A criminal record can affect several areas of a person’s life. These records can hurt a person when they are applying for work, school and financial aid. In many instances a person is stuck with their record for their entire life, and these records even show arrests for crimes that weren’t prosecuted. Luckily, many states have processes of expungement that will usually allow a person to wipe their record clean. A criminal trial lawyer can greatly assist a person in achieving these expungements, and they can possibly ensure that that person isn’t negatively affected their entire lives due to one mistake.
What is an Expungement?
Every state doesn’t allow for a record to be expunged, and the states that do allow this process have wildely varying definitions. Usually the term means that a criminal arrest or conviction is wiped completely off of a person’s record as if it never occurred. This means that any potential employer who performs a background check will not see the charge, and a person can usually honestly answer that they’ve never been arrested or convicted of a crime.
As previously mentioned, the definition of expungement varies considerably from state to state. Some states even use the terms sealing, expunction and removal to describe the procedure. The process could permanently remove a record from existence in some states; other states, however, may only remove it from the public records and still have it available to law enforcement officials. The overarching point of the process, regardless of the state, is to allow a convicted person to be free of any future ramifications related to the crime.
Once again, every state has different rules regarding who may or may not have a record expunged. Some states do not even allow an expungement process for people who were convicted of a crime. Most states do, however, allow juvenile records to be expunged; a few states even automatically do this once a minor reaches a certain age. The rules for adults, however, are more stringent.
Most violent or serious felonies cannot be expunged. Many states that allow expungement also only allow it for first time convictions. A person will usually have to wait a certain amount of time after their conviction, and they can obtain no further arrests in order to be considered for an expungement. These processes can easily be navigated by a criminal lawyer.
According to our Florida expungement attorney, most states do allow a person to have a record expunged if they were not convicted of the crime. This can occur if the charges are dropped, the defendant is found not guilty and even if a person was released without charges being filed. Due to the wide variety of expungement laws across the country, it is imperative for a person to have an experienced defense attorney to properly navigate the proceedings.
Ramifications of Not Expunging a Record
Most people are aware of how a criminal conviction can negatively affect their lives. While many employers state that a criminal conviction will not disqualify a person from a position, it is highly unlikely that a person convicted of a crime will be chosen over another person with no criminal record and the same skill sets.
Criminal convictions can also cause problems for students and people who recieve credit reports from consumer reporting agencies (CRA). Many college financial aid programs across the country will disqualify a person from receiving assistance if they are convicted of certain crimes. There are even colleges that will flat out deny a person admission. CRAs can also cause problems, because they may show criminal records when all an applicant needs is a credit check.
The possibility also exists that an expungement may not show up on national registries. This is usually a clerical error, but the assistance of an attorney will likely be needed to remove the record in a timely fashion. Anyone who tries to clear their record alone will usually find themselves under a mountain of paperwork and being bounced around to several agencies on the phone.
It is important for a person to always stay abreast of what is on their criminal history, so that they don’t discover a record that should be expunged by being denied a job or student loan. These records can follow a person their entire life, so an expungement is a great option to give a person convicted of a crime a fresh start.
Krista Lanford is a contributing writer for, Florida expungement attorney and board certified criminal trial lawyer, Robert David Malove. In 2005, he was honored by the Florida Bar as an expert criminal trial lawyer. Don’t make the mistake of not having board certified lawyer whose expertise is in criminal law. Your future depends on it!