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People who have been convicted of a felony have trouble getting their lives back to normal. Fortunately, there is a legal proceeding called expungement that can help. This is the only way that individuals can clean up their criminal records. It may not always be easy, but it can be successful when the right process is followed. Whether a person needs to buy a new car or house or apply for a job, a clean criminal record can make a big difference. With this, it is best to opt for an expungement in order to come out with a clean slate.
Convicted offenders should be aware that their criminal records will never disappear on their own. They have to do something to delete them. The court has the power to have these records eliminated. This means the judge will decide if the applicant qualifies. If they do, the individual’s record will be erased and sealed from the public. With this, no one will ever get access to the information including employers who need to do a background check.

Each state has its own laws governing expungement. Generally, it takes around three months to one year or more before their conviction is expunged. It basically depends on the state’s laws. In addition, it may take more time before the record is totally removed from local, state and federal databases.

The law recognizes that being convicted of a single offense may not always explain a person’s real character even if the case is a felony. There will always be extenuating circumstances that the judge may take into account. This is where courts base their decision when approving or denying the expungement application.

Qualifications for Expungement

Qualifications to get a felony expunged vary in every state. However, convicted individuals who do not commit additional crimes have a better chance. They should ideally have a minimal number of offenses with a significantly low level of severity. People convicted of felonies like rape or sexual battery, child pornography and crimes against minors are definitely not eligible for expungement. Generally, less serious crimes or non-violent crimes like prostitution or drug possession are almost always qualified.

Some states have special rules for cases that can be expunged. In California, there is a law called Three Strikes that penalizes the offender with a life sentence if they have committed three felonies. Even if an individual committed a felony in California and had it expunged, being charged with additional felonies is still counted for the Three Strikes law. Although the crime will not appear on their record, it will be cited if they commit another felony.

Some crimes may also be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor before they are entered into the person’s record. With this, it is always best to seek help from experienced lawyers on how to reduce the charges. Doing so makes it a lot easier for a crimes to be expunged immediately after the convicted person serves his or her sentence.

What Expungement Can Do

• It can restore eligibility for student loans even after drug conviction.
• It can help smooth out the process for housing and loan applications.
• It can improve credit ratings.
• It can help secure job certification and licenses without the hassles.
• It allows individuals to move on without fear and shame.
• It gives the authority to an individual to deny conviction.

What Expungement Can’t Do

• An expunged conviction may still be counted when another felony is committed.
• An expunged conviction counted as a strike remains as a strike.
• An expunged conviction does not delete the criminal record. It will only be dismissed. Nevertheless, the type of crime committed will never be disclosed.
• An expunged conviction does not restore firearm rights lost due to committing a felony. This can only be brought back when it is reduced to a misdemeanor.
• An expungement does not excuse a sex offender from registering. They still have to do this even if the conviction has been expunged.
• Applying for a government job still requires admission of the conviction. However, the dismissal will be emphasized.

The Expungement Process

Individuals who want to have their felony expunged must follow their state’s laws pertaining to the qualifications and process. The following are the steps they should take for the expungement.

1. Determine if the conviction is eligible for expungement.

• Read the state’s penal code.

Potential applicants for expungement should know that every state has their own penal code that stipulates the guidelines regarding this legal process. There are a lot of exemptions in these codes. With this, it is best that they take time to read and understand everything carefully. Alternatively, they may seek legal counsel to explain everything to them and determine if they qualify.

• Wait for the right time.

Application for expungement should be done at least one year to a maximum of five years from the date of conviction depending on the state.

• Applicants should have fully served their sentence.

The court does not allow expungement for applicants who have not yet completed their sentence terms. Generally, a person can only have his or her felony expunged when they have completed the incarceration period or probation and paid all fees, fines and restitution in full. They also have to appear during all hearings.

Alternatively, applicants who have pending probation may request early termination prior to the expungement petition. Otherwise, they have to complete their probation terms first.

• There must be no further convictions within one year of the first conviction.

• Probation for the conviction subject for expungement must not have been revoked or reinstated.

2. Determine the type of expungement applicable to the case.

There are three types of expungement that a convicted felon should be aware of before applying for this legal process. Categories for expungement include cases where probation was not ordered, those when probation was ordered but not completed and situations when probation was ordered and completed.

3. Secure a Copy of Criminal Records.

Applicants should secure a copy of their criminal records for every conviction to expunge. These documents are necessary when filling out papers for expungement.

4. Procure all required forms.

There are two forms that need to be filled out when applying for expungement. No matter what type of expungement is needed, the same forms will be used. This includes the petition for dismissal. These forms are available at the law library or court house and can be downloaded from websites.

In addition, it is always best to attach a letter that explains the reasons to expunge the criminal record. The applicant should point out things like their plans for the future. They should also add the crimes they committed, the reason for doing so and how their record negatively affects their lives. Applicants should enumerate how the conviction injured their personal, financial and professional life. It is also a smart idea to include classes, training or education taken after being convicted. Most importantly, they should include their religious affiliations and any 12-step programs they have taken part in.

