How Long Does a Felony Stay On Your Record? (The 1 Big Exception)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | September 13, 2022

How long does a felony stay on your record, a man wonders while looking at an employment background check online with showing 20 years, with pictures of inmates and recently arrested people on the computer screen while scratching his chin and wondering will a felony show up on a background check after 10 years?

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Many people undergoing a background check often wonder, “how long does a felony stay on your record?”

Because different crimes garner different levels of punishments, the same is true for what shows up on a background check. Since felonies are the most serious crime, these tend to stay on the record longer than other infractions.

But, there is one big exception about how long a felony can stay on someone’s record…whether or not the felony has been ‘expunged,’ which seals it from the record and prevents it from showing up on a criminal background check.

Although traditionally, an expunged crime is one that is ‘erased’ from the criminal record, when considering felonies, many states now allow former convictions to apply for expungement, which although it doesn’t erase the record for good, it does prevent the conviction from appearing on employment background checks.

This means it would also not show on a pre employment background check which can save someone from failing a background check after a job offer is already given.

But keep in mind that even as more and more states increase the ability to expunge felonies, some felonies can never be erased from the record.

However, there are a number that can if they meet certain conditions, such as:

  • The time frame outlined by state law since the felony occurred
  • Severity of the crime
  • Whether or not it was a first offense
  • And whether additional felonies have resulted in convictions

This guide explains the state statutes and time limits related to having felony charges removed from the criminal record, and outlines how long the ones that can’t be erased are reported on out of state background checks (also known as level 2 checks and federal background checks).

And, of course, anyone can run a criminal background check on themselves to find out whether the felony will show up as well.

How Long Does A Felony Stay On Your Record? Is Your Criminal Record Forever?

Many felony charges, such as robbery, manslaughter, drug trafficking, or reckless driving are reported on a criminal history check, but the answer to how long does a felony stay on your record depends on the state and other factors.

Crimes that cannot be erased a generally violent, such as murder and crimes involving children.

 

However, even without any action, there are 11 states where felony convictions will be ‘removed’ from showing up on a person’s criminal record after seven years, regardless of the charge.1 This is because these states have limits on background checks, preventing neighbors, friends, family and potential employers from accessing criminal records prior to that time.

But, in the other 39 states, felony crimes stay on the person’s permanent record (and show up on a background check) unless the person has it expunged by the court system.

Unlike a misdemeanor or a civil conviction, a felony charge remains available for law enforcement agencies to access, and many background checks will report them.

States that Allow Felony Charges to Be Expunged and Sealed and States that Prevent Felonies from Being Sealed

The fact remains that all states have their own laws concerning criminal and judicial activity. Although some federal laws are applied universally, over the past few decades, more and more states have overridden federal law to enact their own values.

Therefore, some states allow ‘some’ felonies to be sealed using the expungement process, while others do not. The following table outlines which ones:

States Where No Felony Can be ExpungedStates that Allow Some Felonies to Be ExpungedStates Where Most Felonies can be Expunged
MontanaWisconsinUtah
NebraskaCaliforniaOregon
TexasColoradoWashington State
ArizonaNevada
Iowa

For states that do allow a felony to be expunged (sealed), there are usually stipulations that must be met before the record is cleared. Common conditions include:

  • A specific waiting period (usually a certain number of months or years after the felony occurred)
  • A spotless record since the felony was committed (conviction)
  • Fulfilling all sentencing, probation, and other punishments issued by the court
  • Paying all fines and fees ordered
  • Completing the rigorous and detailed expungement application process (which typically requires the assistance of a legal professional)

And, keep in mind that this type of sealing doesn’t erase the record, it simply removes the felony from public records. Therefore, law enforcement agencies may still see it (such as for federal background checks or government jobs).

How Long Does A Felony Charge Stay On Your Record In Any State?

How long does a felony stay on your record? The law varies depending on where the crime was committed, which can influence the duration of how long the felony charge is on the person’s criminal record.

For individuals who are worried, conducting a free criminal background check can provide the answer to what will show up. The following table provides links to state laws concerning felony sealing, including the number of years it will stay on the record.

