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What is an Expungement?

Please note: This is general information about expungement that doesn’t necessarily apply to every state.

Expungement is the legal remedy for removing or destroying a case or conviction from your criminal record. The definition and process of expungement varies by state and generally depends on each state’s unique expungement statute(s). You may find expungement information specific to your state here.

In addition to simply clearing your records, expungement may also involve the removal of your case by the annulment, withdrawal or vacating of the original finding of guilt. This includes expunging the conviction without impinging access to the records in question.

Many states allow courts to consider expunged records in future investigations or cases, or to be used by government entities or law enforcement on a limited basis. Our expungement eligibility tool makes it fast and easy to determine if your case is eligible for expungement in your state.

Expungement statutes are usually put into place to achieve policy objectives, such as providing offenders a pathway for rehabilitation, increasing incentives to rehabilitate and to accept plea bargains, and ensuring the impact of legal punishment is proportional to the crime. Such laws must strike a balance between policy objectives and the public’s right to know.

Dramatic increases in background checks over the last 20 years have coincided with the growing need for records expungement, clearing and sealing. There are two primary reasons for the increase in background checks in recent years:

  • Increased concerns about security, particularly following the attacks on 9/11.
  • Advances in computer and digital technology, which have made it easier than ever to collect criminal records and conduct checks on job candidates and employees.

The growing demand and increasing affordability of background checks has had devastating consequences for people across the country, making it harder for many to move beyond past mistakes, obtain gainful employment and regain control of their lives. As a result, many states have made attempts to change expungement laws and bring things up-to-date.

As yet, no major changes have come at the federal level.

How do I expunge my criminal record?

To start the expungement process, you must first learn if you’re eligible for an expungement. Find out if you qualify by trying our free expungement eligibility tool or call (844) 927-1396 today for a free consultation.

While each state’s expungement process varies depending on local expungement law, there are several steps generally involved any expungement proceeding:

  • Completing court requirements. No matter your state, you are required to pay all fines, complete probation, complete all court-appointed classes, be in good standing and not have been convicted of a different offense during the probationary period before requesting an expungement.
  • Learning about the original case. Collecting information about your case and conviction is key to understanding what you’re facing and what you’ll need to clear your record. Contacting the Court Clerk in the county you were convicted is typically the best way to get a copy of these records.
  • Filing a motion. To expunge your conviction, you must file a motion to reopen your case and change the “not guilty” finding. This step varies by state and the complexity of your case.
  • Filing proof of service. In many state and local jurisdictions, you must also file a proof of service with the local court and provide a copy of your expungement motion to the District Attorney. Once completed, you must be present for the expungement hearing date set by the court.

In any event, hiring an experienced, proven expungement team can provide the support you need to understand your case, navigate the process and achieve the best outcome possible.

Our expungement.co records clearing and sealing experts provide everything you need to understand your expungement options and get the results you deserve.

How long will my expungement take?

While many states allow individuals to expunge felony records, not

Much like the process itself, the time needed to expunge, clear or seal your criminal record is based on your state and your conviction. Once you determine your eligibility and start the expungement process, clearing your record may take anywhere from 2-to-6 months or longer, depending on state requirements and the circumstances of your case.

By law, expungement typically can’t begin right after a conviction. Court requirements (fines, probation, good standing, etc.) must usually be completed before an expungement petition will be accepted by your local jurisdiction. In addition, some states require a waiting period of up to five years after probation before you may legally file for expungement.

While expunging your records may seem simple, completing an expungement can quickly become a complex process. Records clearing can require anything from filing a motion to judicial review, serving the District Attorney, attending a hearing and completing any number of steps demanded by the state.

If any detail or step is missed, the process can take much longer than expected. In some cases, one minor misstep may result in your request being denied altogether.

At Expungements.co, our licensed expungement experts carefully evaluate and research your case to determine the best path forward and deliver an efficient and effective records clearing process.

From filing the motion to defending you in court, we manage each aspect of your expungement to ensure your records are removed, sealed or vacated as quickly as possible. We also provide updates each step of the way, allowing you to track the status and progress of your case.

Can anyone see that my record has been expunged?

Once your record has been expunged, any criminal background check performed by employers will not show evidence of the expunged conviction. However, it often takes several weeks or longer for background firms to update their records.

To expedite that process and ensure background check companies are updated as quickly as possible, our Background Check Clearance Service can help.

While the law varies by state, you’re generally not required to disclose any expunged conviction to employers when applying for a job. So, when asked about prior criminal convictions during the application process, you can honestly answer “no.”

Unfortunately, there are numerous background check and data-aggregate sites collecting your information, many of which sell records of your arrest and other sensitive personal data to people across the web. Even with an expungement, sites like Backgroundchecks.com, MyLife.com and more will continue to make those records available for a small subscription fee.

Our Online Records Removal service combs the web for mentions of your arrest and personal information. Once identified, we remove that data from hundreds of people-search and background check sites.This prevents that info from showing up during searches of your name in the future.

Contact us today to learn more.

Call us toll-free at (844) 927-1396

Free Eligibility Test

Should I get a pardon instead of an expungement?

Technically, every state governor or pardon committee (board) has the power to grant pardons under the law. And why the pardon process varies by state, you will never be charged to apply for a pardon.

However, the chances of receiving a pardon are relatively small, with only 1 in every 5,000 being granted. Also, much like expungement, there is often a wait period between the arrest or conviction and the eligibility to apply for a pardon, which may be five years or more depending on the state.

Pardons are generally available in two types:

  • Unconditional pardon – An unconditional pardon restores the individual’s innocence and rights as though they’d never been arrested or convicted.
  • Conditional pardon – Conditional pardons come with conditions before they become official, including the completion of parole or a prison sentence.

In most states, you must complete or terminate probation before expunging your criminal record. A few states provide relief by terminating probation early, or ending probation before the original court-mandated sentence.

In states where you’re allowed to file a motion for early termination, you must first pay all court costs and fines.

Probation and expungement eligibility

In most states, you must complete or terminate probation before expunging your criminal record. A few states provide relief by terminating probation early, or ending probation before the original court-mandated sentence.

In states where you’re allowed to file a motion for early termination, you must first pay all court costs and fines. You must also complete all court-ordered classes before filing your request. Additionally, it’s recommended to serve at least 50% of your probationary term before making your request, as this provides the best opportunity to win early termination.

  • Age
  • Criminal history
  • Nature of the conviction (severity)
  • Compliance with conditions of your sentence
  • Need for relief
  • Amount of probation completed

An early termination review may take anywhere from 1-to-3 months, depending on your state and the court’s caseload. And while you may choose to file an early termination motion on your own, hiring an experienced attorney to help navigate the process may be the best way to go.

To learn more about your state’s early probation termination process and expediting your expungement eligibility, click here.

Expungement vs. sealing an arrest record: what’s the difference?

Sealing your arrest records removes evidence of your arrest from public view. When an arrest record is sealed, that public record is effectively destroyed and available only to members of law enforcement. Sealed records may only be opened when you apply for a professional license (including a medical or law license).

Expungement, on the other hand, clears only the conviction from your criminal record, leaving records of the arrest and original charge publicly visible.

A few felony and misdemeanor convictions that may be expunged include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Petty theft
  • Marijuana possession
  • Robbery
  • Grand theft
  • Burglary
  • DUI
  • Prostitution
  • Indecent exposure
  • Assault
  • Domestic violence
  • And more

Use our Expungement Eligibility Tool to learn if you qualify for a records expungement today.