Part of living is making mistakes, and there are few people who get through life without wishing they could go back in time and undo some of their blunders and missteps. You may be one of those whose mistakes from the past continue to negatively affect the course of your future. For example, perhaps you have an arrest or conviction on your record that is hindering your education, job search or other plans to better your life.
Before you decide this is just the way your life will be, you might want to look into the possibility that your criminal past can be expunged. Expungement is a legal process in which the courts erase or hide certain marks on your record so that they do not show up for many background checks. Of course, not every conviction can be expunged, and even expunged marks on your record may come to light under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, you will want to learn if you are eligible for expungement.
Am I eligible?
While it is usually not possible to make criminal charges or arrest records disappear completely, you might be able to legally deny the existence of expunged charges to potential employers and others. This benefit alone may make it worth the effort to seek an expungement. Eligibility for expungement involves several important factors, including:
- The type of charge or crime
- How much time has passed since your conviction or arrest
- Whether you have been arrested or convicted of other crimes in the meantime
- The laws in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred
- How old you were at the time of the offense
An arrest without a conviction is generally easier to expunge, and convictions for serious crimes are often more difficult to expunge than misdemeanors. In most cases, a conviction for a violent crime is not eligible for expungement.
After an expungement
You will have to follow the set procedure for seeking an expungement of an offense on your record, and it is not usually something that happens overnight. Additionally, an expunged offense may resurface under certain circumstances, such as if you face subsequent criminal charges, if you apply for a job with the government or law enforcement, or if your immigration status is on the line and you face deportation.
Still, having a criminal offense expunged will likely open new doors for you and allow you to pursue some of those dreams you have set aside because of past mistakes on your record.