How To Get A Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed.
How to get a Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed
Having any kind of criminal record can have dire long-term consequences. It can prevent you from getting a job, from being accepted to school, from adopting children, etc. But mistakes made in our past don’t necessarily need to haunt us for the rest of our lives. In many cases, a criminal record can be sealed or even expunged. This in turn may allow you to legally never mention the conviction again (unless you want to work for the F.B.I. or something).
What makes this process so complicated is that the laws and requirements vary from state to state. So you must follow the rules set forth by the state in which you were charged. But, no matter where you reside, or in which state the offense occurred, one requirement is consistent; you must have a copy of your criminal record.
1. Get a Copy of your Criminal Record
This is an extremely important step as it lets you know exactly what you are dealing with. In many states, the rules surrounding criminal records being sealed only allow it to happen if there is only 1 offense. If you were charged for driving without a license and driving under the influence, that may count as two offenses and could preclude you from qualifying for record sealing. You need to know what your official criminal record looks like. Some offenses may not have made it into the system even (lucky you). By having your record in hand, you can then know whether or not it is worth moving on to the next step.
The cheapest and easiest way to get a copy of your complete criminal record is to utilize a nation-wide criminal record search service. CompleteReviews.net, an online consumer protection company, has reviewed and tested various online criminal record search services and has recommended the best, most reliable sites. To read these reviews, click here. To be taken directly to their top-recommended site, click here. Once you have a copy of your criminal record, proceed to the next section.
2. Know the Laws of your State.
It would be absolutely impossible for me to list every condition for each individual state but here are some general guidelines. At the end of this document, you will find links to state specific sites where you can find the exact procedures you must follow based on where you live.
Arrest, Detention, or Investigation Expungement
The requirements to have arrests, detentions or investigations which did not lead to convictions expunged from the record generally involve rules similar to the following:
- A minimum period of time has elapsed since the arrest occurred… generally at least 30 days.
- There have been no additional arrests.
- The charges were dismissed.
- You were acquitted.
- You were discharged without conviction and no charges were re-filed.
- You were released without formal charges being filed.
Conviction Records Expungement/Sealing
If you have actually been convicted the different rules apply. You state may have rules similar to the following:
- You may have no more than one felony or two class A or B misdemeanor convictions.
- You must have been released from incarceration, parole, or probation for the specified amount of time.
- You must have satisfied all fines and restitution ordered as part of the sentence.
- A specific period of time must have passed which depends on the severity of the crime. For example, an alcohol related traffic offense may require a waiting period of 5-10 years before application for expungement may occur.
Click on the link for the state in which the offense occurred for the specific rules you must follow:
Louisiana This is a list of Lousiana courts/parishes. Each court/parish will have their own individual rules.
New Mexico Contact the court where the criminal record was intiated.
South Dakota Contact the appropriate court from the list provided for their specific rules.
Vermont Contact the appropriate court from the list provided for specific rules.