Having a record expunged after a criminal case can make a great deal of difference in somebody's life. A criminal record, no matter how mild, can haunt you in multiple ways for years. It's possible to have your record expunged, but there's some very specific criteria that can make it difficult. Here's what you need to know.
Why Expungement Is Important
A criminal record can prevent you from achieving goals. Even if you don't serve any time, just having an arrest on your record can and will show up in background checks. A criminal record can hurt you in both obvious and subtle ways. Any criminal record can make the following things more difficult:
- Finding a job
- Finding a house
- Applying for a loan
There's also the stigma that comes with having a criminal record. For example, when you fill out a job application and it asks if you had previous convictions, you may feel hesitant to answer it.
Maybe you're embarrassed or don't want other people knowing your personal business. Maybe you don't want to have to explain the situation to a veritable stranger. With an expunged record, you don't have to fill in that part of an application.
Who Can Have their Records Expunged?
How expungement works can vary from state to state. However, it's possible to pursue expungement or record sealing in most places. Generally, the people exempt from the possibility of expungement can include:
- Repeat offenders
- Those who were arrested or convicted while going through the expungement process
- Those convicted of special felonies such as sexually based crimes
Different areas will have different criteria as to what they will expunge or not. Don't automatically assume courts won't expunge your particular arrest or charge.
How to Have Your Record Expunged
Before you can have your record expunged, you'll have to check your eligibility. You can search online, but you can also call directly into your jurisdiction's court for more information. The expungement process typically requires you to file an official request with the court.
You can, and should, contact an attorney. The expungement process requires you follow your state's rules for expungement very closely. If you go about the process incorrectly, you can forever ruin your chances to have your criminal record expunged.
An attorney can tell you how the process works where you live and whether or not you're eligible for it. They can also help to guide you through the steps required to make your criminal record expungement a reality. For more information, contact local professionals like those found at Goodman Katz Koonce & Maroc.