What is it? Expungement is the process of going to court to ask a judge to seal a court record.
Why people seal court files?
People may have been denied at a job, housing or a professional license because of their criminal background.
What Type of cases may be Expunged?
A criminal case that ended “in your favor” for example if you were arrested and charged, but the prosecutor decided to dismiss your case you are able to ask for an expungement. Also if you never entered into a guilty plea and you managed to complete a pre-trail diversion program you are able to qualify for an Expungement.
A criminal case that ended “not in you favor” can be possible but many times expungement is not granted. For example certain juvenile and drug cases are guilty pleas which means the outcome was “not in your favor”
Serious crimes like murder and driving while intoxicated can never be expunged. Another way to expunge minor crimes is by showing that you have made a real change in your life and the chances of you committing another crime are unlikely.
You need to convince the judge the following:
-You have been denied work, housing or a professional license because of your record
-Sealing your criminal record will not negatively affect public safety
-You have rehabilitated yourself
How long will it take?
It usually takes 4 months to complete the process.
Do I need an attorney?
It is important to talk to your attorney in order to understand all of the required procedures in order for you to be able to have a successful outcome.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
If you qualify based on low income you are eligible for help from legal aid offices or volunteer attorneys.
Will I have a court hearing?
In order to ask for Expungement you must go to court, but in some cases you are able to get a notice from the court that tells you that you do not have to attend a hearing.
Once the judge grants the Expungement there is a 60 day waiting period before the records can be officially sealed.
The day of your court:
Don’t miss your court date
Allow plenty of time to get to court
Bring all your files
Bring an outline of what you would like to say
Bring your evidence (Original and copies)
Be sure to conduct yourself properly in the courtroom