Am I Eligible to have my Criminal Record Expunged?

getting criminal records expunged

Expungement is the legal process through which an arrest or conviction is removed from a person's criminal record. State laws vary as to which conviction and arrest records can be expunged. Many jurisdictions place restrictions on what types of records can be expunged.

If the local jurisdiction permits it, an individual with qualifying arrests and convictions can petition the applicable court to expunge or seal his or her criminal records. Depending on the jurisdiction, law enforcement departments may still have access to the records; however, when a record is expunged it is essentially removed from public record and will not show up on most background checks. Essentially, if a criminal record is expunged, it is as though the crime never occurred and generally does not need to be disclosed—i.e. an individual can legally say to a potential employer or landlord that he or she was never charged or convicted of a crime.

The Expungement Process

Eligibility for expungement varies by state, but generally a criminal record can be expunged if the individual has no other, or minimal, criminal history. In many states, a petition to expunge may be filed immediately after a person is found not guilty of a crime or if a person is arrested and then subsequently released without a conviction, including situations where the person was never formally charged. If an individual was convicted, most jurisdictions impose a period of time before he or she can apply for expungement. The “easiest” crimes to get expunged include drug crimes and crimes committed as a juvenile.

Drug Crimes

Diversion programs, particularly for first time offenders, are options in many drug offense cases. Even if the individual is not a first time offender, if he or she is otherwise eligible for diversion, these programs typically provide for the expungement of a criminal record following the satisfactory completion of a program.

Crimes Committed as a Juvenile

In most jurisdictions, individuals arrested or convicted as a juvenile offender can be erased through a process called juvenile expungement. Expungement of a juvenile record tends to be an automatic option once a person turns the age of eighteen, if he or she has stayed out of trouble with the law.


Individuals should note that the expungement process is not automatic and results are not guaranteed. A petition or application must be submitted to the local court that had jurisdiction over the criminal matter. Additionally, a judge must review the petition or application. The judge then makes the ultimate decision regarding whether to grant or deny the request.

If you have a criminal record and want to learn more about eligibility for expungement in your jurisdiction, post a short summary on, and let the perfect attorney come to you!

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Posted - 03/09/2016