There may be employers, community members and clergy who want to help the applicant. They can do so through writing a letter explaining their support. However, it should never be attached to the petition for dismissal. Instead, present letters to the judge during the hearing. Moreover, applicants should bear in mind that they need to have a separate petition and order for each conviction they want to expunge.

5. Prepare the forms.

Documents to be prepared may vary by state. Generally, applicants need to have five copies each of the declaration, order for dismissal and petition of dismissal. Additionally, they have to secure receipts or proof that they have paid all fees, fines and restitution. They may also have to pay for processing fees and secure stamped, self-addressed envelopes.

6. File the forms.

All documents and expungement forms should only be submitted to the state where the conviction occurred. There are also fees to be paid for each type of petition. Low-income petitioners may get fee waivers.

7. Serve the forms.

Serving forms is the recommended formal way of sending documents to the parties involved such as the district attorney and probation department.

8. Appear at the court hearing.

The petitioner may have to appear in court for a hearing. However, those who have met all the requirements don’t have to do so. Instead, they can wait for the decision to be sent to them. Expungement is automatically granted to those who qualify. The court clerk will indicate the exact date when the court makes the ruling.

9. Reapply if denied.

Petitioners who have been denied in the court hearing may seek advice from the judge about what they can do in order to expunge their conviction. The reapplication for expungement should take place three to six months after the petitioner adheres to the judge’s recommendations.

Expungement Processing Time

In Florida, successful expungement seals the criminal record. Employers may know about the record but not the details. Completion of expungement in the state takes about five to seven months. This includes the time to file for the petition until receiving the certificate of eligibility.

In California, the expungement process takes about eight to ten weeks. Successful expungement in the state means potential employers will never find out and cannot ask about criminal records. However, the petitioner may need to appear in court during the process.

In New York, the penal code only allows sealing of cases where charges have been set aside or dismissed. The expungement is only applicable to non-criminal cases such as disorderly conduct.

The time needed for the expungement process may take several months to a year or even more. It depends on how strong the evidence is to support the petition and the state’s legal system. People who want to expunge their conviction may face a lot of hurdles. However, a successful expungement could mean a clean record for the rest of their lives as long as they do not commit another crime.

Expungement is a good way to start a new life. This is especially true for those who were only convicted of a single felony. Expungement gives everyone a second chance. However, everything does not end with a successful petition. The expunged conviction can still be recalled if a new offense is committed.

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  • Hello to all. I got a felony back in 1988 in Fort Worth Tx, for robbery by threat. There were no weapons, no one was hurt, I didn't say a word. It was the threat of me being there while my friend robbed a 7-Eleven. I definitely took part in it but looking back at it I should have fought the charges but whats done is done. Anyway is there anything I can do to reduce this or seal it? At the time I got 7 years probation. The judge let me move to California right away and serve my probation. In California I only served 3 months probation before they told me as long as I don't get into anymore trouble they'll suspend the probation and I didn't have to report back to them. That was my first offense and my last, 27 years later I still have that 1 felony any never been back in trouble. I have recently talked to a few lawyers and they said there is nothing I can do. Is this true or is there a way I can go about this to clean, clear, seal, or rid myself of this felony?

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    Guest - lucha


    Hello I have a question, I was convicted in the year of 2007 2008 for a drug charge and trafficking.At the time I was married and going through a srperation but moved to a new state not knowing anyone to help keep an eye on our child I asked him to come and help. He started to meet people and get into selling drugs and was caught. But by him not being on my lease I was charge also. My question is will I be able to get this off my record as an expungement. I did my 7 months of probation and paid my fines in full with no jail time. Will I be qualified. Please help.

    from Wisconsin, USA
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    Guest - Tink Will


    Can i get a felon expunged if i was put on probation and i didn't pay all the money or complete my community service. In Georgia. Help me please

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    Guest - Mr Screwed


    This is hard to explain, so please stay with me...

    I was originally convicted of a felony in Houston Texas of Theft - [$200 - $10,000] for a crime I committed when I was 16 years old while working as a teller at a bank. Charges were filed about 1 month after I turned 17 years old (5 months after I stole money from the bank when I was 16) in November of 1976. I was told that I would be receiving deferred adjudication as long as I paid the money back, completed my probation term, and didn't get in any more trouble. Since I had never done anything illegal until that time, staying straight was easy, I paid the money back (could be wrong, but I believe it was $1,100) in 18 months and the probation was terminated. For the next 37 years I thought my sentence had been deferred (I incorrectly thought it meant that I had no record, but I was not only wrong about that, but a year ago I found out the sentence wasn't deferred either.

