Expungement: Clearing Your Criminal Record

Expungement is a term which refers to the process of sealing or destroying legal records (such as an individual's criminal record). While the specific meaning and effects of an expungement will vary from state to state, in most cases the record will not actually be physically destroyed but will simply be removed from public record. The record may be viewed in certain circumstances and by certain government agencies. For example, if a person had a DUI (driving under the influence) case expunged from his or her record, this information may still be available if and when that person was facing a second DUI/DWI charge.

Clearing your criminal record may have a tremendous impact on your life. You may be able to legally answer "no" on job applications or in other circumstances when asked if you have a criminal record. You may find it easier to get a job or promotion and may also experience fewer limitations on housing and financial opportunities. You can finally experience peace of mind in knowing that your criminal record will remain where it belongs - in the past.

Qualifying for Expungement

Each state will have its own eligibility requirements an individual must meet in order to qualify for expungement in the first place. Some criminal offenses are unable to be expunged, and some may be expunged rather easily. A common qualification is that the individual have finished his or her sentence and any terms which go along with it, such as payment of fines, rehabilitation, community service, etc. Whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony may also affect one's ability to clear it from his or her record.

Expungement also applies to juvenile records. In some states, juvenile criminal records are expunged immediately, but in others, the juvenile offender must petition for expungement.

If you would like to learn more about clearing your criminal record, click here to find a local criminal defense lawyer.