In our society, a single mistake can have major repercussions for years and even decades. While paying the fine or serving the sentence for a criminal offense is often challenging enough, this initial punishment is often just the beginning of your problems. From getting work to securing housing, everything becomes more difficult when you have a criminal record. Luckily, for certain kinds of offenses, there are ways to get your record expunged. While the process might be lengthy and frustrating, it could greatly increase your opportunities in life. Here’s how to go about criminal record expungement.
Understand That Expungement Is Never Guaranteed
As wonderful as it would be to have your criminal record expunged, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too much. Even if you’re seeking expungement for a relatively minor offense, your petition will depend on the discretion of judges or officials. By keeping this in mind, you’ll maintain a sense of perspective and avoid suffering a terrible blow if the process doesn’t work out the way you were hoping.
See If Your Offense Can Be Expunged
As you would imagine, not all criminal offenses can be removed from your record. No matter how many steps you take, you’ll never manage to remove most serious, violent crimes. Before investing too much time, energy, and hope in the expungement process, it pays to investigate whether your offense has any sort of chance.
Investigate Standard Procedures in Your State
Not all states have the same procedures for expunging criminal records. Some require you to serve your papers with a district attorney, while others ask you to file documents directly with a judge. Even within states, counties can have different rules, regulations, and standard procedures. Use the internet to see exactly how to go about settling your case. You’ll also have to investigate what documents and applications you’ll need to compile.
Consider Professional Assistance
Applying to have your record expunged is a lengthy, complicated process. If you try to do it yourself, you’ll struggle through months of difficult procedures. You’ll also make it less likely that your efforts will be successful. Hiring a lawyer to assist your project will save you a lot of stress and make an expungement more likely. Securing legal representation might be expensive, but you’ll make up for it by making yourself more hirable post-expungement.
Getting your criminal record expunged can set you up for a more successful future. Take the steps above to get started with this difficult process.
Author information: 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: @RachelleWilber