A criminal record can make life very difficult. Background checks are standard for most employers, lenders and rental agencies, making any past charges easily found and held against you.
If an arrest or conviction from your past presents significant challenges to building your future, expungement of past charges may clear the way for you.
What is expungement?
Expungement, also called expunction, is a legal process to remove a past charge or conviction from a criminal record. It results in a sealed or destroyed record.
How do you qualify for an expungement?
Expungement is a complicated legal process. The type of crime, the severity of the crime and your age at the time of the charge are all important factors in determining whether or not you qualify. Generally, the charge or conviction must have occurred at least 15 years ago and it must have been nonviolent in nature. Also, you must have maintained a clean record since that arrest.
What types of crimes are eligible for expungement?
Dismissed assault charges, or those with not guilty verdicts, are eligible for expungement. Similarly, dismissed DWI charges, or those with not guilty verdicts, are eligible for expungement. Some drug convictions may qualify, depending on the type of charge and your age at the time of the offense. Charges dismissed by a judge are eligible for expungement. Arrests that did not result in charges are eligible. Certain misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies are also eligible for expungement.
The rules for expungement are complex. If you have a nonviolent charge of any kind in your past, it is worth pursuing to find out if you qualify to have it cleared from your record.