Expungement is a term used in the United States legal system to describe the removal of criminal conviction or charge in the eyes of the law. Requests for expungements can be for any number of reasons, and the process can be very different depending on where you are in the United States. Additionally, the amount of time required and the representation needed can also vary.
In most cases when you seek an expungement your charges or conviction will be erased from your criminal record. In some cases, you may hear reference to expunged records being sealed from the court, etc. in both examples the same process is involved. Once an expungement is completed for you, you will no longer be required to disclose information about the event on:
- Apartment Applications
- Job Applications
- Education Applications
- Many but not all other places where disclosing your previous criminal history could affect your future
Neither record of the crime committed or your expungement will appear if a prospective employer or other company completes a background check.
The Benefits of Expungement
There are numerous benefits of expungement. The first is that you will no longer have to disclose a previous conviction to anyone. Having a conviction on your record, especially a felony conviction, can hinder your ability to lead a normal life. People assume that those with convictions are bad people. However, often, these people just made a simple mistake or had a lapse in judgment.
The second benefit of expungement is the restoration of your rights. A felony conviction means that your rights to vote and own a gun are taken away. However, expungement could speed up the process of restoring your rights.
Lastly, expungement allows you to qualify for government assistance programs that you may not have had access to otherwise. For instance, housing programs and some grants are not available to felons.
To qualify for expungement, you must meet certain requirements. These requirements vary from state to state. However, there are some common requirements. For instance, most states do not allow you to expunge your record if you have a previous conviction. Expungement is meant for individuals that have made a mistake and aren’t repeat offenders.
There are also waiting periods for expungement depending on the severity of the crime. The weighting periods in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are:
- Juveniles must wait three years to apply for expungement.
- People found guilty of a misdemeanor must wait for five years.
- Felony convictions require a ten year waiting period.
- People who are found not guilty or have the charges dismissed can file for expungement immediately
We Can Help
The Law Office of John MacDonald, Inc. can help you remove unwanted items from your criminal record. Contact us today and be on your way to a more normal life.