” your criminal record.
Through the sealing or expungement process, the State of Vermont allows for specific convictions and dismissed charges to be wiped from your record after a certain amount of time has passed. There are a couple of different sealing and expungement laws, and the requirements are a bit different for each. We explain the requirements below.
Note: Generally you cannot expunge federal convictions. There is one exception for deferred sentences related to first-time drug offenses.
If you are eligible to expunge or seal your record, you can file a petition with the criminal court in the county in which you were charged or convicted. You can find a petition to fill in at the bottom of this page. (See “What steps do I take?”)
If after reviewing the information below you still have questions, contact Vermont Legal Aid for help. Our contact information is at the bottom of this page.
What’s the difference between sealing and expungement?
An expungement order will completely destroy all records of any arrest, charge or conviction information held by any criminal records database. Neither the public, nor law enforcement, can access your record of criminal justice incidents that have been expunged. When an expungement order is granted to you, you can lawfully say that you have never been arrested, charged or convicted of the crime expunged.
A sealing order has the same legal effect as an expungement order. That means you can lawfully say that you have never been arrested, charged or convicted of that offense. But, when a record is sealed, it is maintained by the courts and law enforcement.
If you would like to speak to Vermont Legal Aid about expunging or sealing your record, follow these steps:
- Fill out our online form, and include your full name — with any aliases or names you have used in the past.
- Be sure to provide your date of birth, the name of the victim (if there was one in your case), and your contact information. If you have a phone number and a working email address that you check regularly, please give us both.
- When the form asks about your legal problem, say that you need help with “expungement.” Also briefly explain why you would like to clear your record. Are you facing any specific challenges because of your record?
- If you have it handy, include information about your past Vermont convictions.
- After you submit the form, someone from Vermont Legal Aid will contact you.