Most states allow adults and juveniles to “expunge,” “seal,” or otherwise hide or destroy court records of convictions for some criminal offenses. When a criminal record is expunged, for many purposes it’s as though the conviction never happened, and you are legally entitled to say “No” when asked if you have a record for an expunged conviction. For example, sealing your record can mean that you will not have to reveal the conviction to a potential employer or landlord.
Each state has its own rules regarding record sealing, specifying which convictions qualify, which defendants may apply, and circumstances in which even sealed records may be accessed (when applying for certain jobs, for instance). In general, relatively low-level criminal offenses qualify, as do first-time offenders; and an absence of subsequent criminal activity is frequently a requirement. Many states also allow expungement of arrests and court proceedings in which the defendant prevailed. See the article for your state, below, for the details.