Most states in the United States allow for the expungement of criminal records under certain circumstances. Expungement is a process whereby a criminal record is sealed or destroyed, making it unavailable to the public. Expungement can be an important tool for people who have been convicted of a crime and are seeking to move on with their lives.
To get a criminal record expunged, an individual must usually complete a period of probation or jail time, and may also be required to pay fines. Expungement is not available in all cases, and it is important to consult with an attorney to determine whether expungement is an option in your particular case.
Sealing of Criminal Records
The sealing of criminal records is the legal process by which a criminal record may be destroyed, making it unavailable through most public sources. Once a criminal record is sealed, the general public will not have access to it.
Sealing criminal records is often used to allow individuals with past criminal convictions to move on with their lives without the stigma and disadvantages associated with having a criminal record. In many cases, individuals who have had their criminal records sealed can obtain employment, housing, and other opportunities that may otherwise be closed off to them.
Several different requirements must be met for a criminal record to be eligible for sealing. In some cases, an individual may need to wait a certain amount of time after their conviction before they can petition for sealing. In other cases, an individual may need to demonstrate that they have been rehabilitated and are not likely to re-offend.
Other Record Relief Options
In addition to sealing, there are several other options for relief from the consequences of a criminal conviction. These include:
· Expungement: This is the process by which a criminal record is destroyed. Unlike sealing, expungement is only available in limited circumstances and is generally reserved for juvenile offenders or those who have been convicted of relatively minor crimes.
· Pardons: A pardon is an act of executive clemency that can be granted by the governor of a state or by the president of the United States. A pardon will not erase a criminal record, but it can restore certain rights that may have been lost as a result of a conviction, such as the right to vote or possess firearms.
· Commutations: A commutation is a reduction in the sentence of a criminal conviction. In some cases, a commutation may result in an individual being released from prison before they have served their full sentence.
· Probation: Probation is a period of supervision that is ordered by a court instead of incarceration. Individuals who are placed on probation are typically required to comply with certain conditions, such as abstaining from drugs or alcohol, maintaining employment, or completing community service hours.
· Parole: Parole is a form of early release from prison that is granted by a parole board. Like probation, individuals who are granted parole are typically required to comply with certain conditions and may be subject to revocation if they fail to do so.
· Deferred adjudication: In some jurisdictions, an individual may be able to enter into a deferred adjudication program instead of going to trial. If the individual completes the program, their charges will be dismissed and they will not have a criminal record.
· First-offender programs: In some cases, an individual may be eligible for a first-offender program. These programs typically involve a period of probation and may include drug treatment, anger management, or community service. Completing the first-offender program will result in dismissed charges against the individual.
Choosing the right option to relieve the consequences of a criminal conviction can be difficult. An experienced attorney can review your case and help you understand your options to make an informed decision about how to move forward.
How Are Records Sealed or Expunged?
In the United States, Records can be Sealed or Expunged under certain conditions and circumstances. Records that are Sealed or Expunged are not available to the public.
Sealing of records is typically done by court order, while expungement is generally done through a request to a state agency. The process for each can vary depending on the state in which you live. Below you will find information about the types of convictions that can be removed or sealed in each state, as well as forms to apply for a release from the record.
Records that are sealed or expunged are not available to the public. This means they will not appear on background checks or in other public records searches. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, sealed or expunged records may still be accessible to law enforcement agencies and courts. Additionally, some employers may still be able to see sealed or expunged records depending on the nature of the job and the state in which you live.
Automatic Criminal Record Expungement
Several states have recently passed laws automatically sealing or expunging certain criminal records. These laws are designed to help people who have been convicted of non-violent crimes get a fresh start.
Eligibility requirements for automatic record sealing or expungement vary from state to state. For example, some states only allow records to be sealed or expunged if the person has not been convicted of any additional crimes in a certain period. Other states have no eligibility requirements and automatically seal or expunge all eligible records.
Automatic record sealing or expungement laws are generally seen as a positive step forward. However, they are not perfect. For one thing, these laws only apply to state criminal records. If you have a federal criminal record, you will need to go through the federal record sealing or expungement process. Additionally, even if your state criminal records are automatically sealed or expunged, there is no guarantee that employers or other entities will not be able to see them.
What Is the Clean Slate Initiative (CSI)?
A growing number of states are adopting “clean slate” laws to automate expungement and sealing procedures for certain low-level offenses, making it easier for people with past criminal records to move on with their lives. Clean slate laws vary from state to state, but generally, they provide a way for people to have their records automatically expunged or sealed after some time without having to go through the costly and often complicated process of petitioning the court.
While clean slate laws are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough. People with minor offenses on their record can still face significant barriers to employment, housing, and education. And even if their offense is eligible for expungement under a clean slate law, they may not be aware of it or know how to take advantage of it. The Clean Slate Initiative is working to change that.
To date, seven (7) states have passed laws that meet CSI’s criteria for Clean Slate legislation –
A criminal record can create difficult downstream consequences, whether the record is for having been arrested or convicted (or both). There are many benefits to expunging a criminal record. Perhaps most importantly, it can give someone a fresh start. Expungement can make finding a job, renting an apartment, or obtaining a professional license easier. It can also help to reduce the stigma associated with having a criminal record. While not every conviction or person qualifies for expungement, many states are expanding expungement eligibility. So, it’s always worthwhile to check out your state’s laws.