Expunging a criminal record can be a long and complicated process. Expungement may take a few months to over a year, depending on the circumstances of the arrest or conviction, the nature of the offense and the laws in your state.
The first chance you might have to clear your record is during your court trial. You can work with an attorney to fight the charges against you. Simply fill out the free evaluation form on this page or call 877-445-1059 to arrange your no-obligation consultation.
Expunging Criminal Records
The process of expunging records is different in each state, but generally involves petitioning the court in which the original offense occurred.
In many states, the County Clerk or similar official will provide the necessary paperwork and may schedule a hearing before a judge. This may be the same judge who presided over your original case.
In some states, the hearing is not scheduled until all paperwork and fees are submitted. The paperwork varies by jurisdiction, but may include:
- An application for expungement
- A request for your criminal record
- Notification for various agencies
It is a good idea to make extra copies of all forms, and in some states, it may be required. You may also be required to submit your original court decision, a copy of your fingerprints or other evidence, and pay a fee.
At your expungement hearing, you will likely appear before the judge who will review your application, criminal record, and other evidence.
Although generally not necessary, you may be able to submit proof of rehabilitation, such as letters of recommendation, certificates of drug or alcohol counseling, or verbal testimony.
If the crime you are trying to expunge was a violent crime, the victim of the crime may be notified, and may be able to submit a written statement or testify at your hearing.
The judge may then apply the “balancing test,” which weighs the impact your criminal record has on your life against the public interest to recognize those with a criminal past.
If the judge finds in favor of expungement, he or she will provide you with a copy of the ruling, and will typically notify the agency responsible for compiling criminal records to seal your records.
The above summary of the expungement process is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on expungements, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.