If you have a criminal record from a long time ago that seems to be coming back to haunt you, there's a possibility that you may be able to do something about it. The exact details depend on the type of record you have, the age you were when you were convicted, and the severity of the crime, but there is a way to have certain records expunged. You'll need to consult with a criminal lawyer to start the process, but this article will give you a basic overview on what an expungement is.
Definition of Expungement
Expungement is the process of sealing court conviction and law enforcement arrest records. Just about every state has some type of expungment law, though the exact details and requirements does vary from state to state. The general benefit you get from an expungement is that once your records are expunged, you do not have to disclose of them later on. This is especially important when you are applying for a job or filling out an application to rent an apartment. So when the application asks you if you've ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, you can legally, honestly and truthfully answer "no."
Since having your records expunged is certainly beneficial for you to move on, it's best for you to do some research to make sure you're eligible for expungement. There are some questions you may want to ask your local law enforcement (particularly the agency that arrested and prosecuted you), as well as asking the criminal court. Determine the following:
- The eligibility for the offense you were convicted of. In particular, some jurisdictions only allow for expungement of records that were misdemeanor crimes, and no felony crimes are allowed to be expunged.
- Time from for expungement eligibility. Some jurisdictions only allow records to be expunged after a certain number of years have passed since the arrest or conviction, while others allow a record to be expunged after a sentence or probation term is served.
- The process for expungement. While it's beneficial that you do hire a criminal attorney to help with this process, you don't necessarily have to have an attorney to have your records expunged. Many courts can assist you with filling out the forms.
In regard to a juvenile offense, many people who were juvenile offenders may have an easier time having their records expunged because many jurisdictions allow for records to be sealed once the offender turns 18 and has otherwise not been in any more trouble. Talk to places like Mark Battaglia, P.C. for more information.