Removing a Criminal Record
A criminal record can stand in your way. It can stop you from getting a job, traveling to Canada, and it can even stop you from volunteering at your child’s school. Fortunately, in some cases, it’s possible to get a criminal record removed. Here is how you can expunge a criminal record.
Determine If You Qualify To Remove Your Criminal Record
The rules for expunging a criminal record are different in every state, but there are some commonalities. Generally, the number of convictions you have and the type of convictions are what determine your eligibility. For example, a theft offense usually qualifies, but sexual offenses almost never qualify.
Most states never expunge Traffic Offenses. Each state has their own rules, and most of them disqualify driving offenses and offenses where a victim suffered serious physical harm. You might be able to expunge one or two misdemeanors or one felony, but usually nothing more than that.
Application To Remove Your Criminal Record
The next step for how to get a criminal record removed is to prepare a petition or an application for expungement. Most of the time, this means preparing a court document. You might need to make your own petition, or your state might have a form. You also need to get your fingerprints taken. You’ll need a certified copy of the convictions that you’re trying to have expunged.
File The Application To Have Your Criminal Record Removed
When you’re trying to have a criminal record removed, you need to file your gathered documents in the proper court. This might be the court that processed the original criminal case, or it might be a higher court. You’ll have to pay a filing fee. The court gives you a court date, and you proceed to the next step for how to get a criminal record removed.
Send in Notice To All Interested Parties
Next, you have to send notices to anyone who might be interested in the proceeding. This might include the local district attorney or prosecutor, the state’s attorney general, the state police and local police agencies. The police might research your criminal record to make sure that you qualify to expunge criminal record.
Gather Letters of Support
You’re asking the judge to make your criminal conviction non-public. Most states allow the judge to act with discretion. That means they don’t have to agree to expunge criminal record if they don’t want to.
You need to be able to tell the court why they should grant your petition, not just how to remove criminal record. One thing that really helps is to have support letters from friends, family, clergy and even employers. They should speak to the changes that you’ve made in your life and how you’re a positive member of society.
Attend Your Court Record Hearing
Finally, your court day arrives. Wear a professional, businesslike outfit. Be prepared with a polite statement for the judge about how you’ve worked to become a community contributor. Tell them about employment, volunteering or contributions to family that you’ve been involved with in the last few years. Thank them for taking the time to review your petition, and politely ask them to grant it.
The state’s attorney has the option to appear at the hearing. They might agree with your petition, or they might oppose it. If there’s a victim in your case, the court might listen to the victim give a statement.
Send a Copy of Your Criminal Record Removal to The Relevant Agencies
If the court grants your petition, you need to send a copy of the expungement to the correct agency. In many states, this is the state police. Then, your criminal conviction should become nonpublic, and you’ve succeeded in how to remove criminal record.