Do You Really Need Expungement Lawyers?
Even after you’ve served your sentence and paid a hefty punishment for a felony act, you’ll still have to deal with the consequences because the offense is on your record forever. A criminal conviction or simply an accusation on your records might make it challenging to get work, housing, or even theoretical possibilities. As a result, many people wish to have their criminal records wiped off. Experienced expungement lawyers can help give you a clean start by wiping off the charges or convictions from your record.
Expungement in the United States
In the United States, expungement is a process that differs by jurisdiction. Although rules vary by jurisdiction, several states allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged. Some countries do not allow expungement or only in particular conditions. In a broad sense, once a conviction and any successive court proceedings have been sealed or expunged, all arrest files and subsequent court proceedings are excluded from the public record. And the individual may lawfully deny or refuse to acknowledge ever being arrested for or criminally charged with a crime that has been expunged.
An expungement is a legal procedure for deleting a misdemeanor case in some situations, a sentence, based on the criminal history. Whether or not the matter was several years ago, an expungement might be sought.
An expungement can be requested for different situations. It’s a procedure that treats a person’s criminal records as though they never existed. Expungement choices and restrictions vary by state, although all states allow some sort of expungement or record sealing for minor offenses.
It’s vital to note that expungement is not “forgiveness” for a crime; instead, it’s a legal pardon. Similarly, pardons are not expungements and do not require a conviction to be removed from a person’s criminal record. Public officials in the United States have the authority to give pardons. On the other hand, expungement proceedings require the approval of a judge or court.
The term “expungement” is sometimes confused with other similar concepts, particularly “record sealing.” However, there are a few key differences between expungement and record sealing. When a criminal record is removed, the charges are handled as if they never happened, and they are no longer linked to the person’s criminal history. It usually indicates that the authorities have “removed” it from the legal system.
On the other hand, record sealing indicates that the charges are still valid but that the records cannot be examined since they are closed to the public. This means that, even though the records are still technically in the system, they are inaccessible to individuals or parties such as employers.
A secret conviction can even be used to increase the severity of a future sentence in some places. This is useful when a person’s record as a “repeat offender” is relevant. Even if the documents are technically sealed, this can happen.
While each state’s criteria and conditions for expungement may vary, most states require the following to be eligible for expungement:
- A written request for expungement is filed with the court where the conviction occurred;
- The original sentence must be served and fulfilled.
- There are no new or additional criminal accusations pending against the applicant.
- The identity and address of the detaining authority, as well as any other government entities with information about the case.
- The file name, nature of the offense, judgment, and times of the offense, arrest.
- Private details for example your security number and driver’s license number
- evidence stating that you’ve been on ethical citizenship and that you do have no ongoing restoration orders or civil verdicts, as well as morality statements
Your lawyer will ensure all documentation is completed correctly and submit your appeal to the appropriate court. The court will go over it and run a background check on you. Any further paperwork required by the court will be requested.
Generally, it is the responsibility of the person seeking expungement to demonstrate that their probation or other criteria have been met. Furthermore, the application for expungement is usually only valid for one case (the one they are applying to have expunged). If the applicant wants numerous records or charges expunged, they must submit more than one application.
The court will assess the petition and determine if the person is eligible for expungement when all the paperwork and forms are presented. Individual courts may have different procedures for their expungement processes.
Expunging a Juvenile Record
Many states automatically wipe juvenile criminal records, but this varies. You should seek the opinion of expungement lawyers who specialize in juvenile record expungement. Expungement is often only attainable for people who have kept a clean criminal record in the years since their conviction. Individual courts may have their own procedures for filing a minor expungement petition.
Expungement of Misdemeanors from the Criminal Record
Misdemeanor crimes are usually classified as less serious offenses that carry a sentence of less than a year in county jail (rather than prison) and monetary fines. Most of these violations can be erased from a person’s record in general. The following are examples of misdemeanor convictions that are frequently expunged:
- Traffic offenses, particularly first-time drunk driving or DUI convictions.
- A variety of nonviolent offenses.
- Simple thievery-related offenses.
- Vandalism and trespassing.
- The act of resisting arrest.
Expunctions for misdemeanors can help to clear a person’s criminal record. Specific penalties cannot be reversed, such as reinstating lost gun ownership privileges or exempting the person from penalties, including registration on a sex offender’s registry.
Expungement of Felony from a Criminal Record
More serious offenses are punished by more than one year in a prison facility (not a county jail facility), and higher criminal fines or fees are classified as felonies. Expunging felony charges is more complicated than removing misdemeanor ones. Some states do not allow for the expungement of felonies, while others only allow for the expungement of specified felonies.
