A criminal record may seem like something people bring up as a joke or something to stress over for your favorite TV criminal. But it is a real thing, and it is incredibly serious. So how do you know what ends up on your criminal record? Does it show everything, including your driving tickets, or is it just the really big things that you go to court for?
Any charges that relate to ongoing legal proceedings are going to show up on your criminal record, even if you haven’t been convicted yet. This commonly occurs when a warrant has been issued, so that police are notified if they come across you. Because criminal records are used for background checks, it is important that the people requesting information about you are aware if you are currently dealing with any kind of criminal charges.
Some Traffic Violations
All traffic violations will appear on your driving record, but that doesn’t mean they will show up on your criminal record. What is added to your criminal record will depend on where you live, but most states won’t put charges for things that are classified as civil traffic violations, like speeding or not wearing your seatbelt, on your criminal record. On the other hand, criminal traffic violations, such as a DUI or a hit-and-run, will end up on your criminal record. An arrest doesn’t always mean a conviction, but the arrest record will stay, even if you aren’t convicted.
Even though misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes, they are still included on a criminal record. Examples of these crimes include petty theft, vandalism, or possession of weed. These offenses are usually punishable by a year or less in jail.
Without exception, any felony charge and conviction is going to end up on your record. These are the types of charges that people usually consider to be worthy of a criminal record. Crimes such as manslaughter, armed robbery, murder, drug trafficking, and other felonies are usually punished by more than a year in jail or prison. If your felony charge requires you to register for the sex offender’s registry, your criminal record will become available to the public.
Is My Criminal Record Permanent?
Just because something ends up on your criminal record, doesn’t mean it has to stay there forever. Depending on the types of charges on your record, you may be able to expunge or clear your record. Once something has been expunged, it is almost like it never happened. While you may be able to do this, it is a very difficult process with a lot of restrictions. Some crimes, such as violent felonies, are impossible to expunge. You will need to look at your state’s requirements to see what you can do.
Author Jenn Montgomery is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger based in San Diego. She writes on a variety of topics and enjoys learning new things. She graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Rhetoric and Writing Studies. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and knitting. You can contact her on Twitter.