Approximately 70 million Americans have criminal records. This undoubtedly impacts their lives and opportunities.
It can create barriers to employment, housing, education, and more. The good news is that individuals with a criminal record often have options to clear their names and regain control of their future.
The process can be complex and varies depending on jurisdiction. For these reasons, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the steps involved to expunge a criminal conviction. Keep reading to learn what to do.
First, you’ll want to see where you stand when it comes to the expungement process, record sealing, or a pardon.
Particular factors will be considered, like the nature of the offense, the time since the criminal conviction, and your criminal record (if any).
Be sure to talk to a lawyer to gain a clearer understanding of the process. You want someone who specializes in criminal record expungement so that they’ll be able to conduct thorough research that is specific to your jurisdiction.
Research the Expungement Process
Next, you’ll next want to review any relevant laws and procedures. Some jurisdictions allow individuals to represent themselves, while others may require legal assistance.
Aim to understand the necessary documentation, filing fees, and potential court hearing or procedures. That way, you’ll be much better equipped to navigate the legal process effectively.
Seek Legal Counsel
You won’t want to go out alone when attempting to clear a criminal conviction. We highly recommend you seek the guidance of a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in the expungement process.
An attorney will know your specific case inside and out. They’ll ensure all legal requirements are met and help you present a strong case. This will greatly improve your chances of success as the legal system can be quite complex.
Obtain Your Criminal Record
You’ll need to contact the relevant law enforcement agency or court to make the request for your criminal record document.
Once it’s in your possession, go over it with an attorney. You want to ensure it is accurate and complete. Be sure to verify that all necessary information regarding your criminal conviction is included.
If you happen to notice any discrepancies or errors, address them right away. This will avoid any further complications during the expungement process.
Gather Supporting Documents
Any supporting documents will strengthen your case.
For example, you could include evidence of:
- Completed probation
- Certificates of community service
- Educational achievements
- Employment history
- Character references
This will help to demonstrate that you are working on rebuilding your life. You will showcase your commitment to personal growth and contributions to society.
Petition the Court
Adhering to the specific guidelines provided by your jurisdiction, prepare a formal petition.
The petition. should include the following:
- Personal details
- Case number
- Conviction details
- A compelling statement
Attach the supporting documents to help strengthen your case. Be sure to pay any required filing fees for processing too.
Attend Hearings and Follow Procedures
If your petition is accepted, you may be required to attend hearings or court proceedings. Be prepared to present your case effectively, providing additional information and answering questions as necessary.
Failure to comply with the court’s instructions can impede the progress of your expungement and negatively impact your chances of success.
Consider Record Sealing or Pardon Options
It’s important to explore other options such as record sealing or a pardon. Record sealing restricts public access to certain criminal records. A pardon is the official forgiveness of the conviction the governing authority grants.
Depending on your circumstances and jurisdiction, one of these alternatives may be a viable solution for clearing your record. Consult with your attorney to determine the most appropriate course of action based on your specific situation.
The expungement process takes time, and waiting periods can vary significantly. It is important to practice patience throughout the process, as delays are not uncommon. Maintain regular communication with your attorney.
Be sure to stay informed about the progress of your case. Respond to any requests for additional information from the court or agency handling your expungement. Persistence and perseverance are key to successfully clearing your criminal record.
Follow Post-Expungement Procedures
Once you’ve successfully expunged or sealed your criminal conviction, what’s next? It’s not over until it’s completely over.
This may include:
- Notifying relevant agencies or employers
- Updating your records
- Ensuring that your status is cleared
Compliance with these procedures will help minimize any future complications.
Focus on Rehabilitation and Personal Growth
Clearing your criminal record is a significant achievement. It’s equally important to focus on rehabilitation and personal growth. Counseling can also provide valuable guidance in addressing any underlying issues or challenges that may have contributed to the past conviction.
While it may be easier said than done, try not to focus on the past. Start fresh and better yourself. For example, you could pursue an education or maintain steady employment.
Expunge Your Criminal Conviction ASAP
Having a criminal conviction on your record can present significant challenges, impacting various aspects of your life. However, it is important to remember that you have options for clearing your name and moving forward.
Clearing a criminal conviction takes time. Through proper research, preparation, and the guidance of legal professionals it can be done.
If you are in need of guidance through the expungement process, do not hesitate. Contact an attorney today at McGrath Law Firm.
Once you get the process started, you’ll already feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.