The process of expunging a criminal record allows a person who has previously been convicted of a misdemeanor, or certain felony offenses, to petition the court to reopen their case and have the conviction set aside.
In simple terms, when an expungement is granted, the case is reopened, the guilty plea or jury verdict is withdrawn, and the charges are dismissed. After a case has been expunged, a person is no longer considered convicted of the offense and your record will reflect a dismissal.
Not all convictions can be dismissed. An expungement is limited to cases in which the person has been convicted of a misdemeanor, or a felony that could have been charged as a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to county jail time, probation, a fine, or a combination of those three.
A person who was initially granted probation must complete all terms of probation and must no longer be on probation to be eligible to petition the court for an expungement. Typical terms of probation include fines, classes, community service, public work, home detention, jail, restitution, et cetera.
A person who was not granted probation may still have their case expunged, as long as one year has passed since the conviction occurred and any other court imposed conditions have been met.
However, an expungement will not be granted if a person is currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for another offense.
A person sentenced to a state prison term, or those who were convicted of a felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor under the law, will need to file paperwork for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, rather than petition the court for expungement.
One of the greatest benefits of an expungement is that it allows a person to answer that they have not been convicted of a crime on most job applications.
Despite expungement, a person must still disclose the former offense if applying for a government-issued license, certificate, or permit application.
For more information on the benefits and limitations of an expungement, to better understand your rights, and for assistance with an expungement, contact us.