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How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record – A State by State Overview

A felony record is given for a serious crime that typically involves violence, it can make your life much more difficult.  A felony will remain on your record permanently unless you take action to have it expunged.  In the United States the ability to expunge a felony record can depend on a multitude of factors ranging from:

  • Which state the record exists in
  • What type of felony it is, you are much more likely to be able to expunge a record if it involves:
  • Arrest records/dropped or dismissed charges
  • Infractions, non-violent crimes, or lower level misdemeanors
  • Juvenile offenses
  • Time since the felony was committed

Additional Reading: How to check to see if a felony is still on your record.

Are there any felonies that cannot be expunged off of a record?

Even in the most lenient states that allow you to expunge records the easiest, there are still felonies that cannot be removed from your record. 

Typically these will include:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Arson, Terrorism, and Capital Offenses
  • Typically any crimes that carry a penalty of life in prison

State by State Felony Expungement Timeline Overview

There are 5 broad categories that each state falls into dictating how they deal with felony and misdemeanor record expungement.

States with the Broadest Felony & Misdemeanor Expungement Rules

In these states most felony convictions (except for certain violence or sex related felonies) and all misdemeanors are available to be expunged from your record.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Washington

States with Limited Felony & Misdemeanor Expungement Rules

In these states you will have very limited felony conviction relief, but broad misdemeanor relief.  In these states you are most likely to be able to have your felonies expunged by first having them reduced to a misdemeanor.

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

States that Allow for Expungement of Misdemeanors & Pardoned Felonies Only

In these states you will be able to have misdemeanors expunged from your record, and in the rare case that you are able to get a pardon from the governor that felony can also be expunged.

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota

States that Allow for Expungement of Misdemeanors Only

These states allow for the expungement of misdemeneaors only.

  • Washington DC
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

States With No Expungement or Record Sealing

These states do not allow for any expungement or record sealing.

  • Federal
  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Wisconsin

How can a felony affect my employment

Currently there are 13 states that don’t allow for employers to ask about prior convictions in job applications.  The are California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Illinois, Montana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

How long does a DUI stay on my record?

Depending on where you are from a DUI can remain on your criminal and driving record for a period of 5 years, 10 years, or may not be able to be removed at all.  A DUI on your driving record can lead to higher costs, employment difficulties, and license suspension. 

People who hire a DUI lawyer are 3 times more likely to get a DUI charged reduced or removed.

View our DUI expungement laws by state.

Does expunging a record completely remove it?

When you have something expunged from your criminal record, it is removed from public databases and views.  This does not mean that it is completely removed as it can still be seen by certain government agencies.  Sometimes this can result in expunged records becoming public through leaks in these government agencies.

Some states may not fully expunge a record and will still allow it to be seen by public view with a notation indicating that the record has been sealed, set-aside, dismissed, or rights have been restored.  While this

What is the difference between sealing a record and expungement?

The difference is accessibility, a record that is sealed can still be accessed as it still exists in the public record and can be viewed by parties with access. This is in contrast to an expunged record which is a record that is deleted entirely from the system.