A criminal record can have a lasting impact on your life. If you have changed and lived as an upstanding citizen, or the conviction happened when you were a juvenile, you may be able to have a judge expunge your record. The process can be confusing, so use these steps and consider working with an attorney to facilitate the cleanup of your history.
In most places, criminal records are available to the public. Expungement is the legal process of removing a conviction from your record. In some places, the conviction remains on your record, but the case is classified as dismissed. Certain circumstances require that convictions remain on your record, including sex offenses, convicted sex offender status and immigration violations.
Choosing an Expungement Method
Many states automatically expunge juvenile records when you turn 21. If this is your situation, you do not need to do anything for this to happen. If your record occurred as an adult, you will need to petition the law enforcement agency that arrested you. You can do so through mail. Some law enforcement agencies allow for an online expungement request. If the law enforcement agency does not assist you, it is necessary to petition the court in the state where you incurred a record.
Sealing Your Record
In some places, you can seal your record. Sealing makes it so that no public entity can view your record. If you have your record sealed, an employer or rental agency will not be able to see your criminal history, charges, dismissals or convictions. It is a good idea to work with an attorney on this, and a judge delivers a decision in court.
Seeking a Certification of Innocence
If you were wrongly convicted or someone else used your identity to commit a crime, ask for a certification of innocence. This type of expungement is a declaration of innocence that you were not guilty of the charges. The certification states that the arrest, charges or conviction should have never taken place.
Talking with an attorney, law enforcement and a judge clarifies the expungement process and makes it easier to understand. Do some research and consider which method would make the most sense for your situation, such as juvenile expungement, records sealing, or a certification of innocence. After your expungement has been completed by the court, it will be easier for you to rent an apartment, apply for a job, get a loan and do many other important life activities.
Author’s Information: Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.