Expungement is a process in which a criminal record is sealed, thereby allowing a person to be treated as if they never committed the crime. Depending on the jurisdiction, the process may involve filing a civil lawsuit and a court hearing, but many courts offer expunction forms online.
Expungement can provide a second chance for people with a criminal past. However, the process is complicated and can prove difficult for some, especially if there is a large number of charges. There are also different laws in place, so the process might not be applicable in your case.
Several states are introducing bills to improve the process. Some are expanding the types of crimes that qualify for expungement. Others are eliminating waiting periods. And some are passing legislation that makes it easier for people with records to get jobs.
Some states have eliminated blanket bans on individuals with criminal records from becoming licensed to practice in certain professions. Other states have enacted legislation that requires licensing boards to be more open and transparent. Still others are adopting “clean slate” or automatic record-clearing legislation.
Expungement can provide measurable benefits for citizens. It can help with employment, housing, education, and voting. For instance, if you have a record for driving under the influence, you may be able to apply for a license to drive in a new state. This will allow you to continue your employment without fear of losing your job.
Having a criminal record can prevent you from getting a job or renting a home. Having an arrest record can hinder your applications to colleges and schools. If you are applying for a professional license, you could still be required to provide evidence of a criminal history. While an expunction might be the only way to obtain this type of license, the law is not as clear-cut as it seems.
In general, the process of obtaining an expunction is time-consuming and involves a lot of paperwork. A few states require an attorney, while others allow a self-represented petitioner to submit a petition and receive a court order. The process can be complicated, but the end result is well worth the effort.
Although expungement is the newest and most popular option, it is still not guaranteed. Even though the process can be done by any citizen, a lot of people have trouble securing the elusive expunction. Also, it is important to understand that a criminal conviction will always be on your record, and can affect your immigration. Expungement is the best option for those with a record and would like a second chance.
Expensive and complex, a petition to expunge a criminal conviction can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the majority of states have streamlined the procedures. Despite the challenges, expunction has helped millions of Americans.
Whether you are seeking employment, applying for a higher education, or looking for a more fulfilling life, an expunction can be the first step. Just remember that it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure you are complying with the law.