    You have to understand that once I paid the money back (fine included), I went on to graduate from college with an engineering degree and later an MBA, was married for 25 years and raised three great kids, and aside from a misdemeanor public intoxication charge in 1986, I have lived my life the right way. During that time I purchased and registered a 9mm pistol in the great state of Texas, even took the pistol to a concealed carry class that I passed but never followed up on. I've had 3 long term jobs with 3 different companies, and until I had to reapply for my job after the utility I worked for was purchased by Warren Buffets group, at which time I surprisingly found out that I had a felony charge on my record and wasn't rehired due to lying on my application when I originally applied for the job 10 years earlier. Even though I was in upper management positions for the previous 30 years and never had a poor review in my professional life, I haven't been able to find a job since. It cost me my 25 year marriage to the love of my life, which I'm still not over yet.

    At the time I was arrested, my drug addict mother secured a worthless older attorney who only interested in getting into my mother's bed, which is how he was paid. I would have been better off with a public defendant, but didn't know any better at the time. I didn't just take the money for the grins of it, I wrecked the car I had saved up for years to buy, and did a very stupid thing by taking a check from the bank and used it to pay off the body shop top get my car. As I stated, it was a very dumb thing to do, but for some reason, it seemed worth it at the time in order not to lose the car that meant everything to me at the time.

    Now, I can't find anything other than a very brief few lines about the case. Due to the age aspect of the case and the lie they told me about deferred adjudication, I really feel like I was taken advantage of at the time by the attorney representing me, as well as the prosecuting attorney. I'm not sure what I can do to fix this, but a lot of people have found out about it since I lost my job and my wife....I feel like half a man.

    Anyone have any ideas?

    from Nevada, USA
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    Guest - michelle cummings


    I am the wife of a convicted felon who is currently incarcerated but whom is about to get released in a matter of a couple of weeks and I have been desperately trying to find a suitable place of residence for him but I am having absolutely no luck what so ever. I would definitely appreciate any help that you could give me in this situation.

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    Guest - Norma


    How does a college educated person that has worked over 30 years get a new job after receiving a felony. There was no jail time and the crime was committed by someone I was living with. I have worked all my life and now in my 50's cannot get anyone to even consider me for employment

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    Guest - Charles Caldwell


    I live in the state of North Carolina. I received a felony on my record when I was 17 years old. I have written the state of NC requesting an expungement but was informed they didn't handle this. I am in school and have a child. I am living with my parents. I am thirty years old. I need some direction on what o do. Who should I contact. When I was 17 I was convixted of common law robbery. I had a gun. I attended a juvenille detention center for four years and was released. I was working for a while in Fayetteville with a company called Stock Building Supply. But it closed down.

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    Guest - Kirk Kirk Law


    One of our lawyers recently posted an article about how to get your felony record expunged in NC

  • User Male Thumb

    Guest - myesha


    im enrolled in child devlopment class and i soon will be recieving my certificated but i had a misademnor in petty theft couple years ago and now i got it exspunged and hopefully to be moving forward i jus wanna know what are my chances will it affect me from getting a job

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    Guest - guest(bob)


    I have read that in the state of Georgia there is no expungement of non violent felony, only a pardon? I am attempting to enter college, seeking financial aid and seeing a dead end.Is my information correct and up to date?

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    Guest - tina


    i was charged with a felony for 1 pill never was in my hole life.and also had my own use of weed but wasn't legal yet,so because i didn't have the bottle i was charged did no jail ,6 months probation and a fine can i get the exspunged and where no one can see off my record been bout 4 !/2 to 5 yrs

  • User Male Thumb

    Guest - tina

    Guest - tina Report

    i ment to i have never been in trouble in my hole life ,that was my first time

  • User Male Thumb

    Guest - Don


    This is not as cut and dry as you think. I got mine expunged but it doesnt stop employers from looking up arrest records online at the county court siite (los angeles). For 4.95 u can see arrest records even if its expunged.

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    Guest - scott


    I live in ohio and have 3 i think maybe 2 what should i do how can i get a job mony is no problem if i got to pay to get them off but in ohio is it possible to get them taken care of any possible way iv been clean and saober for over 3 years but still dont help i got a family to feed its becoming to much

  • User Male Thumb

    Guest - hello


    Thanks for the information. Keep on writing.

  • User Male Thumb

    Guest - Donald


    It has been over 7 years since my last conviction. I have completed my sentence and recently released from prison, within the last 6 months. I am having a hard time getting a good job or obtaining housing. I would like to get my record expunged,I live in the state of North Carolina, how can I do that? Also, insight in how to obtain subsized housing would be a big help. Feed back would be appreciated.

  • If you have a 7yr old warrent in one state that you have never been charged for, can that stop your expungement process in another state?

  • User Male Thumb

    Guest - Mrs.Brown



  • User Male Thumb

    Guest - Cliff Thompson


    In 2001, I was charged with driving with suspended license causing bodily harm or dealth. I was sentence to 6 month jail and 4 years probation and $1000 fine, all completed successfully. I got a petty thief charge in 2009 misdemeanor , can I still qualify

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    Guest - ron


    I have illegal sale of a firearm back in 07...im trying to land a career not this small time jobs that pay not enough. I live in new york but want to go.back to florida. Im struggling with finding a job im lookin into my cdl. Can have my charge sealed or even lowered to a misd charge. I will take any ideas or thoughts please.. thank you so.much....

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