Wishing It Had Never Happened? What To Understand About Expungement

You might have heard it said that no one should be judged by their worst day, and being arrested undoubtedly falls into that category. Criminal arrest records can affect employment, relationships, and more. In some cases, you might be able to make the record appear almost invisible to the general public. Read on to find out more.

Expungement Only Applies in Certain Instances

It's important to get one key fact out of the way first – only cases in which the defendant was not convicted can be expunged. As you can see from the following, even when the defendant is not convicted, expungement is far from complete or certain:

  1. Your arrest might live in infamy once it hits the internet. Mugshots and crime write-ups can be accessed long after you are found innocent of a crime. Few sites ever revisit to report on how the case was resolved.
  2. Your arrest may be visible to those who request certain levels of background checks. Those are usually jobs in fields that rely on more sensitive measures of criminal oversight, such as those in law enforcement, working around minor children, and certain government jobs.
  3. Your arrest will very likely be visible to court officers. Unfortunately, even expunged records could negatively affect you if you end up getting arrested again when it comes to the charges and sentencing.

Expungement May Be Possible Only in Certain Circumstances

If you have not been convicted of the crime and you want to pursue expungement, consider the following issues:

  1. Time – In most states, a mandatory waiting period is required before you can apply for expungement. The time varies, but it can be as much as three to five years after the case has been dropped or completed.
  2. Seriousness – The more serious the offense, the more difficult expungement might be. Some, like murder and other felonies, are never eligible for expungement.
  3. Criminal record – It might be easier to convince a judge to expunge your record if you have no subsequent arrests.
  4. Punishment – In cases where alternative sentencing or pretrial diversion programs were ordered in lieu of a plea bargain or trial, the program requirements must have been completely fulfilled. Once they are, the mandatory waiting period begins.

In some cases, the desire to clear the record of previous arrests is based on more than passing a background check or looking good for potential mates. It may be about justice. If you are ready to make things correct with your criminal record, speak to a defense attorney about getting started on your expungement today.