Although generally reserved for individuals who have not been convicted of a crime, certain states permit offenders to apply for expungements after a specific amount of time has passed from the completion of their sentences, provided they were not convicted of a crime that fell under a list of certain enumerated crimes. While there is no uniform process known as expungement, it is commonly accepted that the purpose of expungement is to conceal criminal records from the public.
Expungements are based on the premise those with criminal records an individual will have trouble reingrating into society and may face barriers from participating in public life unless they have a legitimate means of being able to honestly deny that they have ever been charged with a crime or possessed a criminal record. As a result, most states permit individuals who have had their records expunged to answer in the negative if asked whether they have been arrested or charged of a crime.
In states where expungement is granted after a conviction, the severity of the crime will play a determinative role in whether or not expungement is possible. States which prohibit the expungement of convictions (before a pardon is obtained) will often contain restrictions depending on the process taken to complete the case without a conviction.
The practical effects of expungement remain questionable when considering the number of people who can still access criminal records even after they have been expunged.
Although guidelines are state dependent, typically all records on file within a court, correctional facility or law enforcement agency concerning a person’s apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of a crime can be expunged.
While thirty-nine state codes contain provisions relating to the procedures for DNA samples and profiles of individuals in these circumstances, the burden is often placed on the individual to petition the court for the expungement of these records from state data banks.
For additional information about expunging convictions and how NLPA may be able to assist your counsel with your case, contact us today.