A Comprehensive Guide on Criminal Expungement!

Just because you have a police record, it doesn’t mean that you have committed the crime. However, a police record becomes an undesirable black mark in the public’s eye. Though you wish to put it all behind you, it comes back to trouble you whenever you are looking for a new house or trying to apply for a credit card and even when you wish to apply for a new job. People are going to think twice before granting you anything or even refrain from processing your application. How do they come to know about your criminal record? Every record made by the police is documented into records that can easily accessed by the public if they wish to run a background check on you. This is where criminal expungement helps you!

What is expungement?

It is the process of removing records from different law agencies including law enforcement, juvenile justice agencies or criminal justice agencies concerning your arrest, detention, trial or it could even be disposition of a crime that comes within the justice system. In short, you get to erase your records form the public’s eye. When someone tries to do a background check on you, he or she will not find any legal tracks pointing towards you. However, the law agencies will still have access to your files. The sole purpose of criminal expungement is to make sure you have an ordinary life. You cannot go on committing more crimes after expunging your crime records.

What are the conditions that apply to get a criminal record expunged?

Anyone with a crime record cannot apply for the expungement process. There are different rules and restrictions that apply. The court decides whether you deserve your records to be expunged. You can apply for the process if:

  • You are a first-time offender.
  • You were detained by police but later released without being charged for the crime.
  • You were not found guilty.
  • The charge against you gets dismissed or dropped after sometime.
  • The state attorney did not prosecute the charge against you.
  • You had committed one non-violent crime for which you were granted pardon by the Governor.

When can criminal record expungement be filed?

You must wait for a certain period of time before applying for the process. The waiting period is not the same for all crimes:

  • You can file a petition for criminal expungement after three years if the petition you file is based on acquittal, a dismissal or if the State Attorney hasn’t prosecuted your case.
  • You can apply three years after the probation period was given or discharged (whichever time period is later) and if the judgment hasn’t been given yet.
  • You can ask the court to expunge your records if you could show them a good reason to clear them.

The period for expungement varies from one state to another. When you wish to get your criminal records expunged, refer to the particular state’s rules and conditions before you file the petition.

Tips for Criminal Record Expungement:

  • The process is governed by Penal Code 1203.4, Penal Code 1203.4a or Penal Code 17. Make sure your conviction meets the guidelines offered by these codes.
    • You must have an intervening period of one year between the conviction and petition for expungement.
    • You must have completed your sentence or probation period before applying for the process.
    • You will not be able to apply if you have committed another crime or if you are serving the period for a different crime.
  • There are two kinds of convictions for which you can apply for criminal expungement. One is misdemeanor conviction and the other is felony conviction.
  • Next, you have to approach the legal agency that handled your case and get a copy of your criminal record.
  • You will have a minimum of three forms to fill. They include Petition of Dismissal, Order of Dismissal and Declaration. Read the instructions and fill the forms accordingly. You can get these forms from a court or the agencies that are authorized to offer these forms.
  • Next step is to file the forms to your county court where you were convicted previously. Make sure you take copies of whatever documents you submit. The court will send you affirmed copied with the date of your hearing.
  • Attend the court hearing on the given date. There are chances for the court to grant your criminal expungement without any hearing.
  • If your petition is denied, you can ask the judge how to get your case expunged.

It does sound like a long process doesn’t it? You don’t have to worry too much about these steps if you come to us!

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