Expungement vs Record Sealing?

These terms have different meanings. Expungement typically means that a criminal record is destroyed, while a sealed record still exists and can be viewed by law enforcement and some employers. 

Are expungement and record-sealing laws the same throughout the U.S.?

NO. Expungement, record sealing, set-asides, and other post–conviction relief policies are VERY different state to state, sometimes even county by county. You should check the status of your state’s record clearance law at the Collateral Consequences Resource Center website.

In general, what types of offenses are eligible for expungement or sealing?

Typically, some misdemeanors and low-level felonies are eligible for relief, but there are many exceptions. Consult the Collateral Consequences Resource Center website to find out what may be eligible for relief in your state.

Can I have my record expunged or sealed if I am currently awaiting sentencing or serving time in prison or jail?
Generally speaking, no. You should check the status of your state’s record clearance law at the Collateral Consequences Resource Center website


What is N.E.W.?

National Expungement Week (N.E.W.) is a week of events across the U.S. that offers expungement and other forms of legal relief to some of the 77 million Americans with convictions on their records. These convictions can restrict access to housing, employment, education, public assistance, and voting rights long after sentences have been served.  

When and where will N.E.W. events take place?

National Expungement Week 2019 (N.E.W. 19) will take place from September 21 - 28, with over 40 events in over 30 cities across the United States. For a complete list of cities and events, visit https://www.offtherecord.us/2019-events

Who’s behind N.E.W.?

N.E.W. represents a coalition of more than three dozen organizations working at the intersection of the cannabis industry, racial equity, and reparative justice, led by Equity First Alliance and Cage-Free Repair. For a complete list of participating organizations, please visit https://www.offtherecord.us/organizations

Who’s sponsoring N.E.W. ‘19?

N.E.W. is made possible by Presenting Sponsors Houseplant and Canopy Growth Corporation, dozens of local sponsors and partners, and the tireless work of community-based organizations dedicated to repairing harms of the War on Drugs. 

How long has N.E.W. been around?

The first N.E.W. was organized from October 20-27, 2018, with participating events in 15 cities across the country.

Can I just show up to a N.E.W. clinic to get my record expunged/sealed?  Do I need to bring documentation? If so, what kind?

Record clearance laws and policies differ greatly, state by state - sometimes even county by county. It’s important to consult the information on the flyer for the N.E.W. event near you to determine what kind of legal relief may be available, whether you need to pre-register for the event, and what documents (LiveScan, photo ID, etc.) you may need to bring to the clinic itself.

Are N.E.W. events only about expunging/sealing records?

N.E.W. events offer many wraparound services to restore people’s rights and lift up communities, including employment resources, voter registration, and health screenings. 

Is N.E.W. cannabis-specific?

No, anyone in need of expungement or record-sealing processing, education, or other supporting services is welcome at N.E.W. events.

Has N.E.W actually helped anyone clear their record?

So far N.E.W., is credited with leading 298 people to record clearing and sealing - resulting in a public benefit of over $3 million. One such person is Mauro Melgar, who applied for and received an expungement through a California N.E.W. event in 2018.  He talks about his experience here.  Besides legal relief, over 400 people also received related social services.

Is N.E.W. the only time that I can get my record expunged/sealed?

No. N.E.W. events have inspired teams of attorneys, organizers, and activists nationwide to continue to increase expungement opportunities whenever and wherever possible. To that end, the N.E.W. website provides a link to an online toolkit so communities can organize such events beyond the scope of the week.

Besides expungement and record sealing clinics, what else is happening during N.E.W. 19?

N.E.W.’s launch on September 21st coincides with Code For America’s National Day of Civic Hacking, and Code For America’s volunteer Brigades have chosen to focus on record clearance. Many Brigades are working with local N.E.W. organizers to combine live events with technological solutions to the challenges faced by people with criminal records. N.E.W. also coincides with National Voter Registration Day (September 24th), which highlights the need for voting rights restoration for all people.