Know When to Petition the Court for Expungement
The time it takes request for expungement will depend on the state, the type of crime or allegations that were brought against the defendant, and instances of repeat offenses. For instance, in some states, for a not guilty verdict, a defendant might immediately qualify for expungement.
Depending on the circumstances, it can take anywhere from 2 years to 10 years to become eligible for filing for expungement. It takes even longer in other states to be eligible for expungement. West Virginia, for example, only grants expungements 20 years after completion of sentencing.
After the waiting period has passed, several forms must be filled out and submitted to your local court’s department assigned to processing expungements. To ensure expediency and accuracy of this process, it is advisable to get an attorney to guide you.
A criminal record expungement can help good people who made bad choices resume their lives without worrying that their conviction will come back to haunt them. Getting your criminal record expunged can have many positive consequences.
Although the keeping of criminal records is meant to protect the public, it can seriously hinder those with convictions from contributing to society, as they often are driven to do. Likewise, an employer who performs a criminal record check can use that information when deciding whether or not to hire an applicant. While getting your criminal record expunged does not change the status of your arrest record, it can prevent a potential employer form seeing that you were convicted.
However, there are jobs like the FBI, or joining the military where a criminal record can have a negative impact on the outcome. It is always best to tell the organization you are applying to that you were once convicted of a crime. If they are to find out that you were in fact convicted of a crime in the past, that may be the deciding factor in whether or not you are hired. Likewise, if you have a criminal record, your ability to find rental housing can be jeopardized. Landlords do have the capability to check your criminal history and make a determination as to your tenant-worthiness based on the findings. A conviction expungement can avoid these headaches.
Most state's Penal Codes enable those convicted of some felonies and most misdemeanors and infractions to have their criminal convictions erased. If you have completed all of the terms of your probation satisfactorily, you may be eligible for an expungement. There are differences between each type of conviction, and only a qualified criminal defense lawyer can give you an accurate assessment of your case.
Expungements are often mistaken as having the function of erasing a criminal record. This is not always the case. The term expungement has been adopted colloquially in spite of clear language in California Penal Code 1203.4 that identifies the legal action to be that of dismissal, not a complete erasing. An expungement does not clear your record of your conviction. You must also consider that convictions sometimes are reported in the press or on private websites that are not owned or operated by the state. For an expungement to completely erase your record, the court would also need to make an order to have all media outlets that might have written story about your case to remove that content from their archives. This is not part of the order that the court generally issues, and would be extremely cumbersome to accomplish. In this sense, it is much easier to understand why a criminal record cannot be erased, especially in California.
Any criminal lawyer in the state where the crime happened can be of great assistance when it comes to getting your expungement granted. Lawyers are law analysts by trade and are licensed to do such work. Retaining a criminal attorney to complete your expungement should be highly considered when endeavoring to clear up a criminal record. Furthermore, experienced criminal lawyers are familiar with the eligibility requirements and steps involved in obtaining an expungement. It should also be considered that some expungements will take an appearance in court to be granted. You could choose to appear on your own behalf (pro per), but an attorney likely has a better chance of helping you get your desired outcome.