Petition to Set Aside a Criminal Conviction

Petition to Set Aside a Criminal Conviction


An adult’s criminal conviction cannot be erased.  It can be pardoned or set-aside, but it WILL NOT be erased.  Once there is a conviction on your record, it always will be on your record.

pardon is a formal forgiveness granted by the Board of Pardons. See their site for more information and an application.

set-aside is an order by the judge who sentenced you in a criminal case which voids the conviction.   As part of the decision to set-aside a criminal conviction, a judge must believe that it is in your best interest to do so and that setting aside the conviction is “consistent with the public welfare.”  The decision is discretionary, which means it is completely decided by the judge.   While the set-aside does not erase a criminal record, the order setting aside the conviction is added to the criminal record.  

Since a criminal conviction affects your ability to get a job, a potential employer doing a criminal background check will see the conviction and the order which sets aside that conviction.

If you have multiple convictions, you will submit a request to set aside each conviction separately. You may have a set aside request approved for one conviction but not all of your convictions.  

Facts About Filing Forms to request a Conviction Set Aside in Nebraska

Many courts have specific local rules that may apply if you want to request a set aside.   Check with the Clerk of the District Court or County Court in your county.  If you fail to follow the local rules, it may affect the desired outcome from your request. Both felony and misdemeanor criminal convictions can be set aside.  

You are eligible to have your conviction set aside if:

  • you were placed on probation and you successfully completed the terms of your probation;
  • you were sentenced to community service and successfully 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 the fine.

However, being eligible does not guarantee a set aside will be approved by the judge. 

A petition for set aside shall be denied if filed:

  • By any person with a criminal charge pending in any court in the United States or in any other country;
  • During any period in which the person is required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act;
  • For any misdemeanor or felony motor vehicle offense resulting in Motor Vehicle Homicide or
  • Within two years after a denial of a petition to set aside a conviction under this subsection.

Before setting aside a criminal conviction a judge will also consider these factors:

  • Whether you had any criminal convictions since the conviction you want the judge to set aside and the types of convictions.
  • Whether it appears likely you will remain law-abiding in the future.
  • The length of time between your last criminal offense and your request for a set aside.

Information Needed to Request a Conviction Set-Aside

  • The date of the offense
  • The actual criminal charge
  • The outcome of the criminal charge (guilty, not guilty)
  • Your sentence (probation, fine, jail)
  • Whether you completed your sentence

If you do not have copies of your court record, you can get information regarding your criminal history by:

  • Obtaining a copy of your criminal history through the Nebraska State Patrol. (There is a small charge to get your record.)
  • Doing a one-time court case search of Nebraska Court records. (There is a small charge to get your record, but it may not be a complete record.)
  • Going to the courthouse(s) where you may have convictions and using the public access terminal to get information on your record. There will be a charge for copies provided to you by the court.

Forms and Filing
If you have multiple convictions, you need to file a separate form for each conviction you wish to have set aside.

Filing the Forms

  • File the original petition with the clerk of court where the original conviction was filed.
  • Keep one copy for yourself.
  • Serve the prosecutor by giving her/him a copy.

Individuals that do not have an attorney may file documents with the court in person, by mail, or by fax transmission. (Neb. Ct. R. § 6-601(B), allows non-attorneys to file any pleading, motion or other document, except for briefs in the appellate courts, by fax transmission until May 1, 2024.)

If you want to fax a court document, you must include the uniform cover sheet as the first page.  The fax must be less than 10 pages not counting the cover sheet.  If you want to fax more than 10 pages, you must get approval from the clerk of the court before you send it. 

Your case may have been filed by a City Prosecutor OR a County Attorney. The prosecutor will be stated on your original complaint, or on the criminal history or court case search. You can “serve” the prosecutor by sending him/her a copy of the petition in the mail or by dropping a copy off at his/her office. If the prosecutor has an office in the courthouse, you may want to drop off the copy for the prosecutor at that office on the same day you file your petition.

You have now “served” and filed your petition.

The clerk’s office will schedule your petition for hearing. When it is scheduled, the clerk will mail you a copy of a notice stating the hearing date and time.

Court Hearing on Petition to Set Aside a Conviction


  • Appear at the hearing early. BE ON TIME.
  • It is likely that your case will be set on a court “call” calendar at the same time and in the same courtroom as many other cases. There may not be a particular order in which cases are called. You may spend an entire morning or afternoon in court waiting for your case to be called. Be prepared to wait.
  • When the judge calls your name, approach the bench. The “bench” is where the judge sits. The prosecutor probably also will be at the bench. You usually can tell who a prosecutor is because that attorney will be at the bench for every case called by the judge.
  • When you approach the bench, be respectful. Do not argue with the judge.
  • At the end of your presentation, the judge may or may not have questions for you.
  • This is not a hearing to prove your innocence at the original trial. It is just a hearing to set aside a conviction. You are not asking for a re-trial. This is not your chance to argue about the original conviction or charges. This is your chance to ask the court to “set aside” a conviction because it is interfering with your ability to work, get housing, or go to school.
  • The judge will ask the prosecutor for his/her opinion.
    • The prosecutor may not have any objection. If the prosecutor does not want the court to set aside your conviction, he or she will object and will tell the judge why. DO NOT INTERRUPT THE PROSECUTOR WHILE HE OR SHE IS TALKING.
    • If the prosecutor does have an objection, the judge probably will give you a chance to respond to the prosecutor.
    • If the judge does not give you that chance, wait until the prosecutor is finished speaking and politely ask the judge if you can respond to what the prosecutor said.
    • If the judge says “no,” the judge means “no.”

The prosecutor and judge have access to your criminal record. This record will contain all the criminal charges and convictions you have ever had. For example, traffic tickets, driving without insurance, disturbing the peace. If all these events happened before the conviction you are asking the court to set aside, the court may not be concerned about those events.

The criminal record will influence the judge. If you have had other charges and convictions since the conviction for the offense you want set aside, the court will be concerned and will take those events in to account.

At the end of a hearing, the judge will enter an order. In most counties a copy of the order will be provided to you after the hearing – often by mail. Check with your Clerk of Court to see how you will receive your copy of the order. Some courts may require you to provide an order for the judge’s signature: Court Order to Set Aside a Criminal Conviction (CC 6:11(2)).

It will take a few days after the hearing for computers to be updated and the note “set aside” to appear in the JUSTICE record and your criminal history.

An order will contain the language that the conviction is “nullified,” meaning it was cancelled out. You can show this order to potential employers to prove that your conviction was nullified.