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Expungement

Information on criminal record expungement

The process of erasing a criminal conviction from your permanent record is known as "expungement." A criminal record expungement is generally only available if the crime wasn't too serious in nature and if you have demonstrated a track record of good behavior ever since.

Because you are subject to certain restrictions if you have a criminal record, expungement is a very appealing possibility under numerous circumstances. For example, you may be forced to undergo a criminal background check for certain jobs and the conviction on your record will disqualify you from landing the position. Travel to certain countries is also much more difficult or even impossible if you have a criminal conviction on your record.

Some circumstances only allow for misdemeanor expungement, while felony expungement may be an option in others. If you're interested in an expungement, you need to understand the process and figure out whether or not you qualify.

Do You Qualify for a Criminal Record Expungement?

Four principal factors are used to determine your eligibility for expungement:

  • The severity of the crime you committed
  • The length of time that has passed between your conviction and your expungement application
  • Whether or not you have additional criminal convictions or pending charges
  • The severity of any additional convictions or pending charges

Expungement guidelines are set forth by state law. Thus, the exact regulations differ from state to state and you need to consult information that is specific to the place in which you live.

The Record Expungement Process

Typically, criminal defense lawyers or specialized expungement attorneys will handle these cases. It is highly recommended that you retain one to help you navigate the process.

The most important thing for you to understand is that record expungement is never automatically granted to anyone under any circumstances. There is no guarantee that your expungement application will be approved.

The process consists of a written application, which you will submit (or have your attorney submit) to a judge or justice of the peace for review. You will likely have to pay court fees. In some cases, the judge will ask you to attend a hearing so that he or she may more accurately determine whether or not you qualify for expungement. Attendance at this hearing is mandatory. The judge's decision regarding your expungement application is final and cannot be appealed, though you may reapply at a later date if you were denied.

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