A general rule is that the more serious the felony, the less likely it will be expunged from a person’s record. Longer sentences and greater criminal fines are related to more serious offenses than less serious crimes.
Less severe felonies and nonviolent offenses (such as drug possession) are more likely to qualify for expungement. Serious crimes, including rape or sexual assault, felonies involving victims under 18, and other related offenses, are not usually eligible for expungement.
Typically, federal crimes convictions cannot be removed. However, in some cases, a person who has been convicted of a federal offense may be given a pardon.
Procedure for Removing Information from a Person’s Record
These procedures will allow you to ask that your previous convictions be expunged under the expungement law.
Determine Your Eligibility
You must demonstrate that your crime accusation or trial is eligible for expungement. To prove that your case qualifies under the law, you’ll need certified copies of court records. If you are eligible for expungement according to the age requirement, you may also need to prove your age at the time of the offense. Evidence of good behavior may be required in specific circumstances.
After you’ve collected the paperwork mentioned above and examined it by an expungement lawyer, you’ll submit a copy of your arrest warrant to the clerk’s office in the district where you have been detained. You’ll also have to give the registrar a $175 application fee. The registration fee is not needed in all situations, so make sure to check with your North Carolina expungement lawyer.
To know if you are qualified for expungement, the judge investigating the case will look through your application as well as your criminal history.
Your application and the file from the court will be reviewed by a judge or a local prosecutor. If any issues exist regarding your eligibility, the judge will order your records to be purged or schedule a hearing. The court clerk then removes the records of your case once the judge has ordered them erased.
Work with an attorney on your application to ensure that your paperwork is done correctly and secure the best chance of having your records removed.
Though you did a crime for the first time and committed the offense before the age of 18, some crimes under the law cannot be wiped from your record. These include:
- Felonies in classes A through G.
- Crimes involving the intentional contamination of food and beverages to make someone unconscious.
- Felonies with a resemblance to assault.
- Felonies that entail appearing on the registration, including a sex offender registry
- Certain harassment or sex-related offenses are punishable under the law.
- Infractions involving the usage of a company vehicle
- Offenses involving the use of heroin or cocaine
- Possessing with the intent to supply or sell methamphetamine is a felony.
- Driving while inebriated is a crime.
How does the Second Chance Act function
As its name suggests, the Second Chance Act aims to give people a second chance following a run-in with the law. This law was enacted to make it simpler for nonviolent criminals to get work and live a better life without the burden of a criminal record hanging over their heads. The Act provides much-needed relief to minors who were minors at the time of their infraction, as well as adult offenders who have lived a quiet life since their last run-in with the law by allowing them to have most types of convictions removed.
The Second Chance Act also allows those who have many convictions to have them wiped as long as they are all for nonviolent offenses. People can also have records purged related to dismissals of crimes previously prohibited under the old expungement statute. Finally, the Act provides for the automatic expungement of dismissals or not-guilty convictions.
Importance of Record Expungement
Depending on your specific situation, an expungement or record seal can be handy. Removing a conviction from your criminal record, for example, could help you get approved for particular employment.
If the offense was minor and nonviolent, expungement lawyers might be able to rid you of these accusations without affecting your career prospects.
Some businesses, though, continue to do background checks on potential employees. This means that even after a conviction is expunged from public court records, it is still possible to find out about it.
Other reasons why you might want to consider hiring expungement lawyers include:
- Aiding in the successful completion of specific professional license exams;
- Getting loan approval for specific loans;
- In some situations, you may be able to gain custody of your children.
Lawyers who specialize in expungement can assist you in getting the most out of the process of deleting prior criminal charges from your record. They do it by adhering to the applicable state expungement laws.
Many organizations, businesses, and government agencies require applicants to undergo a background check. Having a criminal record can make it difficult to:
- Get employed,
- Apply to colleges and universities,
- Get into relationships,
- Apply for housing as well as
- receive services provided by the government.
Getting a Record Expunged
In most cases, you’ll need to submit a Petition for Expungement of Records with the court that heard your case. You are also supposed to file a General Waiver and Release if it has been less than three years since your issue was resolved. There may be a $30 filing charge, which is a non-refundable filing cost.
How long should you wait to file an expungement petition? In general, you must wait three years after your case has been determined before filing for expungement. However, the rules differ depending on the result.
You may file earlier if you additionally file a general release and waiver of any parties against whom you may have a legal claim as a result of your arrest, if you were acquitted, got a nolle prosequi, or had the charges dismissed. If you were sentenced to probation before being found guilty, you must wait until the end of your probationary period or three years have elapsed, whichever comes first.
