It is common for those who have been arrested or convicted of a crime to be curious about whether there is any way for their record to be cleared.
Expungement is the court process by which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is erased in the eyes of the law. Every state has different laws that determine when expungement is allowed.
In Hawaii, you can apply to have an arrest expunged from your criminal history record if you are arrested or charged with, but not convicted of a crime.
Convictions do not quality for expungement in Hawaii except in two cases: Driving Under the Influence, Under the Age of Twenty-One conviction and First-Time Drug Related/Property Offender conviction.
Expungement will also NOT be issued in the following instances:
- Charges without final dispositions
- Charges with guilty dispositions, except for Driving Under the Influence, Under the Age of Twenty-One (HRS 291E-64), and First-Time Drug Related/Property Offender convictions (HRS 706-622.5, HRS 706-622.8, and HRS 706-622.9)
- For a period of five years after arrest or citation in the case of a petty misdemeanor or violation where conviction has not been obtained because of a bail forfeiture
- Charges resulting in acquittals by reason of insanity or mental incapacity.
- Charges with less than one (1) year from dismissal of a deferred acceptance of guilty or no contest pleas
- Prostitution (HRS 712-1200) charges with less than four (4) years from dismissal of deferred acceptance of guilty or no contest pleas
The expungement process takes up to 120 days. The fee is $35.00 for a First-Time expungement and $50.00 for a Non-First-Time Expungement.
If your charge does not qualify for expungement, $10 will be kept as a non-refundable administrative fee and the remaining fee will be returned to you along with the expungement form.
If your charge is approved to be expunged, your Expungement Certificate will be mailed upon completion. The certificate will state which arrests have been expunged from your criminal record.
Note that while the terms “expunged” and “sealed” are often used interchangeably, they refer to two different processes. “Expunging” means that the records are completely, physically destroyed, deleted, or erased. “Sealing” is when criminal records are hidden from the general public.
In Hawaii, expungements and sealing are handled by separate government entities. Expungement of an arrest record is handled by the Department of the Attorney General through the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center.
Expungements are for arrest records only as court records and traffic abstracts cannot be “expunged” in the same way the Department of the Attorney General can expunge arrest records. Generally, court records are never erased, however they can be sealed and made confidential, through a court order.
David Sereno has handled motions to set aside arrest records and seal court records. If you have questions about whether your arrest qualifies for expungement or would like us to take care of the process for you, please contact our office.