Are you having trouble renting out a decent place? Is your criminal record coming in the way of getting a good job? If so, then you should hire a lawyer and get an expungement, that is, if you are eligible.
What is an expungement?
Expungement which is also known as an expunction is a court ordered task that mandates the sealing of someone’s arrest records or criminal conviction. In simpler terms, this process can be referred to as ‘setting aside a conviction or criminal conviction’. Mind you, only someone who was arrested or charged with a crime, but not convicted, can be given an expungement. Their records will be sealed but not obliterated, destroyed or eradicated in any way. These records will be inaccessible to the general public but can be viewed upon permission from the court.
Are you eligible for an expungement?
Not everyone is eligible for an expungement, there is a criterion that needs to be fulfilled, without which the court will order the sealing of your records. Here’s the eligibility criteria:
- Someone in a civil action who is charged with contempt of the court, but is found not guilty
- Someone who has pled ‘not guilty’ in a criminal case, but is and is then acquitted by the jury or judge
- Someone who was convicted of a crime, but is then given a pardon
- Someone who’s a victim of identity theft in the sense that their name or identification is used without proper authorization or consent, during a criminal proceeding or case
- Someone who is not prosecuted (nolle prosequi) during a criminal case on the decision of the Commonwealth Attorney’s office
- Someone charged with misdemeanor or assault and battery, for which he can be sued in a civil action suit. If in this case, the victim provides written that he has received satisfaction or has pardoned the defendant, and the case is dismissed, only then is the accused eligible for an expungement
Can you apply for an expungement if you believe that you have been wrongly convicted?
No one is eligible for an expungement on the basis of his belief of being unjustly or wrongfully convicted. Only people who haven’t been convicted or found guilty can receive an expungement. At most, someone whose conviction is later overturned, someone who had their case retried and is found not guilty, or someone who has received an absolute pardon (which is rare) by the governor can try for an expungement.
Can you receive an expungement if the criminal charges against you were dismissed?
Dismissal of a case doesn’t mean that the accused is not guilty, it just means that the case is no longer active in the court’s docket. The main requirement for receiving an expungement is the accused being innocent. It might be possible in some cases to receive an expungement after a case dismissal, however, before moving forward in this matter, you should consult an attorney.
Are you eligible for an expungement if you were under 18 at the time of the crime?
Most juvenile records are automatically sealed once you reach the legal age. However, this does not apply a felony charge. In case of a DMV, the records are automatically sealed or destroyed when the convicted turns 29 years old. You can also apply for an expungement earlier if you don’t intend to wait until the age of 29, that is, if you were found not guilty of the crime.