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.