Expungement is a kind of lawsuit that is requested by a first-time offender. With this request, it will go through court and be judged thoroughly. Expungement seeks that the former records of criminal conviction be removed from federal documentation.
This means that state or federal documents of a specific crime that was committed are removed completely from the records. This is extremely rare and in many states, it differs as to what offenses can even be expunged.
Is Expungement Different than a Pardon?
Upon first reading of its description, it may sound sort of like a pardon, but make no mistake they are different.
Expungement as described earlier wipes the records of the committed crime, by this it means they will be treated as if it never happened. On the other hand, a pardon doesn’t get rid of the records of the event, it’s more just a law equivalent to forgiveness for the crime. In the U.S, an expungement can only be granted by a judge, while a pardon can only be granted by the President.
Expungement Law in the USA
Federal criminal charges are difficult to remove as there is no such thing as an expungement statute and the federal courts do not have the inherent authority to expunge federal changes. However, when it comes to state law, things are a bit different. The laws and provisions for expungement vary from state to state.
Missouri allows for expungement for all non-A class felony crimes while on the other hand, Georgia does not allow for a traditional expungement but allows for record restriction. Alabama allows for expungements except when convictions are involved. It is important to know the laws of the state you’re in if you’re considering getting an expungement.