How to Know If You Are Eligible for Criminal Record Expungement
We’ve all done stupid things that we’ve regretted, sometimes immediately afterwards and sometimes not until much later. But if we’re lucky, we didn’t get caught, we learned our lesson, and we didn’t make the same mistake twice. Unfortunately for some people, their criminal misdeeds get them arrested, indicted, and even convicted, creating a permanent record that will follow them for the rest of their lives. This can make it hard to secure gainful employment, get leases and loans, and of course, exercise your 2nd Amendment rights. In fact, you might wish there was a way you could keep others from finding out about your criminal past. As it turns out, you may actually have that option. Most states allow for some kind of expungement of criminal records, although the process may be referred to as sealing, erasing, purging, or setting aside your record, just for example. But before you can file a motion to expunge your criminal record you need to find out if you’re eligible. Here are just few things you should know.
First you need to understand that eligibility for expunction is based on several variables, starting with your state of residence and/or the state in which you were arrested, tried, and/or convicted. Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding the expunction of criminal records, so you’ll need to find the laws regarding this process for your state. It is unwise to assume that being eligible for expunction in one state will mean you’re eligible in other states, as well. This simply isn’t true, although once your records have been sealed, it doesn’t matter if you move to another state; they will remain sealed. You should know up front, however, that most states require some kind of waiting period before you are allowed to file for expunction, and this will vary by the circumstances of your case.
Now, there are several criteria that could affect your eligibility in most cases, such as the severity of the crime in question (misdemeanor, felony, violent crime, etc.); whether or not you were acquitted, convicted, or the charges were dropped; the severity of the punishment (probation, jail time, etc.); your age at the time of the offense (particularly for juveniles); and of course, other items on your criminal record. Your eligibility could also be affected by whether or not you are still serving time under parole or probation, as well as whether or not you have paid any fines, fees, or outstanding restitution resulting from your criminal misdeeds. And your relative state of rehabilitation might also have an impact.
Some states require that anyone wishing to file a petition for expungement include a statement or declaration detailing how they have changed since the event in question, how their criminal record has hindered their ability to find work, and any steps they have taken to improve their lot in life (education or training, for example), as well as plans for the future, amongst other things. In truth, there are a lot of factors that could play a role in whether or not you are eligible to file for expungement of your criminal record. If you’re serious about getting your life on track you might want to hire an attorney like Paul Quinzi that has experience with this type of case, not to mention a proven track record of success. Legal help will cost you, but it could be well worth the money if your criminal records are sealed and you are able to take back your life.