As you know, a criminal record can be extremely damaging to a person’s future. Regardless of the offense, the sentence, or how much time has passed, the mere existence of any record can impact your ability to obtain employment, housing, and access to other valuable opportunities. Expungement of a criminal record is a great solution; however, former offenders may not be aware that expunging their case is even a possibility.
Expungement Laws – Differ Among States
Expungement laws differ from state to state, because the legislature of each state is able to decide how to handle criminal record clearing. Some states have very generous expungement statutes, recognizing the benefits of granting former offenders a second chance, while some states may not provide for criminal record expungement at all.
Among states that do offer expungement relief, the eligibility requirements also vary greatly. Some states permit expungement of convictions, including felony convictions, while other states only allow expungement of arrests that resulted in a dismissal.
Before you can apply for expungement, states require that you have successfully completed your sentence, including finishing any term of probation or incarceration and paying all court-ordered fines or fees. A waiting period, during which time you remain free from arrest or conviction, is also required in some jurisdictions before you can file for an expungement. You are more likely to be eligible for an expungement if your case was dismissed without a conviction being entered against you. For a dismissed charge, there are often fewer requirements and a shorter or no waiting period.
Proving to the court that you are rehabilitated and deserving of a fresh start may be helpful to your chances for some cases. The court likes to see that the expungement is going to benefit you in some way and that you have changed since the offense was committed. However, this showing is not always required; simply satisfying the statutory requirements will be sufficient to have the judge sign the expungement order in many states.
Benefits of Expungement
The benefits of expunging your criminal records are numerous. In many instances, it will allow you to state you are no longer convicted of the crime or even arrested. It will allow you to apply for employment, housing, loans, insurance coverage, educational programs and professional licenses with confidence, because you are no longer concerned about a past transgression holding you back. The anxiety that may currently prevent you from even seeking out certain opportunities can be lifted.
The exact benefits of an expungement will also be dependent on the state law. Some jurisdictions may still require you to disclose the case in certain circumstances, and in other states, an expungement means the case is completely destroyed and treated as though it never occurred. Regardless of the exact relief provided under the law, clearing your record to the greatest extent possible will allow you to best chance to move into the future without a criminal record continuing to impede your success.
Are you Eligible?
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for a former offender is determining whether or not their case is eligible to be expunged. Most people are unfamiliar with the expungement laws, and it can cost upwards of $200, a typical consultation fee, to get an attorney to review your case and determine if you are eligible. To save you the time, money, and frustration involved with setting up an in-person consultation, you can now take a free, confidential eligibility test online.
Within minutes, you can find out from the comfort of your own home if you can clear up your criminal record. You will be asked to answer simple questions regarding your criminal history, and the test, which has been written by licensed attorneys, will inform you if your case is eligible to be expunged or sealed under the laws of the state where your offense occurred.
To start the online eligibility test, please visit MyClearStart.com
Please consider donating to The Foundation for Continuing Justice. We are a nonprofit organization that depends upon the support of the community through donations to be able to provide free resources to former criminal offenders who are reintegrating into society.