Consider Expungement to Erase Arrest & Criminal Records

Posted April 8, 2010 in Criminal Law by

The lousy economy and high unemployment rates mean that companies which are hiring have their choice of top-notch job candidates. Unfortunately, this also means that if you have any kind of black mark on your record, an employer might pass you over for another candidate.

If you have been arrested but not convicted, or if you were convicted of a juvenile crime, a misdemeanor or a minor felony offense, you may be able to get your criminal record expunged. When a record is expunged, it is sealed or erased. After expungement, your conviction or arrest usually will not appear when an employer, school or government agency conducts a background search.

How to Get an Expungement

In most circumstances, expungement does not occur automatically. You will usually have to apply for expungement, and may have to pay a fee to have your criminal or arrest record expunged.

If you were convicted of a crime, there will be a waiting period before expungement is permitted. If you were acquitted (or found not guilty) of a criminal charge, most states will allow you to have the records sealed immediately.

If you were arrested or convicted as a juvenile, you may be able to ask for expungement five years after your arrest or conviction, or as soon as you reach the age of majority (which is 18 years old in most states).

You need to read carefully the expungement laws in the state where you were arrested or convicted to see when and how you can have your records expunged. If you have any questions, talk to an experienced criminal law attorney to make sure everything is done properly.

Benefits of Expungement

There are several reasons why you should seek to have your record expunged:

  • When seeking a job, housing or a professional license, an applicant whose criminal record is sealed or destroyed can, in some states, legally assert that he doesn’t have a criminal history
  • If a record has been expunged, a background search by an employer, educational institution or government agency into your public records won’t reveal a conviction or arrest

Expungement or sealing of a record is becoming increasingly important in the Internet age, given the ease of access to public information.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are few things you should remember if you choose to get your record expunged:

  • In many states, expungement does not literally erase a criminal record
  • Disclosure of the criminal conviction may still be required under certain circumstances
  • If you were subsequently convicted of another crime, your criminal record (even the expunged crimes) may still be taken into account during sentencing
  • Depending on the laws in your area, your criminal record may be physically destroyed, or it may be sealed so that no one may see it without a court order
  • In most states, some criminal convictions—such as murder or crimes requiring registration as a sexual offender—can’t be expunged
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