Expungement Questions and Answers


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Question: What is expungement?

Answer: First-time offenders of certain crimes can have their criminal records sealed for certain types of crimes after the case has been resolved. These convictions will no longer be a part of public record and first-time offenders with no past history can continue with their lives as though the offense never happened once the sentence or probation has been completed.


Question: After several years will my record be expunged?

Answer: There is no such thing as “automatic expungement.” Once you get arrested, you will have an arrest record, even if you were never charged or if the case was dismissed and even if you were found not guilty.


Question: Are there convictions that cannot be expunged?

Answer: Yes, if a criminal statute specifically states that a particular crime is not expungeable.


Question: What kinds of criminal convictions cannot be expunged?

Answer: Felonies and firstdegree misdemeanors in which the victim is under 18 years of are not eligible for expungement. Rape, sexual battery, corruption of a minor, sexual imposition, or obscenity or pornography involving a minor are among the list of crimes that are not eligible for expungement.


Question: What factors help decide if expungement will be granted?

Answer: The court needs to determine how your interest in clearing your name weighs against the government’s need to allow public access to your records. Your probation report is reviewed as well and your behavior since your probation was granted is a factor. If the court determines that the offense was an isolated incident and you have since returned to a trouble-free lifestyle expungement may be granted.


Question: Once the records are sealed, can they still be accessed?

Answer: Yes. The records are not destroyed and can be used by a limited number of persons and for a limited number of reasons (On questions by Government Employers or Government Licensing Applications if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you must disclose the expunged case.). Law enforcement officials investigating later crimes also may use expunged records.


Question: Can the Court provide me with information on expungement?

Answer: The court system does not provide a step-by-step procedure. It is up to you to become familiar with this detailed process.


Question: What is the legal statute for expungement in the case of drug charges?

Answer: Whether you are seeking federal or state expungement depends on the quantity and circumstances. Each case is determined on a case by case basis.


Question: Am I allowed to get an expungement on my own?

Answer: You have the right to act on your own behalf. An attorney may be beneficial, especially if the facts of your case determine the need of legal assistance.


Question: Who can expunge a federal offense?

Answer: Expungement must be applied for through the court and Pardons do not erase the record.


Question: How soon after a conviction or a dismissal can an expungement be applied for?

Answer: Some expungements may be started the day after the end of the legal proceedings, it is determined on a case by case basis.


Question: What are the costs associated with expungement?

Answer: This varies depending on attorney fees and also the amount to be paid when filing for expungement.

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