If I was arrested for having 1 marijuana cigarette 36 years ago, must I still disclose my criminal record?

UPDATED: Mar 20, 2013

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If I was arrested for having 1 marijuana cigarette 36 years ago, must I still disclose my criminal record?

I was 18 then; now I’m 54 years old. If I try to buy a firearm and do the background check, what do i answer to the question, “Have you ever been arrested for drugs?” I have been law abiding citixen since. Do I have any recource in this situation?

Asked on March 20, 2013 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As of right now, you have a criminal record; convictions do not just disappear over time. However, there is a legal remedy that can be employed by someone in just your situation. It is called "expungement" (or "sealing"). Basically, if you were a first-time offender with no subsequent criminal history, then you can petition the court to remove or "expunge" your record. While the rules for this vary from state-to-state, typically a misdemeanor such as this would be an one that could be cleared.

What you should do is to google  your state's name and the word "expungement". You should be able to obtain more information that way. If necessary, you can also contact a criminal law attorney in the area in which your arrest and conviction occurrred. While you can petition for expungment yourself you may just want to have an experienced professional do it for you.


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