If you have a criminal record, it can make things quite complicated for you later in life. More and more today, businesses and employers are conducting background checks on applicants. If a landlord or employer finds that you have been arrested or convicted in the past, it can be difficult or even impossible to secure a home or job.
What Does it Mean to Expunge Records or to Set Aside?
If you have a criminal record, do not fret. You may able to erase, or seal, arrests or convictions from your record through a process known as expungement. While the details pertaining to expungement vary from one state to another, when you have your records sealed, you do not have to disclose them to such persons as landlords or employers. Expungement has other known names and meanings, such as Set Aside and Restoration of Rights.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
Expungement procedures and eligibility requirements vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Thus, it is best to check with your county’s clerk of court to find out if you are eligible and what you need to do. You do not necessarily need to hire a lawyer to request an expungement. You simply need to fill out and submit a “Motion for Expungement.”
Most jurisdictions only allow for misdemeanor arrests and convictions to be expunged. Additionally, you can only request to seal your records after you have finished serving your sentence and probation. However, if you have a good reason for wanting your records sealed, you may be able to get your probation shortened.
What is a Certificate of Actual Innocence?
A Certificate of Actual Innocence is a form of expungement that not only seals your records, but it also states that they should have never even existed. This is a great option in cases where you were found not guilty or your charges were dropped at a later date. This certificate shows that you were innocent of the offense in question.
Offenses That are Easiest to Expunge
In most jurisdictions, if you were arrested or convicted of a drug or juvenile crime, you will have an easy path to expungement. The reason that drug offenses are easily expunged is because in most cases, you will be eligible for a diversion program, which usually provides for an automatic expungement once you complete the classes.
Juvenile offenses are often easily expunged after you turn 18. In fact, some jurisdictions automatically seal records after you turn a certain age. However, felonies cannot be expunged, and for you to seal your records, you cannot have any arrests or convictions after your juvenile offenses.
Is Expungement Always Beneficial?
In most cases, expungement is highly beneficial. However, there are a few cases in which your records can be accessed even if you had them sealed. Examples of this are if you choose to apply for a professional license or if you want to work in the field of law enforcement. With so many fantastic benefits though, expungement is certainly a great way to begin a new life. At DM Cantor, we have helped hundreds of people with this process. Check out our Expungement Victories section of our website.