Conviction records are criminal record that’s maintained by law enforcement agencies for purposes of maintaining criminal histories on individuals. The information contained in the records might be different from agency to agency, but they generally document what the person was arrested for, when they were arrested, what the conviction was for, the date of the conviction and the sentence imposed. The information is maintained in local, state and federal data bases.
Arrests generally aren’t admissible into evidence in a court of law. Conviction records are admissible, particularly when they’re used to attempt to obtain an enhanced sentence in a prosecution for a later crime. A certified copy of that conviction is generally self-authenticating and admissible on its face.
Conviction records ordinarily follow a person for life. Many criminal defendants are arrested and plead guilty or no contest with deferred prosecution or deferred sentencing. Charges are then dismissed. In the context of immigration law, the person’s plea of guilty or no contest may still be used against them, even if all charges were subsequently dismissed. Foreign nationals need to be aware of this fact.
Individuals convicted of certain specified offenses can have all records of their arrest and conviction expunged by order of court. Expunging conviction records are highly limited. The various states have their own expungement statutes. When a state expungement order is entered, all records between dates of arrest and conviction must be destroyed by municipal and state agencies. What comes to issue is that regardless of whether a conviction was entered, the FBI maintains a database on all arrests occurring in the United States. State court orders have no bearing on federal records. Even if charges were dismissed, the FBI will always have a record of your arrest.