Many of us have done things in our past that we wish we could take back. Obtaining a misdemeanor conviction is definitely one of those things and something that can happen for a number of reasons, whether it’s a DUI, possession of a small amount of marijuana or disorderly conduct. While you may not feel like a criminal due to a misdemeanor conviction, the problem is that in the eyes of the law, you are, regardless of when you committed your criminal offense or that you’ve already served out your punishment.
Due to the growth of the Internet, it’s now easier than ever for employers, landlords, universities, neighbors and even your friends to conduct a thorough background verification check on you and find out about your past, including any criminal history. A criminal record, even if it’s only a misdemeanor, will certainly follow you everywhere and has the capacity to adversely impact you, whether it’s for the new job you’re applying to, the university that you’re hoping to get accepted to, or the new apartment or condo that you’re looking to move into.
The good news is that there is a possibility of getting your criminal offense expunged though many times people hesitate to go through the process due to the perceived complications of doing so. While getting your criminal record removed from your history is lengthy and does require a bit of work, it’s a process that’s definitely worth it when you consider how a criminal history can limit or hinder you.
Here is everything you need to know about expungement in general and misdemeanor expungement in particular.
What is Expungement
Expungement rules and regulations vary from one state to another. Even what expungement entails can be different from state to state. In general, getting a record expunged is the legal process of having your criminal record removed so that they are no longer a part of your public history. What this basically means in general terms is that if you are successfully in getting a criminal record expunged, it’ll be as if it never existed.
How to Expunge a Criminal Record
If you’re looking to get an offense removed from your criminal history, it’s important to first understand the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.
A misdemeanor is typically defined by most states as a crime which is punishable by a fine and/or up to a year in jail time. Other states define a misdemeanor as a crime that is neither a felony or an infraction.
Felonies on the other hand are a much more serious type of crime that include crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, burglary or arson and are punishable by prison sentences of over one year.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, then you have the ability to petition the courts to expunge the crime from your record. The process that you need to go through to expunge your criminal history of a misdemeanor is close to what you would go through with a normal expungement. There are certain rules pertaining to misdemeanor expungement:
- The petition for expungement should not be filed before the completion of 5 years after the sentence. You should also take into consideration the fact that the petition should not be filed before completing 5 years of probation. Both these rules apply in most states but it is advisable to look up all the rules of expungement pertaining to your state.
- The court will grant misdemeanor expungement if it finds that:
- You do not have any more convictions in the intervening period
- There was a minimum period between your conviction or probation and petition for expungement.
- The actual offense is not a sex offense and that the offense was not committed against a child below the age of 16
- There is no pending case of felony, misdemeanor or other charges against you.
- You have successfully completed your probation period and have duly paid all the fines pending against you.
- You have completed community service if required by the court.
- You should have filled in all the forms pertaining to expungement properly. To expunge criminal records, make sure that you have enough supporting documents to prove that you deserve expungement.
Why You Should Look to Expunge a Criminal Record
Once you have successfully expunged your criminal records, you can honestly and legally state to your employers or landlords that you were never convicted of a crime. An expunged criminal record will have a huge impact on your everyday life. You will be able to enjoy all the benefits that you were so far denied because of the misdemeanor charge.
Although no one can guarantee a misdemeanor expungement, the help of good legal assistance and a thorough understanding of legal formalities can go a long way in helping you with expungement. The process of getting your criminal record expunged can be tiresome and tedious but at the end of the day it is worth your time and effort.
The process of expungement is time consuming and involves the filing of forms and applications, so it is always better to seek the help of experts in the field of expungement.