- If your case was placed on the stet docket, you have three years from the date of the judgment to file.
- If the governor pardons you, you must wait at least five years and no more than ten years after your pardon.
- You must wait three years after finding that you are not criminally responsible to seek an expungement based on that finding.
- You must wait three years if you are convicted of one of the crimes eligible for expungement.
Convictions can be removed in some cases. You can apply for expungement 10 or 15 years after a guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the term, including probation, whichever comes first, depending on the sentence.
You might be able to obtain expungement right away if you were convicted of a crime that is no longer a crime. Prior marijuana possession convictions can be wiped right away, but the amount you were found with must be less than 10 grams. If you were convicted of possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana, you could apply for an expungement four years after serving your sentence.
You must wait until all charges in a case are eligible before expunging it. For example, if you received three nolle prosequi and one stet, you must wait three years because the stet has a three-year waiting period.
In all of the preceding instances, however, a court may grant an expungement petition at any time if the court believes you have demonstrated good cause. The State’s Attorney may object if you file for expungement before the waiting period has passed. At a hearing, you’ll have the chance to explain why you have a good reason.
One of the most common concerns that people have after being convicted of a crime is that their misdeeds will linger on their permanent record and affect the rest of their lives. However, many of these convictions can be expunged from a person’s criminal record with the help of qualified expungement lawyers. This implies that the individual may relax, knowing that potential employers and other organizations conducting criminal background checks will not be influenced by the negative stigma associated with a criminal conviction.
It’s critical to employ a competent lawyer in this area because several statutes govern which charges are eligible for expungement and who can have their convictions expunged. Because it is critical to protect one’s livelihood by keeping a clean record, expungement lawyers prioritize the clients’ needs and seek solutions that provide the best possible future.
Responsibilities of Expungement Lawyers
If you’re worried about your criminal record being used against you and believe you could be eligible for expungement, you should hire a lawyer to guide you through the procedure. Skilled expungement lawyers can assist you in understanding your alternatives and legal rights. Your attorney can conduct legal research for you if you have any specific inquiries regarding the expungement laws in your location or state.
Expungement lawyers focus on the expungement of criminal records. People with criminal records who have been acquitted or completed their sentences frequently seek the services of expungement lawyers.
Expungement lawyers focus on expunging a person’s criminal record. If you were accused of a crime and the charges were dropped or the case was won, deleting your records can help remove any bad blemishes from your history and give you control over who has access to them.
Expungement lawyers can help you seal your record in addition to expunging criminal records. This is beneficial in allowing you to move forward after making mistakes in the past to begin a new chapter in your life.
Criminal Charges that Can Be Forgiven
Expungement lawyers may be able to assist you in clearing your record of former criminal offenses, such as:
- Driving Under the Influence (DWI)
- Possession or distribution of illegal drugs
- Theft (shoplifting, forgery, burglary, and so on).
- Charges of misdemeanor
- Expunction of juvenile records (can be deleted after a certain age)
Juvenile records can also be expunged with the help of experienced expungement lawyers. These are frequently sealed at the time of filing and expunged after a set period if no subsequent offenses have occurred.
Expungement lawyers can also expunge the arrest records, which may make it easier for you to get a job or housing that demands a thorough background check and high standards for previous legal issues. Expungement lawyers can help expunge your arrest record, allowing future employers to only see what they need to know.
Expungement lawyers can assist you in cleaning up your records if you were wrongfully accused of a crime and the charges were dropped. Expunging previous criminal convictions allows people who have been condemned to move on from their mistakes and begin a new life after serving their term or being cleared of all charges.
If you can not purge your records on your own, you may benefit from hiring an expungement attorney. Expunging records is a complex process requiring legal assistance to achieve the best outcomes. As a result, hiring expungement lawyers may be advantageous.
When to Hire Expungement Lawyers?
Here are a few reasons to consider hiring an expungement attorney.
- If you have been cleared of all wrongdoing, expunging your records is the best approach to eliminate any residual blemishes on your paper. If expungement is not an option due to extenuating circumstances (such as a past felony conviction), sealing criminal records may be a viable option for you.
- When attempting to have your records expunged or sealed, expungement lawyers can assist you in ensuring that your documents are expunged most effectively and advantageously possible.
- It is critical to delete criminal charges as soon as possible after all relevant legal actions have been completed (i.e., case closed).
