What Is Expungement?

by Team eLocal
Female defense attorney writing accused prisoners statements for court, advocacy

The legal system is often complex and full of words that most people don't use in everyday conversations. Expungement relates to a criminal record and how past convictions appear.

Explore the definition and how expungement works.

What Is Expungement?

Legally, an expungement happens when an arrest or conviction record is erased, sealed or forgotten in the eyes of the law. It's not the same as a pardon, which means you're forgiven for a crime. It simply means the record is no longer visible in your public records, and you don't have to disclose the arrest or conviction.

What Does It Mean to Have a Record Expunged?

The way an expungement is handled can vary by jurisdiction. In general, the records are sealed, and the information isn't shared with anyone, even when someone conducts a background check. However, some government organizations can still see the records. To get an expungement, you typically have to prepare a court filing. It's usually recommended to have a criminal defense lawyer prepare and file the often complex paperwork. If you qualify for an expungement, the court will order the records expunged.

When Is a Criminal Record Expunged?

In some jurisdictions, certain criminal activity is automatically expunged. For example, some states automatically seal juvenile arrest records. For all other arrests and convictions, the eligibility can vary based on many factors. Some factors include:

  • Jurisdiction: States and counties vary in whether or not they allow expungement. Some areas don't allow expungement of any adult criminal activity, for example. The rules for expungement where the arrest or conviction happened determine eligibility.
  • Age: Crimes committed as a juvenile are most likely to get expunged as a way to give kids a second chance, but not all juvenile criminal activity can be expunged.
  • Type and frequency of crime: Repeat offenders aren't as likely to qualify for an expungement. The severity of the crime can also be a factor. For example, the jurisdiction might only expunge misdemeanors and not felonies.
  • Arrest or conviction: An arrest without a conviction is sometimes more likely to be expunged than a crime with a conviction.
  • Sentencing: In many jurisdictions, you can't get an expungement until you've fully served your sentence for the crime. This includes probation if you're required to serve it.

A criminal defense attorney can help you determine if you might qualify for expungement.

Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by use of the Editorial Content. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options or strategies. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of the Blog is subject to the Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA&aapos;s marketing and sales departments.

ProFindr

Get the number of a local pro sent to your phone.
Please select a category.
Required
Step 1/2

Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of Elocal Editorial Content is subject to the Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA&aapos;s marketing and sales departments.

Click to Call A Pro