There is no surprise in knowing that a criminal record can continue to have significant effects on a person’s life long after all obligations have been served. As the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter puts it, individuals with a criminal record are likely to find themselves facing prejudice and hardship. A criminal record can greatly block certain opportunities, such as educational, financial, and career advancements. Those keen on bouncing back and starting over can do so through expunction or the process of having criminal records sealed.
Before we go into understanding the process of expunction, criminal records are not only kept on people that have been convicted of a crime. As the Flaherty Defense Firm notes on its website, criminal records are also kept on individuals that have been arrested or charged of a crime—regardless of the circumstances around it. This is why it is particularly important to have an option that allows for a process to have criminal records sealed from the public. Through expunction, an individual can petition the court to have past criminal records sealed, preventing potential employers and other organizations from accessing the information.
Individuals who are considering to petition for expunction should be aware of the fact that the process is largely different from state to state. Depending on one’s state of residence, a petitioner must be able to meet certain conditions before they can be granted approval. In general, expunction is an option available only to those who were arrested or charged but not convicted of a crime. It is also mostly applicable to crimes that are deemed as misdemeanors. Certain circumstances such as acquittals, pardoned convictions, and juvenile offenses are also among the conditions in which expunction may be pursued.
On top of these basic conditions, the court will also consider several other factors before expunction can be granted. Most states require that an individual only be allowed to make their petition after a certain amount of time has passed. Some, such as Florida, require that the petitioner have no other criminal records sealed.