Laws regarding sealing of records are mostly governed by state laws and vary by state. Most states allow for sealing of juvenile records in certain instances. Often the sealing of records is made after proof of a period of upstanding citizenship, such as no offenses in the prescribed period of time. Some states allow records to be sealed automatically upon the attainment of a certain age, other laws require a petition for sealing be made to the court with jurisdiction over the records.

In some instances, social welfare and other records may be sealed, besides court records. In most cases, the records may be unsealed upon the order of the court to aid in prosecuting later offenses related to the subject person of the records, or when the subject person commits a subsequent crime. Matters contained in sealed records may also be required to be disclosed in certain instances, such as in an application for employment as a police officer or state employee. Also, records related to adoptions are often sealed.