A criminal record can be a great hurdle when it comes to availing various opportunities. It creates difficult downstream consequences, whether you had been convicted or arrested (or both). For instance, landlords and employers may ask rental applicants and job applicants if they had ever been arrested or convicted for a criminal offense. People that respond to the question in an affirmative might notice that the landlord does not rent them the property and the employer does not hire them for a job they are equally qualified for.
The good news is that an experienced criminal defense attorney such as a Burlington County, NJ Criminal Defense Attorney can get the conviction or arrest expunged or cleared from your record. It could be a lifesaver. An experienced criminal defense attorney can apply for Expungement on your behalf to help clear your record.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is the process of sealing conviction and arrest records. There are laws in each state which allow people to expunge their convictions and arrests from records. The details vary from state to state. However, most state laws allow a conviction or arrest that has been expunged to not be disclosed, including to landlords or employers.
For instance, assume that Bill had been convicted of petty theft and later his conviction was expunged. It was the only brush by Bill with the criminal justice system. If Bill had requested to rent a place and the landlord asked whether he had been convicted of a criminal offense, then Bill can simply respond in the negative.
Requirements for Expungement
When applying for expungement, you must consult with a criminal defense attorney. An expungement offers you a fresh start. An important action that people who had been convicted or arrested in the past is that they can have the expungement procedures of their jurisdiction investigated. The criminal defense attorney will start by checking with the law enforcement agency or the county criminal court that handles the case. The following questions will be asked to be eligible for expungement.
- Is the offense eligible for expungement? It is possible for a jurisdiction to allow expungement for only misdemeanor convictions or arrests and not for felony convictions. A criminal defense attorney will be able to determine whether you are eligible for expungement.
- When the person would be eligible for expungement? In certain cases, expungement can be obtained once the sentence served has been finished such as a term of probation. It is also possible for a judge to shorten the period of probation to allow expungement at an earlier time. A criminal defense attorney can help ensure that you seek the justice that you deserve.
- What is involved in the expungement process? It might not be necessary to hire a criminal defense attorney in all situations. However, a criminal defense attorney knows the expungement process for all types of criminal offenses that are eligible for expungement. It is a good idea to have a criminal defense attorney on board for the best outcome.
- What are the outcomes of expungement? The criminal defense attorney will inform you when a conviction that has been expungement would still show up and in which circumstances. For instance, when applying for a job at the police department or licensing board, they might come across your expunged record.
Certificate of Actual Innocence
Perhaps, the most powerful type of expungement is a Certificate of Actual Innocence. It does more than seal a prior record as it proves that the record should have not existed in the first place. For instance, if you had been arrested for vandalism as you sprayed graffiti on buildings and the charges had been dropped later then a criminal defense attorney could help you get a Certificate of Actual Innocence. It helps establish that you are factually innocent of the offense.
Juvenile Offenses and Drug Crimes
Juvenile offenders and people convicted or arrested for drug crimes might have an easier path to expungement in many jurisdictions. A criminal defense attorney can determine the easiest path for you to receive expungement for an offense.
- Juvenile Offenses: People convicted or arrested as juvenile offenders tend to have an easier time getting criminal records sealed or expunged. It is an option that is available to the person once he or she reached the age of 18. There might be a requirement to stay out of trouble during that time. A criminal defense attorney will help you understand the requirements for seeking expungement.
- Drug Offenses: Anyone arrested for drug offenses can be eligible for diversion programs. A criminal defense attorney will better explain these programs to you to ensure the expungement of your records after the successful completion of the program.
Clearance of Record in the Following Situations
Conviction without probation: You can clear your record if you are not on probation and a year has passed since the judgment. It is required that all laws had been obeyed by you subsequent to the judgment. There should be no new charges or a judgment against you.
Probation: Once you have finished the probation and complied with all of the court orders, and there are no new charges against you, a criminal defense attorney can help clear your record.
Things to Keep In Mind
There are certain things that you need to keep in mind if you want to have your record cleared such as the fact that if you are a habitual offender, your age and the nature of the crime committed. Moreover, the time passed since the conviction can also work in your favor, along with community work and other factors that develop a good case in your favor. A criminal defense attorney will help ensure that your record is expunged. It is important that you know that certain crimes can never be cleared from the record like serious felines (murder) or traffic infractions. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney will make it easy to know what to expect.