How Long A Felony Lasts in Each StateState Law Number of Years a Felony Stays on Your Record 
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in AlabamaAlabama Statute122 years for misdemeanors, 5 years for felonies
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in AlaskaAlaska Statute13Indefinitely
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in ArizonaArizona Statute14Until the person is 99 years old
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in ArkansasArkansas Statute155 years before it can be expunged
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in CaliforniaCalifornia Statute16Indefinitely
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in ColoradoColorado Statute173 years after disposition or release
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in ConnecticutConnecticut statute187 years
10 years for Class D or E felonies
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in DelawareDelaware Statute195 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in FloridaFlorida Statute207 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in GeorgiaGeorgia Statute214 years

7 years for violent and sex-related felonies

How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in HawaiiHawaii Statute227 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in IdahoIdaho Statute23 5 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in IllinoisIllinois Statute24Indefinitely
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in IndianaIndiana Statute258 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in IowaIowa Statute268 years
or
180 days after dismissed or deferred cases
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in KansasKansas Statute272 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in KentuckyKentucky Statute285 Years after the persons’ sentence is completed or parole ends
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in LouisianaLouisiana Statute2910 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MaineMaine Statute30Indefinitely
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MarylandMaryland Statute31Indefinitely
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MassachusettsMassachusetts Statute327 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MichiganMichigan Statute3310 Years2
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MinnesotaMinnesota Statute345 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MississippiMississippi Statute355 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MissouriMissouri Statute367 years before it can be expunged
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in MontanaMontana Statute575 years
10 years for rape
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in LouisianaLouisiana Statute2910 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in NebraskaNebraska Statute3710 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in NevadaNevada Statute385 years Category B-E felony
10 years Category A felony
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in New HampshireNew Hampshire Statute395 years Class B felonies
10 years Class A felonies
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in New JerseyNew Jersey Statute 4010 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in New MexicoNew Mexico Statute 416 years Fourth-degree felonies
8 years second-degree
10 years first-degree
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in New YorkNew York Statute 427 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in North CarolinaNorth Carolina Statute 4310 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in North DakotaNorth Dakota Statute 445 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in OhioOhio Statute 583 years after one felony
4 years for two felonies
5 years for 3-5 felonies
Indefinitely for Felony convictions F-4 or F-5
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in OklahomaOklahoma Statute 4510 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in OregonOregon Statute 4610 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Statute 4710 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in Rhode IslandRhode Island Statute 4810 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in South CarolinaSouth Carolina Statute 4920 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in South DakotaSouth Dakota Statute 505 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in TennesseeTennessee Statute 515 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in TexasTexas Statute 523 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in UtahUtah Statute 597 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in VermontVermont Statute 5310 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in VirginiaVirginia Statute 54Indefinitely
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in WashingtonWashington Statute 555 years before it can be expunged
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in West VirginiaWest Virginia Statute 563 years
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in WisconsinWisconsin Statute 6075 years Class A felony
50 years Class B – I felony
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in WyomingWyoming statute 6110 years

Having a felony and criminal conviction can harm a person’s life in many ways. Not only will they have a criminal charge on their permanent record, but it can hurt their financial standing, employment opportunities, and travel options.5 

Related Reading: How to Get a Copy of My Criminal Record

How Long Does A Federal Felony Stay On Your Record?

Varying circumstances will affect the answer to “how long does a felony stay on your record?” There are different types of felonies that can affect how long they stay on a person’s record. 6

Knowing the difference between a felony charge and a felony conviction is key to seeing what a person is charged with and how long it may stay on their record.

Felony CrimeYears the Felony Will Show up on a Background Check
Drug Violation7 Years
Aggravated AssaultIndefinitely
Assault5 Years (before the record can be sealed)
Domestic ViolenceIndefinitely
Grand Theft Auto7 Years
Forgery7 Years
BurglaryIndefinitely
Violent CrimesIndefinitely
Child Crimes (any crime involving a child)Indefinitely
KidnappingIndefinitely

