A clean criminal history is vital to securing employment, gaining admission to certain schools and even qualifying for a personal loan or mortgage. Many professional licensing entities will refuse admission to any candidate with a felony or misdemeanor conviction. Fortunately, under certain circumstances, minor brushes with the law may be sealed, or expunged, from public view as if the arrest and charge never occurred. If you have a one-time minor crime on your criminal record or were charged and never convicted, an expungement attorney can help you through the process and get you on your way to obtaining that job, professional license or loan.
How does the expungement process work?
There are a limited number of crimes that are eligible for an expungement. In general, many motor vehicle violations are eligible for expungement, and some are removed from a driver’s record automatically. Records of an arrest where no charges were filed may also be expunged automatically, although it is sometimes necessary to petition for the removal of an arrest record. Arrests resulting in a criminal charge may appear on your criminal history report, but are eligible for expungement under the following circumstances:
- You were found not guilty of the crime;
- The court dismissed the charge;
- You were given the opportunity to complete a probationary period prior to judgment, which you completed successfully
- The prosecuting office failed to progress with its case
- The conviction was for a misdemeanor charge
If any of the above conditions apply to your situation, an attorney with experience handling the expungement process can guide you through the paperwork and submissions necessary to successfully seal your arrest records from public view. In most cases, a petition must be filed for expungement at the district or trial court within the jurisdiction of your arrest. This petition should include your case number, arrest date, the identity of the law enforcement agency having effectuated your arrest and the date your case was finally disposed.
Expungement following conviction
If you were arrested, charged and convicted of a crime, the chances of winning a successful expungement may be much slimmer than if you were found not guilty. In some instances, an individual with a criminal conviction may be eligible for expungement of minor misdemeanor crimes, such as nuisance or reckless driving.
If you were convicted of a crime not expungeable under state law, it may be possible to petition the Board of Pardons to obtain a pardon of the crime; your attorney can help you through the complex pardon process. You may also be eligible to receive a conditional pardon, which allows you to receive a full pardon upon completion of several provisions. Receipt of a pardon is at the complete discretion of the Board and Governor and is decided based on a number of factors including the circumstances surrounding the crime, the behavior and rehabilitation of the offender, and the reason the pardon is needed.