- Expunging records is a complex procedure that frequently necessitates legal assistance. Expungement lawyers may assist you in ensuring that your criminal records are erased as effectively and advantageously as possible.
It may appear simple to file for expungement on your own. However, there could be various factors at play depending on the state laws in which the conviction occurred and whether the offense was charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
If you’re going on your own, it may appear that expunging your criminal records is a complex undertaking. Expungement lawyers can assist you in making the process as simple as possible. Past convictions can be expunged, allowing people convicted to move on from their misdeeds rather than being held back for the remainder of their lives.
The benefits greatly surpass any potential costs associated with hiring an expungement lawyer, as you may save a lot of money over the long term if your criminal convictions are effectively erased.
What are the limitations of expungement lawyers? In most states, people convicted of misdemeanors can expunge their previous convictions. However, expunging felony charges is far more complex.
Those convicted of crimes in some states may be able to have their previous convictions expunged in some instances. When it comes to expunging criminal records properly, expungement lawyers offer a helpful service to save you time and money.
Violent felonies and sex offenses cannot be expunged from your criminal record by expungement lawyers. In any state, these offenses are not eligible for expungement.
The Cost of Hiring Expungement Lawyers
The cost of hiring expungement lawyers varies substantially, based on the particular criteria in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed, the number of underlying offenses, and the severity of those crimes. The cost of hiring an attorney for expungement might range from a few hundred dollars to $10,000.
The following are some of the elements that may influence the overall fees charged by your attorney:
- Fees for filing
- Whether the attorney charges an hourly rate or a fixed rate
- Is there a limit to the number of hours an attorney can bill?
- Whether or not the criminal record will be sealed or wiped completely
Depending on your state’s legislation, you may be able to have misdemeanor and some felony convictions expunged.
Some states, such as California, offer expungements and have their own rules for removing a conviction from your record. Other states, such as New York, may only allow for the sealing of earlier convictions, which means the document will remain on the books but will no longer be accessible to the public.
If your state permits expungement of convictions, the next step is usually figuring out how much it will cost. As you might think, the cost of expungement varies depending on various criteria, so breaking down the prices piece by piece can be helpful.
Court & Attorney Fees
First, there will be ordinary court expenses and, in some places, an application fee related to the expungement procedure. These usually cost between $100 and $400. This, however, may cost more depending on the specifics of your case.
In addition, filing fees, which may be specific to your state or local county court, are usually included in your court costs. This is simply a cost for the court to handle your papers. Thus, a problematic case with more paperwork—such as attempting to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor —may result in greater filing fees due to the additional labor required by the court.
Estimating attorney fees can be complex because many variables influence how much legal labor is necessary. You must pay the hourly amount that your attorney requests if you employ a criminal defense attorney to represent you and guide you through this challenging procedure. During your initial session, your attorney should inform you of the cost, and your bill will include a breakdown of the hours they spent working to erase your conviction.
The cost of an expungement is estimated to range from $400 to $4,000, though the attorney you choose has a significant impact. The case’s complexity plays a role here as well. The more time the attorney spends looking through the data and filling out documentation, the more money it will cost.
Expungements are usually reserved for less severe offenses, and the cost varies widely depending on the sort of offense and the rules in your area. Misdemeanor expungements are more common because some felony convictions cannot be expunged. Expungements for felonies involving sexual or violent crimes, for example, are not permitted in several states. On the other hand, some countries may allow a felony DUI conviction to be expunged.
As a result, more legal work may be needed to expunge a felony conviction, resulting in higher attorney fees. You can discuss this with your criminal defense attorney during your initial session.
Finally, for your record to be expunged, you must know that your original criminal matter has been settled. If you’ve been ordered to serve a sentence, such as community service or probation, it must be completed first. Similarly, if you owe money related to the case—perhaps you owe restitution or fines to the state—you must first settle those bills. Having your record expunged is only a way to remove it from your history, not to avoid any penalties, costs, or punishments associated with it.
Even routine legal problems, however, can become complicated and frustrating. Experienced expungement lawyers can help you with your specific legal issues, explain the law, and represent you in court. Contacting a local expungement attorney to discuss your legal circumstances is the first step.
People who have been convicted of a crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, are often stigmatized by having a criminal record. The negative societal response fades away after some time without re-offending; successful rehabilitation from illegal activity might even appear to be a positive thing. Despite good behavior, the criminal record remains. Even if you are found not guilty or your case is dismissed, the criminal charge remains on your record. The presence of a criminal record might make it challenging to acquire a job or lease an apartment. Without the assistance of criminal record expungement lawyers and an expungement, living a normal life can be stressful.