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What You Need to Know About Criminal Record Expungement

If you are a convicted felon, you most likely have problems trying to live your life after you have served your time. This includes trying to find employment or a place to live, since employers and landlords may not want to work with somebody who has a criminal past. However, you may be able to make your past go away with a process called expungement. Here is what you should know about it.

What Is Expungement?

A criminal expungement will seal off the records associated with your crime to the public, which prevents landlords or employers from being able to look up your past and find out what you did. The nice thing about expungement is that it doesn't just hide the criminal records since you will no longer be required to tell people that you have them on applications.

A caveat is that the records are closed off to the public, but they are still available to police and other government officials. For instance, a police officer would still have access to them if you were involved in a criminal investigation in the future. If you have a deportation or immigration case in the future, these records can also be accessed.

How Are You Eligible?

County and state laws exist to determine which criminal records can be expunged. For instance, some states don't even offer record expungement. Another state may offer expungement, but only for misdemeanors. Expungements may only be possible for not-guilty verdicts where you had criminal charges against you. In a generous state, expungement may be possible if you were found guilty, served time, and completed your probation period. There can also be restrictions on expungement not being allowed for adult records but being allowed for juvenile crimes.

As you may be able to tell, expungement eligibility varies greatly based on your crime and the location where the crime was committed. A lawyer can best let you know if your crime is eligible to be expunged.

What Is the Process?

To have a crime expunged, a lawyer can help you complete the necessary paperwork and file it. It will then involve attending a hearing in court where a judge will decide on your case. If successful, you'll find that having criminal records expunged will make a big difference in your life. Your best chance of success is to work with a criminal defense attorney who can help you through every single step of the expungement process.