Classes of Felonies:7

  • Felony A — Class A felonies are the most serious crimes that have the longest prison sentences and the highest fines. Class A felonies include armed robbery, manslaughter, murder, arson, and burglary and include crimes that have sexual violence, such as rape.
    • Maximum prison term: Life imprisonment or death
    • Maximum fine: $250,000 (average fine $50,000)
    • Probation: 1-5 years
    • Maximum supervised release term 5 years
  • Felony B — Class B felonies are the second most serious type of crime that involve crimes against a person or illegal possession. The most common Class B felony crimes involve aggravated sexual assault, reckless homicide, and manslaughter.
    • Maximum prison term: 25 years+ (average 8-30 years)
    • Maximum fine: $250,000 (average fine $25,000)
    • Probation: 1-5 years
    • Maximum supervised release term: 5 years
  • Felony C — Class C felonies are the third tier of serious crimes that involve crimes such as robbery, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault.
    • Maximum prison term: 10-25 years (average 3-15 years)
    • Maximum fine: $250,000 (average fine $10,000)
    • Probation: 1-5 years
    • Maximum supervised release time: 3 years
  • Felony D — Class D felonies typically carry jail time of 2-10 years and include crimes like extortion, reckless homicide, and unlawful surveillance. 8
    • Maximum prison term: 5-10 years (average 2-12 years)
    • Maximum fine: $250,000 (average fine $5,000)
    • Probation: 1-5 years
    • Maximum supervised release time: 3 years
  • Felony E — Class E felonies are the least severe of all felonies, typically carrying between 1-5 years in prison and fines of just up to $3,000. The most common Class E felonies include illegal possession of a handgun and theft of a firearm 9.
    • Maximum prison term: 1-5 years
    • Maximum fine: $250,000 (average fine $3,000).
    • Probation term: 1-5 years
    • Maximum supervised release time: 1 year

Will A Felony Show Up On a Background Check After 10 Years?

Individuals who have been charged with a felony in the past may wonder if this will show up on a background check after 10 years. The short answer is yes — but it depends on the check. Since a felony conviction can typically last indefinitely on a person’s record, the employer’s specific time frame of the check (and state law) will determine if they find the felony on the record.

Knowing what will or will not appear on a background check and the answer to “how long does a felony stay on your record,” is just a matter of searching the type of crime and the state where it was committed.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record

Will a 20-year-old felony show on a background check?

A felony will show indefinitely on a background check, so a 20-year-old felony will show on a person’s record for the rest of their life.

Does a felony show up on a background check after 7 years?

A felony will show on a background check after 7 years unless it has been expunged or the records have been sealed.

How long will a felony show on a background check?

A felony will show on a background check indefinitely unless the person has had their records sealed or expunged.10

How long does a felony conviction stay on your record?

A felony conviction will stay on a person’s criminal record indefinitely if nothing is done to remove it from the record. However, if the person has been unlawfully charged and they are innocent, they can take the necessary steps to have the conviction removed to expunge the charges.

Will a Class D Felony Show Up on a Background Check after 10 years?

All felonies will be reported on a background check, regardless of the class of felony. However, the FCRA allows felony arrests only to be included on background checks of up to 7 years. If the person was convicted, it will show on their record forever.11

In other words, the normal rules for 10 year background check states do not apply.

Is a DUI a Felony?

Driving while under the influence or driving while intoxicated can be considered a misdemeanor or felony. If the DUI were classified as a felony, it would remain on a person’s record forever. If the DUI was classified as a misdemeanor, it could be expunged by filing a petition for expungement. Regardless it will show up on a MVR report.

Is Theft a Felony?

First and second-degree theft is considered a felony offense, whereas third-degree theft is a gross demeanor.

Can I Get a Felony Expunged?

Individuals can get a felony expunged from their record if they meet the specific criteria of the state in which they were charged and petition the court for the expungement of their record.

Will a Felony Harassment Order Show On My Criminal Record?

It depends on the reason for the harassment order as well as if the order of protection was violated which led to further criminal charges. Learn more: does a harassment order go on your record?

How Long Can a Felony Remain in Pending Status?

How long can a felony charge be pending after a crime is committed? The answer depends on several factors including where the charges where filed and what crime was committed.


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61Wyoming Legislature. (2022). Title – 6, Crimes and Offenses. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from <https://wyoleg.gov/statutes/compress/title06.pdf>

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