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    What is an Expungement?

    It’s not often you get a chance to clear a criminal conviction off your record. With all the red tape you may face from having a conviction, it may feel like you’re getting a second chance at life.  An expungement is the process of clearing a criminal conviction from a state or federal record. In other words, with a successful expungement, it’s like your criminal conviction never took place. Keep in mind that each state has differing laws when it comes to expungements. Some states will have different requirements for those who are eligible, which offenses are eligible, and how to apply.

    How Does an Expungement Work?

    As mentioned above, what may qualify for expungement differs from state to state. Before pursuing an expungement, it is best to do light research to see what your state allows. Most often, juvenile cases most likely qualify for expungement, although some states allow adult defendants to seek expungement depending on the conviction. To begin the expungement process, you must apply for an expungement order. There are also basic eligibility requirements that may vary from state to state. Some basic requirements that may affect eligibility include:

    • The amount of time that has passed since the arrest or conviction
    • The nature of the conviction
    • Events in the applicant’s criminal record
    • The nature of other events in your criminal record

    Limits of Expungements

    Although this can be a way to hit the “reset” button to a criminal record, it does come with limits. If an item is expunged from a record, depending on the event in question, it may not be completely taken off your record. There are two ways to expunge: sealing and destroying. When a record is sealed by expungement, the information pertaining to the conviction is still available to law enforcement officers. This information however is not available to the public, allowing you to receive more opportunities even if the event information is partially available. When a conviction is destroyed by expungement, all records and relevant documents are removed from the state’s system. However, convictions including any public media such as articles, social posts, or other media outlets are non removeable. These items belong to other parties and are, therefore, outside the purview of the state.