A criminal record can get in the way of every important aspect of your life. It can prevent you from getting the job that you want, it might affect your relationships, or it can make you seem like an unsafe person to be around. As a result, it seems logical that you may want to get it off your record.
Is It Possible To Clear My Criminal Record?
Yes, there are two ways in which your criminal record can be cleaned: the first is through sealing your records and the second is by having your crimes expunged. Each “clearing” method is applied under different circumstances.
Criminal record sealing occurs after you have paid for your crime, typically through jail time. There will be a specific waiting time, depending on the crime you committed. If your request to seal your records gets accepted, then the records will still be there, only that they’ll be hidden from the public eye.
With expunging, the record gets erased completely. This can happen if your case was dismissed, you were acquitted, you served your time, or you were charged as a minor. Normally, you will need a lawyer in order to get expunged.
Will All My Crimes Be Removed From My Record?
Every state has its own laws, and a crime that may be cleared in one state may not be cleared in others. There will be certain considerations, such as whether you served time, completed a rehab program, or paid your fines.
One thing that you will have to remember is that not every crime can be cleared, even if you acted like a model civilian for the past couple of years. If it was only a minor crime – a misdemeanor, so to speak – then you may be able to get it removed. However, if you were accused of the following, it may prove more challenging:
- Violent crimes (first-degree murder or weapons charge)
- Sex crimes (rape, sexual assault, etc.)
- Child pornography
- Crimes committed against minors
If this is your case, then you might want to make sure that you have a good lawyer to expunge your criminal record. However, keep in mind that this may prove challenging even for them, so make sure that you listen to everything they say. You need to help them help you.
How Long Will Crimes Stay On Your Record?
Your crimes will remain on your record until your lawyer can prove that you are not guilty, or until it is considered that you served your time. For instance, in Albuquerque, first-degree felons become eligible for expunging their record in 10 years. In this case, you will need an Albuquerque criminal defense attorney to help clear your record.
If you were innocent, then the felonies will only remain on your record until you are proven innocent. This can last for a couple of months, depending on whether you get sent to trial or not.
How To Clear Your Criminal Record
If you have been accused of a crime, the first thing that you should do is to hire a criminal lawyer. Not every crime can be removed from your record, so your attorney will analyze your case and see what can be done. With that in mind, here are the steps that you will have to go through.
- Break down the law of your state and see whether the crime you committed can be sealed or expunged in your state. Depending on the type of crime, you may have to meet several requirements from your local laws.
- If you are eligible, you may ask the court to clear your criminal record. You need to file the appropriate paperwork for your case, given to you by your local government.
- With the court now in possession of your request, they will go through your criminal history and determine whether you actually qualify for having your criminal record cleared or not.
- If the case has a more complicated nature, a hearing may be held. It may not always be mandatory for you to attend the hearing, but it is still in your best interest to go, accompanied by your lawyer.
- Wait for a response on whether your request was granted or not. If a hearing is held, you will probably hear the answer then.
Bear in mind that even if your criminal record is technically “cleared,” it is not completely removed from every database – just from those that are public and may affect you. In some rare circumstances, your criminal record will have to be exposed, but this often happens via specific request.
The Bottom Line
As long as you are eligible, you have ways to clear your criminal record. These records may still be somewhere “underneath a veil,” but at least they will not affect you when you are trying to get a job or fit into society.