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What is the Legal Definition of Expungement?

Photo: CourthouseFor a criminal defense attorney, there are few sweeter victories than when we can help a client seal a criminal conviction from the public record, and give them a fresh start. This process is commonly known as expungement, and it is a legal remedy offered to people who meet specific eligibility requirements.

Let’s take a look at how expungement works, and what protections it offers people convicted of a crime.

What Does Expungement Do?

Expungement is the legal process of sealing records, so that an arrest, or a conviction that was obtained through a plea bargain no longer appears on the public record. This means that an employer or property manager who does a background check will not find information on your criminal record.

If your record is expunged, you are not legally bound to disclose the details of that case when you apply for an apartment, or when you apply for a job.

It’s important to remember, however, that law enforcement personnel would still have access to your criminal record.

Who Is Eligible For An Expungement?

In many states, the records of minors with criminal convictions are automatically sealed, so the eligibility requirements discussed here apply to adults with criminal records.

And although the legal language for eligibility requirements vary from state to state, there are some common factors that determine who can apply, including:

  • The type of crime a person committed
  • The length of time that has passed since an arrest or plea bargain
  • Any other crimes that the applicant committed
  • Age of applicant at the time crime was committed
  • How charges were resolved
  • Whether the applicant has complied with the state’s waiting period
  • Whether the applicant has no pending criminal charges
  • Whether the applicant is not currently on probation
  • Whether the applicant has paid any outstanding fines related to the past criminal case

It’s important to remember that some jurisdictions only expunge the records of minors, while other jurisdictions will only consider the expungement of cases that were diverted before they went to trial, typically through some type of plea bargain.

And very few states permit the expungement of an arrest that led to a conviction at a trial.

What Is the Process To Obtain An Expungement?

If you want to get an expungement, you must complete a certificate of eligibility, pay a filing fee and submit the application to the court of jurisdiction for review.

There is no guarantee that the court will grant an expungement, and in some states, you must attend a hearing before a final decision is made.

Get the Help of An Experienced Attorney

If you are serious about seeking and obtaining an expungement, you should hire an attorney who has handled many of these cases with a strong track record of success. A good lawyer knows all the eligibility requirements for filing the expungement, and can ensure that you complete the paperwork correctly. And this is especially true if you are seeking expungement at the federal level.

Please call the Elden Law Group at (888) 991-9353 and take advantage of a free legal consultation about your expungement case.

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