If you have a criminal record, you may be eligible to have it removed, or expunged, from publicly available records. Expunging the record will, for most purposes, enable you to maintain a clean criminal background. Once expunged, the records can only be used for sentencing guidelines if you are convicted again. They will not show up on criminal background checks for job or housing applications. Not all criminal records are eligible to be expunged. Restrictions vary by state and jurisdiction.
Determine your eligibility based on jurisdiction guidelines. See the FindLaw reference provided for quick access to your state's specific expungement guidelines.
File a motion with the court you were convicted in to have the record expunged. An attorney is not necessary, but can be hired if you desire.
Gather all necessary documents for the application to expunge. This includes an original copy of the judgment, application fees, fingerprints and any other documents required by the specific jurisdiction.
Fill out the application. Specific docket information will be needed from the original copy of the judgment. Make the specified number of copies of the judgment and the application. For example, Michigan requires five copies of the application and four copies of a certified copy of the original judgment.
Mail or deliver the documents to the court as specified in the jurisdictional guidelines. The court will assign a hearing date and return your copies with information added.
Mail the court-edited copies and other required information to the agencies indicated by the jurisdiction's application process. These agencies will conduct investigations as to your eligibility and more documents will be mailed to you for completion.
Fill out all required information and make copies for your records before returning the forms to the appropriate agencies.
Attend the hearing set up for you by the court. Answer any questions from the judge. Be prepared to provide proof of your rehabilitation in the form of work history, rehabilitative treatment or educational accomplishments.