The stigma of a criminal record is one of the most critical and well-documented barriers to successful reintegration into the community.
Significant evidence supports the notion that relief from the burden of a criminal record leads to improved outcomes.
In Nebraska, an adult’s criminal conviction record cannot be erased unless a pardon is granted.
However, the law permits some individuals to have their criminal convictions “set-aside.” But what does it mean to set-aside a conviction?
A set-aside conviction is an official indication that you have served your sentence and have been completely rehabilitated, although it does not remove the conviction from your record.
I always like to be clear about what a set aside does and does not do. A set aside does not remove the conviction from your record but rather a potential employer doing a criminal background check will see both the conviction and the order which “sets aside” that conviction.
Some employers disregard the conviction and others still count it. However, you do get a court order that specifically says the conviction is “set aside and nullified”.
It is difficult to gauge if a set aside will have any beneficial effect for your future employment prospects.
If you wish to learn more about setting aside a criminal conviction, please contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law at 402-512-5558 for help.
Nebraska Eligibility and Procedure
Conviction Set-Aside Meaning
Under Nebraska Revised Statute § 29-2264, you can petition the court for an order “setting aside” or nullifying a conviction. This indicates that you completed your sentence and are rehabilitated.
However, a set-aside does not remove your conviction. Instead, it adds a notation that the record is set-aside.
Eligibility in Nebraska
In most cases, Nebraska law provides that you are eligible to have your criminal conviction set-aside in the following circumstances:
- You were placed on probation, and you completed the terms of your probation;
- You were sentenced to community service and completed it;
- You were sentenced to one year or less in jail and have completed your sentence; or
- Your sentence was a fine only, and you paid it.
The judge that initially sentenced you can order the conviction set-aside. However, eligibility does not guarantee that the judge will approve the set-aside order, as the decision is largely discretionary.
Application to Set-Aside Conviction
Generally, you can only apply for a set-aside after you have completed your sentence. However, in certain circumstances, completing probation is not a necessary prerequisite.
For instance, the completion of probation might not be necessary if you were convicted of prostitution because you were a victim of human trafficking.
Individuals who want to petition for a set-aside should consult with an attorney to ensure that they abide by all steps of the application process.
The set-aside process includes the following steps:
- Collecting all necessary documents related to your criminal history,
- Completing the set-aside petition form,
- Making copies of all documents,
- Filing the petition,
- Sending a copy of the petition to the prosecutor, and
You must include the following information:
- Date of your offense,
- The details of the actual criminal charge,
- The outcome of the criminal charge,
- Sentence, and
- Documentation that you completed your sentence.
Notably, many Nebraska courts have local rules that may apply to set-aside petitions.
Denial of Set-Aside Petition
The law provides that a court must deny a set-aside petition in the following situations:
- You have a pending criminal charge in any domestic or international court;
- During any period you are required to register as a sex offender;
- In cases involving misdemeanor or felony motor vehicle offenses resulting in motor vehicle homicide; or
- Within two years of a denial of a set-aside petition.
Set-asides are a vital aspect of moving forward after a criminal conviction. Accordingly, individuals should consult with and retain an attorney to ensure that they meet the requirements.
Learn More About How You Can Improve Your Criminal Record Through a Set-Aside
If you have a criminal record that is made up of one or more older convictions, you may be eligible to set-aside your prior convictions.
At Petersen Criminal Defense Law, our Nebraska criminal defense attorney has extensive experience helping clients navigate all aspects of the criminal justice system—including setting aside convictions.
He understands the complex legal requirement to obtain a set-aside and what it takes to show that his clients have been rehabilitated.