After you are arrested for driving under the influence, or if you have been convicted of a crime, you may qualify to have your criminal record expunged or sealed. Some legal professionals call expungement a setting aside. This means that, when a new landlord, educational institution or employer checks your criminal history, nothing shows up. When you are filling out applications for employment, admission to college or to rent a home, you don't have to include that information. For persons who were arrested or convicted of underage DUI, this can help them move forward from the actions of their youth as they work to gain a fresh start on their lives.
Just because you are able to get an arrest or conviction sealed does not
mean that it will never be seen again. Law enforcement, criminal courts
and some government agencies can still get a copy of your record. When
this happens, your criminal history is only considered to be under seal,
not completely expunged.
To be eligible to apply for an expungement of your criminal record, your situation must fall under several categories.
These factors include how much time has passed since you were arrested
or convicted and your entire criminal history, including arrests or
convictions in other jurisdictions. The final factor is the nature of
the crime for which you are seeking expungement. If you want to get a
DUI or a shoplifting conviction sealed, this will be easier than getting
a sex offense or an attempted murder conviction sealed. The final
category that affects your ability to get your record expunged touches
on any other crimes you may have committed. Again, more serious crimes
will make it harder for you to get an expungement.
The expungement procedure requires that you must actively work to get
the paperwork to the district attorney. It does not happen automatically
once your probation or parole has been satisfied. You may also be
required to fill out the application for expungement yourself or deliver
the paperwork. After all of this, you need to take the completed and
signed petition to the correct court. In addition, you may be required
to pay a filing fee to the court. Once all of these steps have been
completed, the court where you filed the paperwork schedules an
expungement hearing. Even when you have jumped through all of these
hoops, you don't know whether your criminal history is going to be
expunged because the judge has to take all of the above factors into
consideration before he makes up his mind. The judge may consider your
motivation in completing the process, but he still has to look at the
nature of the crime for which you are requesting expungement.
Should you commit another crime, the court can legally look at your past
criminal history and use that as a basis for sentencing you for the new
crime. An immigration attorney can also pull up your past criminal
history when he petitions to have you deported back to your country of
birth. He is legally able to present the evidence of your past crime or
crimes to the immigration judge as proof that you should not be allowed
to remain in the United States.
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