In the current digital age, having a criminal record can lead to difficult and awkward moments. Potential employers might be hesitant to hire you, potential romantic spouses might be unwilling to meet you in person, and landlords may be uncertain about letting you rent their housing units. It's pretty clear that a criminal record or conviction for a minor charge can inflict mayhem in your personal life. However, it's not all despair and gloom for those convicted of crimes. The good news is that, depending on the specifics of your criminal case and the state in which you live in, you can actually conceal your criminal record through a process referred to as expungement.
What is Expungement
This is a process that involves sealing or hiding criminal arrests as well as conviction records. Each state has laws in place that allow citizens to edit out police arrests and also convictions from the history, however the details often differ from one state to another. After your conviction or arrest has been wiped out, state laws stipulate that it need not be revealed to landlords or potential employers. For instance, assume that you were arrested, indicted and convicted of minor theft, then afterwards had your criminal defence lawyer negotiate with the court to have your conviction erased or sealed. In the event that you are invited for a job interview and are asked whether you have previously been convicted of a criminal charge, then you are at liberty to say no. Nevertheless, note that expungement doesn't liken to abolition of the records. Instead, they are basically sealed and only opened with a court directive.
Does Your Criminal Record Qualify for Expungement?
Given that an expungement provides a fresh beginning of sorts, it is important that you ask your criminal defence lawyer whether your criminal indiscretions actually qualify or not. In most cases, the court takes into account the following factors to determine the eligibility of your conviction or arrest for expungement.
- Were you convicted of the charge levelled against you?
- How severe was the criminal offence?
- How long has it been since your last arrest or conviction?
- Have you adhered to the terms of your sentencing, diversion programme or probation?
- What is your past criminal record (if any)?
Those arrested and convicted of lesser offences or crimes often have an easier process to concealing these records. Minor offences attract diversion programmes, which allow for the concealing of records after an acceptable completion of the programme, However, not all crimes are entitled for expungement. For instance, in most states felony convictions as well as sex offences cannot be expunged. Further, arrests or convictions that are rather recent also do not qualify for editing. Additionally, if you are still serving a gaol term, probation or paying fines, then you cannot have your file expunged.
A criminal defence lawyer (like those at Andrew B Thiele & Co) can advise you whether your criminal records meet the criteria for expungement and how to apply for the process of expungement and ushering it through legal means.