8 Steps to Expunge Your Criminal Background Record

Having a criminal record is never nice but if you have been convicted of a crime, then the record will follow you. It’s something that happens but hopefully you have paid your debt to society and want to turn your life around and become a better person. However, the criminal record can be very damaging to you in almost every walk of life from applying for a mortgage to getting a job but records could be expunged. What are the 8 steps to expunge your criminal background record?

Can Anyone Be Eligible?

Anyone can apply to have their record expunged but that doesn’t necessarily mean their application will be accepted. In most cases, a criminal background record is made private only when there are certain circumstances such as being proven wholly innocent or being convicted of a crime as a juvenile. However, for those who have been charged with a sexual offense, no matter what they may be, will find their applications aren’t usually made private. Sexual offenses and those who have been charged with any sexual crime will find their records are not expunged and not made private either. You need to think about whether you are eligible for this or otherwise.

Be a Free Member of Society

You cannot start or ask to file a petition if you are still in prison. It will be impossible to take any step towards making your criminal record private because you are still serving time in jail. It doesn’t actually matter if you want only part of your record expunged or it entirely, you must not be in prison or jail for the petition to start. The next step to expunge your criminal background record will be to become a free member of society. You must have served your time or be released in order to start the process; so if you are currently waiting to be sentenced or in jail, you cannot file a petition.

Obtain a Copy of Your Criminal Record

It will be a necessary move to obtain a copy of your criminal record, even if you have only ever been arrested and charged with one crime. You absolutely still need to obtain your record which can in fact be very time consuming. However, this is a necessary step when it comes to getting your criminal record expunged. You may want to ensure the record is clean other than the crime you wanted expunged as this may look more favorably in your favor but not always. After you have gone through the process, you will get a copy delivered to you via mail.

Highlight the Offences You Want Expunged

There are some crimes and offenses which cannot be removed or expunged from a criminal background record. Crimes which involve under age minors and sexual offenses will not be eligible so if there are any of these crimes, it is very unlikely you can remove these. However, if there are not any of these crimes, you can choose the ones you wish to be expunged from the record.

Talk To a Lawyer

In most cases, a lawyer will know whether or not there is the chance to have a criminal offense expunged from your record. If he or she doesn’t believe there is, they may advise you not to proceed with the application. However, if the lawyer believes there are grounds for a criminal record to be expunged they will advise you how to proceed. Some may even help to get the ground work going.

Hire a Lawyer

Once you know there is ground to expunge your criminal background record, it’s time to hire a lawyer. Talking to a lawyer for some advice is one thing, getting one who can help through this process is another thing entirely. Some may feel they don’t need a lawyer however; it can be a very difficult process to deal with without any legal help. You should think about hiring a lawyer to help talk you through the process as well as get the help you need to file the papers correctly too.

Qualify For a Dismissal

In order to qualify for a dismissal, you have to reach certain requirements. Every state is different of course so you will need to meet the requirements of the state in which the crime occurred and were convicted. This will be extremely important because if the requirements are not met, you won’t qualify for dismissal. Again, eligibility will be a factor in this step but if you are eligible, then you are one step closer of having the criminal record expunged.

File a Petition

The last step is to file a petition. Your lawyer should be able to file the right paperwork and documents and once they are filed, it’s a matter of waiting for a judge to review the case and rule whether the criminal background record will be expunged or not. If you have gotten to the petition stage, it usually will mean the record can be expunged. However, if there any extenuating circumstances, which there aren’t usually, the record may not be expunged.

Expunge Your Record

If you have been wrongly convicted, it will be important to have the record expunged. However, some can still have their records expunged even if they have been found guilty of a crime and were guilty. First time offenders and young people can in most cases get a criminal record expunged.

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