How to clear a criminal record

Written by carmen l. diaz
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How to clear a criminal record

Clearing your criminal record is a necessity in today's economy where there is so much competition for jobs, housing and assistance from government and lending institutions. A criminal record can keep you away from good opportunities. There are different ways in which you can clear your past record. Here we will talk about how to clear you criminal record by a very common way--by getting it expunged.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Copy of your criminal record
  • Forms you need to file with the court
  • Supporting documents (diplomas, transcripts, letters of recommendation)
  • Conservative attire for the hearing

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Order a copy of your criminal record to check the information that appears in it. It is important that you know the information recorded in your record to see if you quality to have your criminal record expunged. Different jurisdictions have different criteria they go by, but basically several years must have passed since your last offence and you have to show that you have turned your life around and have not been involved in any more crimes since the last one. Also, you must not have been convicted to spend time at a state prison. You can visit the courthouse in the jurisdiction where you were found guilty and speak with the public defender's office. They will be able to help you with any questions you might have.

  2. 2

    Determine if you can do this process by yourself or if you need the assistance of an attorney. Most of the time this is a simple process where you can file for the petition by yourself, but there are situations in which it is best to consult an attorney. These situations include sexual misdemeanour offences, conviction of a felony or of attempt to commit a felony that could carry a life-imprisonment sentence. If you decide it will be better for you to do this with the assistance of an attorney, show him a copy of your criminal record so that he can advise you on the best course of action.

  3. 3

    Get the forms you will need to file with the court. You can get them through the courthouse of the jurisdiction where you were convicted. Nowadays, you can also find them online.

  4. 4

    Get ready all the information--such as case number, dates, and the codes and sections that were violated--that you need to fill out the forms. Also, whether you entered a plea or there was a verdict, if you served probation for your offences and if the judge ordered you to pay restitution, reimburse any money or pay a fine. You will also need to know the name of the correctional facility where you spent time and, if you were paroled, the date in which it ended.

  5. 5

    Fill out the form. Read carefully as you fill it out and answer only the questions that apply to you. According to kinseylaw.com, there are several options that you can petition depending on your situation. If you were convicted of a felony, you can ask the court to reduce it to a misdemeanour and discharge it if you were not put on probation. You can also request an early release from probation and ask to have the conviction dismissed.

  6. 6

    File your motion with the court in which you were convicted (or adjudicated if you were a minor). Include supporting materials that will prove that you deserve to have your criminal record dismissed, such as diplomas showing you have been bettering yourself, school transcripts showing that you have been making an effort to do well and letters of recommendation from people who can tell the judge that you are now a good and honest citizen.

  7. 7

    Check your mailbox. The court will send you a notice for a hearing to see the judge.

  8. 8

    Attend the hearing. Dress conservatively in clean and pressed clothes, and show up on time for your hearing. In most cases, the hearing will be with the judge who convicted you, but it is also possible that another judge will take her place. Be very respectful of the employees you come in contact with at the courthouse. Say "please," "thank you" and "your honor." Explain to the judge the purpose of your petition and why you think you deserve to have your record cleared. The hearing also gives any person who opposes the court clearing your record the opportunity to speak, so be prepared and keep calm if that happens. Remember that you have to show that you have rehabilitated yourself and grown as a responsible person. State your points calmly.

  9. 9

    Wait for the decision. You will hear the judge's decision at the hearing or you will receive the decision by mail. The judge may say that your motion was granted, meaning your criminal record is declared never to have existed, or she may deny it. If it is denied, speak with the court's clerk about the reason for the denial and see if you can file again.

Tips and warnings

  • If you acquired a record when you were a juvenile, do not assume that it was automatically sealed. Unless you petition the court to have the charges dismissed, your record won't get sealed until your 38th birthday.

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