Posted on: 25 May 2021Share
Criminal record expungement law exists to give folks a fair chance to get on with their lives after they've paid their debts to society. The process, however, can pose some challenges, and it's wise to hire a criminal record expungement attorney to help you navigate it. You'll also want to know these key things about the expungement process.
What Happens to Your Record?
Presuming the court grants the petition for expungement, two critical things will happen. First, the court will seal the records of the accompanying arrest and conviction for the charge. Second, the judge will order the state to remove the entries from its database for criminal background checks. Notably, this does not mean the conviction goes away entirely. There are scenarios where a judge can allow law enforcement officials to look under the seal and see the contents. Generally, the law enforcement need has to be material to a serious investigation. However, only the courts can order this, and only law enforcement agencies can ask.
This means that the general public will have no awareness of the conviction. If an employer looks a person up, it will come back with no record of the related arrest or conviction. Also, you can legally state that you don't have a conviction on your record when you fill out forms for employment, government aid, or housing. In other words, you can check "no" next to the question that asks, "Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?"
Is Expungement Available for Every Case?
In the strictest sense, you have the legal right to ask for expungement regardless of the offense. However, the judge has the discretion to decide whether it would be in society's best interests for the record of a conviction to remain. For example, a judge might not accept a petition from someone convicted of abusing children or the elderly. Similarly, a judge might not approve the expungement of a record involving a violation of the public trust, such as a county official convicted of embezzling funds.
In most instances, though, expungement is an option. Someone convicted of marijuana possession, for example, would stand a good chance as long as the conviction didn't include aggravating circumstances. An aggravating factor would be something like a gun-related violent felony. Also, you should make sure everything is squared away before you apply. The court will rarely grant expungement if you owe any restitution or fines. Likewise, you'll want to make sure you track down every conviction and where it occurred. This allows you to make sure you catch everything.
Reach out to a criminal record expungement attorney for more assistance.