Expungements are not an easy process. The possibility of having a crime expunged from your record will depend on the state where the crime was committed. Some states will only expunge specific charges, and only if those charges have retired or been dismissed. Receiving an expungement does require legal counsel for your defense to help you navigate the process. Keep reading to see if hiring an expungement lawyer is the right move for you.
What is an expungement?
An expungement is a form of legal action in which someone who was charged and convicted of a crime would like to have the conviction removed from their criminal record. It is the process of having these records sealed from the public such that the records can only be accessed by law enforcement. Every state will have its own process for expungement and which convictions may be expunged. Anyone who would like to have a conviction expunged should also know that certain criteria must be in place before a state considers expunging a record. A state can decide whether it is willing to expunge the records for minor convictions or convictions of those who are first-time offenders.
What are the benefits of expungement?
Even though the process can be a difficult one, there are benefits to expungement that anyone who is convicted should consider:
- Having a criminal record cleaned – There is nothing that can beat having a clean criminal record. This is one of the top benefits of expungement; the record is wiped clean. Not only is this peace of mind but also a chance to enjoy life without having a conviction hanging over your head.
- Cleared background check – Another benefit of having a conviction expunged is that this will clear your background checks by the public in the future. With the conviction removed from the record, you are able to apply for an apartment or submit a job application. These things can be done even with a conviction, but it looks more favorable for you if your public records do not show a conviction. Some college and grants programs and certification licensing boards may even do a background check, and having it come back clear will just look better and bring the person one step closer to being successful.
- Protects your privacy – It is also important to consider how expungement will protect the privacy of the individual. Lots of information is shared online, and anyone who can pay is able to do a background check on another person. Having your records sealed will stop prying eyes from knowing about you. This prevents coworkers, neighbors, or a landlord from finding out about your past.
What are some common expungements?
Some of the common expungements include:
- A DUI/DWI – One of the most common expungements that someone may request is a DUI expungement. This is the removal of an alcohol-related offense. Some states may allow this if it is the first infraction related to alcohol. However, the state may require a minimum time period since the offense, such as 10 years since the last occurrence. Chances of getting a DUI expungement are higher when there have been only one infraction and no other alcohol-related convictions since the first one.
- Misdemeanors – Depending on what the conviction is, some states have laws that those who have been convicted of a misdemeanor can have this removed from their criminal record. It is usually not all misdemeanors, and a lawyer will be able to tell you if your misdemeanor conviction qualifies. For example, misdemeanors such as tampering with an automobile, disturbing the peace, or public intoxication may be expunged from criminal records depending on the state that you live in.
- An arrest – It is possible to have information about an arrest removed from a criminal record in some states. This would only be the case if the arrest did not result in a court conviction. If someone is arrested but not charged, they may also qualify for expungement.
How can a criminal defense lawyer help?
Anyone seeking an expungement will need the services of a criminal defense lawyer. This type of lawyer is not just for someone who has been accused of a crime, but they can also help someone looking to have their criminal and arrest records cleared. Your attorney will be able to give more details on which convictions will qualify and the possibility of a successful expungement.