As humans were are imperfect. We make mistakes, are made of flaws, and a prone to lapses in judgment. However, we are not our mistakes nor should we be measured by our errors. Job applications, college admission forms, and other documents often require us to divulge the details of our criminal record. Our criminal records can greatly influence the outcome of many potential opportunities. Some employers may be less inclined to hire someone with a criminal record. For students entering college financial aid can be reduced based on criminal records. When faced with a criminal record some people decide to take proactive measures. There are two different options one can use to clear a criminal record: expunction of criminal records or sealing of a criminal records. People often confuse the two to be the same but there are distinct differences that exist between the two methods.
Expunction of a record means that your record is completely destroyed. It is as if the offense was never committed. No one, even with an order from the court can view this offense on your record. On a school admission application if asked if you have ever been convicted, you can legally answer “No” without consequence. On the other hand, sealing of a record means that anyone without an order from the court is unable to look at your criminal record. Potential employers or others looking into your background will be unable to see your record. You can also deny the existence of the record when asked in interviews or documents. With a sealed record most of the general public will never have access to your record. The main difference between the two is that with a sealed record the offense still exists, but is just not accessible by most of the public. An expunged record means the offense is completely erased, with no traces left.
Generally, expunction of a record is recommended because of the finality of the outcome. However, there are certain circumstances where expunction is not a viable option. Some states do not offer the option of expunction, they only offer sealing of records. Circumstances where expunction is possible are listed below:
- If you have been arrested by law enforcement, but not formally charged
- Formal charges that have been dropped against you
- Misdemeanors or other mild offenses
- Cases that have been pardoned by the President of the United States or the Governor of your State
- Convictions that have been acquitted by an appeal
- If someone stole your identity and committed the crime in your name
There are many things to consider before you get your record expunged or sealed. The process can be a difficult and complicated one. Hiring an experienced attorney to handle the process and details can leave you with a better outcome.
If you are interested in expunging your criminal record, feel free to contact us