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Expungement of Criminal Records

Who maintains arrest records and what do they include?

Local police departments and the state Department of Justice keep arrest records. According to law, they cannot show such records to anyone except law enforcement officers, and may only show records of your convictions to certain licensing agencies which have a right by state law to investigate your criminal background.

The arrest record includes when and why you were arrested, whether the charges against you were dropped or whether you were convicted of the charges and the subsequent sentence imposed. Both pleading guilty and being found guilty after a trial count as convictions.

If you are convicted of a crime, are placed on probation and successfully complete the probation, you may be able to have the conviction set aside and the case dismissed. This may be helpful for employment background checks after the probation is completed.

If you are convicted of certain felonies and you successfully complete probation, you may ask that the felony be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Your attorney will be able to assist you in reducing or possibly expunging your record.

Clear Your Criminal Record

When records of an arrest or conviction are sealed or expunged, a notation is made in the file that the records are "off limits" to all except law enforcement personnel. For some purposes, you can treat prior arrests or convictions as though they had never occurred. The benefit is that if you are applying for school, a job, an auto or home loan, or perhaps a professional license, you may be able to answer that you have had no arrests or convictions — assuming no others exist at that time.

General guidelines about expungement programs:

  • You have to apply in writing for an expungement. This should only be done by an experienced professional/firm.
  • If you are acquitted of a criminal charge, you may be able to have the records of the arrest and charge sealed immediately.
  • Arrest and conviction records are not automatically expunged or sealed after a certain time period.
  • Expunged convictions could be used to increase the severity of a sentence should a defendant again be convicted.
  • Convictions cannot be expunged until about one year after they occur, and if the defendant is done serving the sentence and is facing no new charges.
  • Not all convictions are eligible for expungement. In many states, defendants cannot expunge felony convictions or convictions involving sex offenses.

We maintain an extensive database containing information about what can and cannot be expunged by state. If you are interested in sealing your criminal record, we encourage you to call now for a free/no obligation consultation during which we will confirm your eligibility and explain the process involved in completing the expungement.