Do you want to close the books on your past penalties? You might be eligible for a Record Clearing with expungement, but the laws differ from one state to another. Following, we are offering a brief guide on expungement of a criminal record, covering everything from definition to how to wipe your slate clean. So, stick till the end!
What is Expungement?
Expungement is a type of lawsuit that you bring to the court if you have a criminal history with only one conviction. The convicted asks the judge to make their criminal record unavailable in both state and federal records.
In case you win, your record is removed from several sources. However, it will be available to higher authorities including judges, immigration officials, and even correction facilities. So, you better research your local rules and regulations on record cleaning.
Expungement or Pardon?
No, expungement and pardon are two different things.
Expungement cleans your record of any criminal conviction. If you succeed, you can move around as you never had any conviction. The conviction won’t show up on regular criminal record check-up.
The Pardon is different; it stays on your record. It constitutes of forgiveness of your conviction but doesn’t remove it from your record. It always shows up as a part of your criminal history. Moreover, only a judge can issue the expungement, whereas, the President, Secretary of Statement, Attorney General, and Governor can issue a Pardon.
How to Expunge a Criminal Record?
Unless you know how to navigate through the legal system, you might want to hire a lawyer who will help you with your case.
Hiring a lawyer will benefit you in the long term. Following are a few examples of how the lawyer can help you:
- Advice on the possibility of winning your case
- Take care of documentation and filing
- Answer question related to the case
- Accompany you to the hearing
- Speak on your behalf
- Advocate for Expungement
What Do You Need to Know?
Expungement translates as the legal process of destroying, erasing or sealing records. Most States allow courts to seal or expungement conviction records. The details vary from one case to another while the laws differ from state to state.
Despite the difference, most states agree on one point That a record should be disclosed if it’s been expunged. This is very helpful when you want to apply for employment or rent a house or apartment. In case your arrest or conviction was covered by the news, there will be an online record. It will be affected by cleaning your record. The incident will be discussed over social media because it’s still out there.
Therefore, you should know that even an expunged record can show up and affect you. So, be careful!
Is Your Eligible for Expungement?
Before you make any plans, first find out whether you are eligible for expungement or not. Some states rarely allow expungement of accurate arrest or conviction records. They follow a process which is based on the following deciding factors:
Conviction or Arrest
Most states will expunge arrest records without conviction. If you were convicted, then you will have to fight harder.
Severity of Crime
Expungement is only allowed for minor offenses. There is no room for a violent felony or sex offense. In these cases, a pardon is your only hope.
There is a waiting period of 3-5 years. You have to wait for it before taking the next step.
Did You Honor Your Sentence?
Some sentences have a long probation period, and you will have to wait until the waiting period ends. Whatever you do, make sure you honor your sentence if you even want to hope of expungement in future. If you fail to honor your sentence, the court won’t even consider your appeal.
Was it Only a One Time Affair?
If it was only a one-time occurrence, your chances of success are high. But the court won’t seal your record if you are re-offending. Most states require the subject of expungement to be your first conviction.
Applying for Expungement
If you record is eligible for clearing, you might not need a lawyer at the first place. You can get the information online, and resources at court. But if you want ease and someone who takes care of the complex details, then you better hire a lawyer.
Things You Should Know
Expunging your record can set you free, but its far from a dream come true. Yes, you will have a clean record, but it won’t erase your history from the face of the earth. Even if you manage to get your record expunged, it will still show up from time to time and be used against you in the following cases or ways:
- Online: In case your arrest or conviction got media coverage, then there will be an online record which won’t be affected by the expungement. If the whole thing was discussed in media or online, it would remain there.
- Subsequent Charges or Sentence: Many offenses are charged as serious crimes if the defendant proves out to be a repeat offense. Sentences are augmented as well. Therefore, your record will be made available to the prosecutor and judge if you end up in criminal court after expungement.
- Job Application: If you are applying for a “Sensitive Job,” the employer can have access to your records although they were sealed. It is common when you apply for a government job, law enforcement job or especially if your job requires you to interact with children and vulnerable individuals.
Why Apply for Expungement?
No, you have been through the nuances of expunging a criminal record and what to expect afterward. The question that arises is, why should I go to all that trouble? Yes, you are not handed over a clean slate to start over again. Still, you are far better than getting your record expunged instead of living with it. Expunging your records allow you to:
Better Work Opportunities
If you ever did a job hunt, you know how hard it is to find good employment. Well, a criminal record will only make it even harder for you. If you ask, yes people with criminal records, to find gainful employment.
But they only do this to survive, if they had a better option, they would leave the odd job in a heartbeat. So, if you can expunge your record, do it to find better work with higher pay and better perks.
Graduate School is all you get if you land in a misdemeanor or felony. Admissions are already competitive enough; you don’t need a criminal record to make it even hard for you. So, clean your record and continue your education to improve your career path.
If you have a criminal record, you almost lost your voting rights. Yes, it seems rude, but this is how the legal system works. No one wants the opinion of a criminal. So, if you want your voting rights to be restored, you better expunge your criminal record.
No one wants to hand over a gun to someone with a criminal past. You cant even repair guns if you have a criminal history. Bid farewell to your hunting trips, or even driving around with your sidearm. You are not allowed to keep a butter knife so to speak. Expunging your record won’t restore your gun rights instantly, but it’s your first step in the right direction.
Better Residence Options
No one wants to go to bed knowing criminal life the next door. So, if you want to better resident options, you have to expunge your criminal records. Landlords do background checks on tenants, and they look into criminal records to be on the safe side. Finding a place that is safe, convenient and has facilities at an affordable price is hard enough. You don’t want to add to your troubles with the criminal record.
Getting your record clean makes you eligible for cheap insurance premiums. Yes, insurance rates are affected by criminal history, so you need to invest in an expungement lawyer to pay lower premiums.
You don’t want anyone to peak into your history. The expungement case keeps all intricate details of your mess-up locked up. Only people with high authority can access them, especially if you force their hand. So, if no one is bringing up the matter with evidence, you can legally deny or fail to acknowledge your previous history. Don’t worry; the law protects you!
Better Quality of Life
Getting your record clean helps you to lead a better life. It improves your quality of life as you are eligible for better perks at your job, society, insurance and even in your personal life. No one wants a convict or criminal in their life, be it your employer, landlord, significant other, etc.
So, you better wait for the waiting period to end and get your name cleared. It’s worth the effort!