How Non-Minor Traffic Offenses Affect Record Sealing Eligibility


State v. Cavaricci
Supreme Court of Nevada
July 2, 1992

Holding: The Supreme Court of Nevada reversed the district court’s order granting the defendant’s request to seal his criminal records because the defendant had been arrested for several non-minor traffic offenses during the five years since that first arrest. The district court therefore did not have discretion in granting such an order.

Why This Case is Important: NRS 179.245(1) allows a person to petition to a district court to have their criminal records sealed. NRS 179.245(3) gives the district court discretion to grant or deny a petition but only if the person requesting it has been arrested for nothing more than minor traffic offenses during the five years after his most recent misdemeanor conviction, pursuant to NRS 179.245(1)(d).

Therefore, a person must meet all requirements listed in the statute before the district court is granted discretionary power to grant or deny a request to seal criminal records. If a person is arrested or convicted of anything other then a minor traffic offense within five year after his initial misdemeanor, that person will become ineligible to apply to have his records sealed for the initial misdemeanor. Committing a non-minor traffic violation in this timespan will not reset the time period.

Facts of This Case: In 1991, the defendant filed with the district court to get his criminal records sealed for convictions dating from 1984 to 1990. The district court granted the defendant’s request and the state appealed the order. The state argued that the district court did not have discretion to seal the defendant’s criminal record and that the district court abused its discretion by sealing records in which the charges were dismissed.

The Supreme Court agreed with the state’s argument. The Court stated that NRS 179.245(3) allows the district court discretion to grant or deny request for a criminal records sealing but only if the petitioner had nothing more than minor traffic violations during the five years after the petitioner’s most recent misdemeanor conviction. The defendant in this case had around seven incidents including DUI arrests, resisting arrest and battery with a deadly weapon. These incidents did not qualify as minor traffic violations.

Furthermore, the Court held that because the defendant had been arrested for crimes related to drugs and violence throughout the 1984 to 1990 time span, he should not receive the benefits of having his criminal records sealed, even for the charges that were dismissed. The Court found that the district court abused its discretion for sealing those portions of defendant’s records because it did not have the discretionary power under NRS 179.245(3).

Key Language: In Nevada, in order to qualify to have a criminal record sealed for a particular conviction or arrest, the petitioner must have had no arrest greater then a minor traffic offense within five years after the initial misdemeanor. Failing to meet this requirement will make the person ineligible to apply for a record sealing under NRS 179.245(1).

Expert Advise: “A person must have not committed anything more than minor traffic violations within the five years after the misdemeanor conviction in which they are trying to seal. This requirement must be met or the person will become ineligible for such a sealing.” Attorney Mathew Higbee.

To read about more cases that help to define record clearing relief laws click here.

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