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Clearing Your Criminal Record: Expungement

The past is often one the biggest obstacles to anyone who is trying to put their life back on track. Whether that means professionally, financially, or even personally, a criminal record can damage many things that seem rather simple for most other people. While dealing with it may be par for the course for some, others may qualify for something known as expungement, and it can make a huge difference in the quality of life available for them. Criminal Attorney Robert Phillips says, "This solution pertains to misdemeanor and felony charges in your past, a criminal record should not hold you back."

What is Expungement?

Expungement is, at its most basic, a slate clearing action that can be taken by people who have had previous criminal infractions. Expunging a past criminal offense makes it so that the offense no longer needs to be legally disclosed to decision makers such as landlords or employers. Of course, expungement laws vary from state to state, and the nature or severity of the crime can affect the potential of the crime to be expunged. 

How does Expungement Work?

It is always important to do research into what the jurisdiction in question allows to be expunged before moving to get any record sealed. Things to looks into include the exemptions list when it comes to expungement, the time frame for a crime to become eligible for expungement, what the process is to get the crime expunged and what the consequences are for going through with the action. For instance, it may not be possible for an individual to get a felony record expunged in certain jurisdictions, but it is always worth asking about.

Generally, it is much easier for people to get offenses like juvenile arrests and drug infractions expunged if they have had a relatively clean record since the infractions occurred. Drug offenses can often be expunged upon satisfactory completion of diversion programs instituted at the sentencing, and juvenile offenses can be cleared once the offender has reached the age of eighteen.

Often times, filing for an expungement on a record is as easy as submitting some paperwork to the court. Many courts actually have forms for this kind of action on hand already, so all that is required is a trip to the court itself. However, it remains important to discover the process for whatever jurisdiction is in question, or a potential important step could be missed and the process could be hindered. When in doubt, always ask for clarification. Qualifications vary based on state statues on criminal record expungement.

What are the Consequences of an Expungement?

As stated before, an expunged record doesn't have to be acknowledged by the offender on public application forms. This opens up the person's potential for jobs and living spaces as many employers and landlords have grievances about people with criminal records. While this is the most notable and common result, it should be known that the records can potentially be pulled and reviewed by police agencies and certain licensing institutions should the need arise. However, as long as the person stays out of trouble after the records are expunged, generally, the idea is that the crimes never occurred.

Expungement can be a powerful tool for anyone who is looking to regain control of their life. If done correctly and in a timely manner, those past mistakes can stay exactly where they should be - the past - and the future will continue to shine bright.

Robert M. Phillips & Associates is a criminal law firm based in Texas. They work hard to defend criminal cases like record expungements. If you're interested in legal cousel and learning more about this firm, see Robert Phillips' profile on AVVO.

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