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What does it mean to have your criminal record expunged?

By February 26, 2016Criminal Defense

If you have a criminal record, you may have heard about the possibility of having it ‘expunged’ – but what exactly does this mean? This can be a life changing procedure, and this post will help you learn all about it and find out whether or not you qualify to have your own criminal record expunged.

What is expungement?

Simply put, an expungement allows your previous criminal record to be sealed. In order to obtain an expungement, a first time offender needs to undergo a sort of lawsuit that seeks to seal their earlier records about their criminal conviction. If successful, this then makes their record unavailable to state or Federal officials (unless you commit a similar crime in the future).

Every state has different rules and laws about expungement, and will only allow certain types of crimes to be expunged from your record. Consult with a reputable and reliable criminal defense lawyer in order to ascertain if this is an option for you or your loved ones.

What are the benefits of having your record expunged?

The benefits of having your record expunged can hardly be overstated. If your petition is successful, your criminal record will be completely forgotten. This will allow you to move on with your life unencumbered by your past mistakes. You will be able to sigh with relief when dealing with law enforcement, applying for employment and meeting with potential landlords.

Is expungement the same as a pardon? 

No. Think of a pardon as being forgiven and expungement as being forgotten. Once expunged, your criminal record can only be used against you in the rare circumstances detailed below.

Could your record ever be unsealed?

While having your record expunged will certainly go a long way when it comes to protecting your reputation and helping your future, having your record expunged is not a completely clean slate. Your past criminal record could be used against you in the future in these cases:

  • You are convicted of another crime – Your otherwise expunged record could be brought up and used against you in the event that you commit another similar crime.
  • You seek certain types of employment or licenses – While every state is different, some will insist on taking your expunged crimes into account if you apply for certain kinds of jobs and/ or licenses. The state of Florida allows expunged crimes to be disclosed to the Florida Bar, the Department of Children and Families, the Board of Education and other law enforcement agencies.
  • You face deportation or immigration violations – Even if you have had your entire record expunged, this information can be brought up again if you face deportation or encounter any other immigration violations.

If you are hoping to have your own criminal record expunged or would like more information, remember – it is always of vital importance that you hire the right criminal defense attorney to help you with your case.