How do i clear my criminal record
Usually, the verdict or outcome of your case determines whether specific records can be expunged. It does not matter whether your case was a misdemeanor or a felony. For most offenses, if you have been convicted found guilty , the records about that charge cannot be expunged. There are exceptions. Learn more about which records can be expunged and which cannot. If you were charged with more than one offense based on the same incident, transaction, or set of facts, you can only have records from that case expunged if ALL of the charges from that incident are eligible for expungement.
For example, a person might be charged with three separate offenses based on the same incident. The person might be convicted of one of the three charges, and have the other two charges dropped. If the conviction is not expungeable, the person will not be able to expunge the records from the two charges that were dropped either. The only exception to the Unit Rule is for minor traffic violations. No matter what happens with the minor traffic violation, even if you are convicted of it, it will not affect your ability to get the other related records expunged. If you were arrested before October 1, , you may wish to contact the local arresting police department and ask them to clear the record.
If it has been less than three years from the time your case was concluded, you will also need to file a General Waiver and Release. This filing fee is not refundable. Learn more about how to file a petition for expungement.
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If you were found guilty of a crime that is no longer a crime, you may request an expungement immediately. You must wait to expunge a case until every charge in that case is expungable. In all above cases, however, a court may grant a petition for expungement at any time if the court feels you have shown good cause.
If you file for expungement before the waiting period has elapsed, the State's Attorney may file an objection. You will then have the opportunity to show why you have good cause at a hearing. Read the Law: Md. The expungement process takes approximately 3 months. Once the Judge signs the expungement order you will receive a copy of the order in the mail as well as a Certificate of Compliance from each agency required to expunge their part of your record.
There may be times in the future when you need to be able to explain what happened with your expungement, and it can be very difficult to prove what happened once court and police records have been expunged. Citizenship applications and deportation hearings can be negatively affected if the Federal agency handling your immigration case needs to review your past criminal case and can no longer do so because it has been expunged. Yes, the court can deny your request for an expungement. If the Judge denies the petition at the hearing, you may file an appeal within 30 days of the denial.
You will have to pay a fee by credit card or check. Cash is not accepted. Sometimes this may be when law enforcement personnel are investigating a case or if a person is arrested or facing conviction of a serious crime at a later date. If your state only seals records, it may be in your best interests to investigate further the circumstances that may lead to the unsealing of a legal record.
How Can I Clear a Criminal Record?
One of the most powerful forms of expungement is a Certificate of Actual Innocence. These can be issued if a person is charged with a crime, but those charges are later dropped, or the defendant is found not guilty after going through a trial. Obtaining a certificate counteracts any possibility that a record may be unsealed and cause issues for a person at any point in the future. It basically proves that a legal record should have never existed at all in any form.
Another possible avenue for someone who has been convicted and seeking expungement is to obtain proof of rehabilitation.
This proof can stand on its own or be used as part of the petition. It provides evidentiary proof that a person has taken the necessary steps to live a life of exemplary conduct, taking steps to be proactive in correcting any past possible wrongs they may have committed. This includes demonstrated remorse and full payment of any restitution due to victims.
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Expungement may also take the form of a pardon from state law enforcement officials. A pardon does not erase the crime you committed, but it does provide an official notice that you have been forgiven for that crime. You will still need to disclose information about past criminal activity when required, but a pardon will offset the impact of that record to some degree.
The single biggest benefit of a successful expungement is that you can truthfully and legally say you were never arrested, accused or charged with a crime. It is as if the entire incident never happened and restores you to your state in life before you were ever arrested, charged or convicted. When you apply for a job, or if you are already working for an employer, they are not allowed to ask about an expunged conviction.
It cannot be used against you in any employment decision either. An expunged conviction will also not show up in most all employer background checks as well. In addition, many landlords not only run credit checks, but criminal background checks as well. The same also applies when making an application for a mortgage or a credit card in some cases as well. Expungement and related actions regarding court records are handled at a state level, so each state will have different guidelines, processes and procedures. However, there are some aspects of expungement that are common in most all states:.
In all cases, to be eligible for consideration of having records expunged, a person will need to meet several criteria. Those criteria may include:. Minors vs. Most states treat the expungement of records for minors differently than they do for adults.
In some states, the expungement of records for minors is even mandatory. Many states also seal records of minors automatically and immediately. The premise is to not have a youthful offender suffer the consequences of a legal record follow them around into adulthood, negatively impacting them for an extended period of time.
The process. With few exceptions, and if all conditions are met, the expungement process will typically start by filing an application or a petition for an expungement. A prosecutor may challenge the expungement by filing an objection before your expungement hearing. Possible reasons for denial. While reasons may vary from state to state, some things that may cause an expungement petition to be denied may include:. Expungement proceedings almost always take place at the state level. There is no federal law governing expungements. Each state, however, has its own qualifications and procedures for expungement, usually requiring a waiting period and a low level of severity to the offense.
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Once expungement is granted, states differ in whether they will seal or destroy the record. A sealed record may remain available to a law enforcement agency, but unavailable to the public.
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If a record is destroyed, all relevant documentation is removed from the state court system. Many states allow for some felony convictions to be expunged. Serious felonies—including sexual offences such as rape or child pornography, or other violent crimes—are almost never eligible for expungement. Generally, a petition for expungement must be filed with the court that convicted you of the felony.
The process can be lengthy and sometimes complicated, more so with felonies than with misdemeanors. Ultimately, it is up to the judge to decide whether expungement is granted.
How to erase your criminal record (yes, that's a thing!)
The likelihood of clearing a misdemeanor from your record will vary from state to state. Less serious misdemeanors, especially if they are a first offense, are not usually too hard to clear. Generally all it takes is filling out the proper paperwork check with the court in which the conviction occurred , and possibly making a court appearance.
More serious misdemeanors, however, can be closer in nature to felony crimes. Some states prohibit any expungement of DUI convictions. Most states that do consider expungement for a DUI require that the DUI sentence must have involved probation only, no jail time. In addition, all provisions of the DUI probation must have been fulfilled, and there cannot be any other criminal charges pending. A DUI case affects not only your criminal record, but your driving record as well.