Can My Criminal Record be Expunged?
Many would honestly say that the aftermath of a criminal conviction often outweighs that of the sentencing itself. Why is that, you may ask? Because when a person is accused and then convicted of a criminal act, whether minute or significant, once they are done with their court designated penalties they will still have to carry their criminal record with them for the rest of their life. This is a heavy burden to have on your back, because it may go as far as preventing you from obtaining a certain job title because of your past, no matter how long ago the offense was committed. You may feel as though there is no hope because of your past conviction, but this may not always be the case for you. Though you will be required to deal with the consequences of the conviction for years down the road, there are options for certain individuals to have their records kept from the eye of the public.
Expungement is the process in which a judge will determine that your criminal record is eligible for concealment. Though your slate will not be technically “wiped clean,” your record will be hidden from the majority of state and federal repositories or databases. When dealing with the topic of an expungement is vital that one understand the difference between this and a pardon. A pardon simply means that the government has “forgiven” the persons actions, though there is still a very clear record of it. In contrast, when a person receives an expungement on their record, for all intents and purposes they can legally say that they never committed the offense. For example, if John Smith was arrested and convicted of a DUI when he was 18 years old, and receives an expunged record at the age of 30, if a prospective employer were to ask him about his criminal past he could say honestly that he had never been convicted of a crime.
While expungement doesn’t necessary mean that your record has been erased completely, it will open doors and possibilities that you may have felt have been closed for quite some time now. You will be given the freedom once again to apply for a job and with a clear conscience choose to not disclose your past arrest or conviction information. As stated, your criminal record will still exist, though it will only be attainable be specific governmental agencies varying between criminal courts and law enforcement agencies. Your record will still be used in the event that you are arrested for another criminal offense, or are dealing with immigration or deportation court proceedings. The court can and will hold your past record against you when accused of a crime even after expungement.
You may now be asking yourself, “Can my criminal record be expunged?” Unfortunately, there are certain requirements that a person must meet in order to be deemed eligible by the court. Factors that will be taken into consideration include:
- How long ago you were arrested or received the conviction
- How severe the crime was that you are seeking to have sealed
- You current record since the arrest or conviction
- Any other criminal offenses or arrests that are on your record apart from the crime you are seeking expungement for
When seeking to have your record sealed, the court will take into account a number of factors, one of the primary concerns being the severity of the crime that you originally committed. For example, judges will likely not seal your record if you have a sex offense on your record. Another important factor to note is that they are concerned with a changed life, and it is very important to have a clean record for a number of years before they will even consider you eligible for expungement. It is important to realize that expungement may not always be an option depending on the crime for which you have been convicted.
The process of expungement may be extensive which is why having strong legal representation on your side is so vital. Are you looking for the best criminal lawyer in Bergen County? Look no further than The Law Offices of Benjamin G. Kelsen, Esq. LLC. for the experienced and highly qualified team you deserve fighting on your side. If you are seeking to have your record expunged, do not wait another moment to discuss your case with a professional. Please contact our office immediately for further information on how we can help you!