Can You Have Your Record Expunged?

Posted on: 7 November 2022

Having a conviction on your criminal record can prevent you from obtaining many of the things you need in life. Even a juvenile conviction can keep you from finding work, employment, housing, or entering military service. Depending on your charges and conviction, a criminal defense attorney may be able to have the charge expunged from your record. What is expungement, and what charges qualify? Here are the answers to your questions. 

What Is Expungement or Expunction?

The words expungement and expunction mean the same thing and are used interchangeably in most legal proceedings. The legal definition of expunction is to erase or remove completely.

Expunction is the legal process by which a criminal charge is removed, destroyed, or sealed from your record. Having your record expunged allows you to answer no legally when asked about being convicted of a crime.

An expungement order issued by the court acts as a legal pardon. The order essentially removes the conviction from your record. Some states actually destroy the record, while other states seal the record. 

The differential is significant. While not accessible in routine background checks, a sealed record is available for certain government agencies. When the court destroys the record, the government agencies can see that the court-ordered expunction but any associated information no longer exists.

Unfortunately, even with an expunction, a trail can exist about the charges. Although the court clears your record, the associated stories will exist in the press and social media. Many times this information is accessible through a quick search.

Who Is Eligible For Expunctions?

Expunctions are based on state statutes and can vary from state to state. Most states will not allow expunctions if you have more than one felony conviction or multiple misdemeanors. Other states will not expunge felonies at all and will only expunge misdemeanors.

Some states allow expunctions for only specific offenses, such as minor drug charges, while others will not delete drug charges at all. 

Most states agree the court cannot expunge certain charges and convictions at all. Some of these include:

  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping
  • False Imprisonment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Endangering the welfare of a child

These are just a few. Many other charges also would not qualify.

You don't have to be held back in life by a criminal charge on your record. Your criminal defense attorney can help you get your record expunged and avail all the things you may be missing.