When you are arrested and charged with a crime, the details of the case are put online for all the world to see. A quick search online by anyone (e.g. family, friends, co-workers) will reveal any crime you have been charged with, as your public record is free for anyone to view. Having that information available to the public isn't always a good thing. When you're applying for a job or trying to get housing from a potential landlord, a background check will likely be conducted. All of this information will come up for them to see.
Because many people don't want old criminal charges to blemish an otherwise great public record, it's possible to have cases expunged. What does that mean? Expunging a case is a legal procedure that will destroy or remove all or part of the records of a case. This would prevent people from being able to access information about any of your previous charges. So, if someone were to conduct a background check on you, the record would not show up. However, arrests will still remain on your record, as sealing an arrest is a different process than expungement.
Since background checks are being required for more and more things these days, many people are choosing to go through the process of expunging their records. After all, no one wants old charges hindering them in any way, shape, or form. And you will never have to disclose to anyone that something was expunged from your record.
Expunging a Case
The process required to have a case expunged from your record will vary depending on the state you live in. Each state has procedures and requirements that must be followed in order to receive an expungement. No matter where you are located, you will have to complete any probation or court-appointed classes associated with your case, as well as pay all required fines prior to petitioning for an expungement. You also cannot have convicted another crime following that original case.
In order to have a case expunged from your record, you will need to consult with an attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you whether or not you're able to expunge said record and will guide you through the process. What happens next will depend where you live, but you will likely have to obtain a copy of your conviction and move forward from there.
By hiring an attorney to handle your expungement, you can be sure the process will go much more smoothly than if you were to try to take care of it yourself. An attorney will be there to argue your case and file any necessary motions. With an attorney who is experienced with expunging cases, you can feel more confident that you will have a successful result in the end.
How Long Does it Take?
Unfortunately, there is no set answer for how long it takes to expunge a case. Because the process can vary state by state and it can take time to get everything completed, no one can expect to see the same results when it comes to time frame. One thing you cannot expect is that your record will be cleared overnight.
As mentioned above, you will have to complete any probation period and pay any fines associated with the case before you can even think about expunging a case from your record. In many cases, there is also a waiting period that can last up to five years depending on your state.
Not to mention, the entire expungement process is not an easy one. You may think you could simply file some paperwork and have the case erased from your record, but it just doesn't work like that. Papers are often required to be served to the District Attorney and sometimes have to be signed off on by a judge. In some situations, a court hearing is required in order to decide whether or not your record should be expunged.
If you choose to move forward with expunging a case from your record, please know that it can be a lengthy process due to all that is involved with making this happen. Depending on your conviction, it can take many months before everything is finalized and your record is cleaned. It's safe to expect the process will take anywhere from two to six months in a majority of cases. However, if mistakes are made, it can take even longer. It's another reason why it's great to have an attorney helping you through this and making sure things are done correctly.