Past convictions, especially for felonies, can make it difficult to get jobs, loans, and effects life's many important details. Getting a conviction expunged can make life a lot easier. Through a process called "dismissal" the conviction can be removed from a criminal record, though the arrest itself will remain.
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Things you need
- A copy of your criminal record
- Petition for Dismissal Form
Get a copy of your criminal record. Just finding out what is on your record can be a time-consuming process, and might involve multiple jurisdictions. In most cases it involves physically appearing before the relevant law enforcement agency and submitting fingerprints. Eventually, a list of your public criminal history will be mailed. To obtain a federal criminal record consult with the FBI.
Identify expungeable offences. Not every crime can be removed from a criminal record. Those involving violent sexual misconduct, or sexual acts involving minors cannot be expunged in many states. To verify that your crimes can be expunged, consult with a lawyer or legal professional.
Qualify for dismissal. Even if the crimes you've been convicted of can be expunged, the court will not grant dismissal to every applicant. Certain minimum requirements apply. For example, in California, the law permits dismissal when the defendant did not serve a state prison sentence related to the crime and has successfully completed the terms of their probation. Any and all the fines, restitution, and reimbursements ordered by the court must be paid, and the defendant must not currently be charged with, serving the sentence of or be on probation for another offence. If there was no probation, then at least one year must have elapsed since the date of conviction. Again, consult with an attorney for the requirements in your state.
File petition. Assuming you and your crime qualify for dismissal, the petition form can be as short as a single page. Unless there is an extenuating circumstance that makes the judge unwilling to grant dismissal, most applications meeting the above described requirements are granted.
Tips and warnings
- As a general rule of thumb, to have a criminal record expunged you have to be free and clear of current charges and have successfully completed probation.
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