Even if you were declared “not guilty” that criminal charge is still on your record and comes up during every background check run by potential employers, mortgage lenders, landlords, and other. It affects countless situations throughout the rest of your life. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get it blocked out from your record, so no one need know that it ever occurred? That’s just what an expungement lawyer can do for you!
The Expungement Process
You’ll first meet with an expungement lawyer to determine your eligibility. To be eligible for expungement in many states, several factors must be in line. The case you are filing to have expunged needs to be closed and you must never have been convicted of a crime, either during that closed trial or another trial. In other words, you should never have received a verdict of “guilty.” You can’t expunge multiple cases, and you can’t be on parole or probation while applying for the expungement.
After determining your eligibility, there’s a bunch of paperwork you’ll need to gather and complete: an application, fingerprinting form, and a certified copy of the disposition of the case you are asking to be expunged.
You can obtain an application for a Certificate of Eligibility from your state’s Department of Law Enforcement. Usually either you can get a hard copy from your local office or you can download a PDF copy on the website. Once you’ve accurately filled out the application, you’ll need to have it notarized. Usually you’ll sign the form in front of the notary, and then they’ll notarize it. Notaries typically charge a small fee.
Section A requires your personal information and a list of the charges which you wish to be expunged. Once you’ve completed Section A of the application, you’ll need to contact your expungement lawyer to complete Section B.
Next, you’ll complete the fingerprint form that comes with the application. An official must be the one to document your fingerprints. You can’t do them yourself at home!
Finally, you’ll need to get a certified (or stamped copy) disposition of the case you wish to have expunged. The county where you were convicted should have this information. You’ll need to contact the clerk of court in that county and ask for a certified copy.
After all the paperwork has been filled out accurately and signed by the appropriate officials, you’ll need to seal it all, along with a processing in a large envelope and send it to your state’s Department of Law Enforcement. Usually you can obtain an address online.
In some cases, you will need to appear in court in order to obtain expungement for your criminal record. In others, the application will be processed and accepted without a court appearance. Finally, in some cases the expungement is denied. If your expungement lawyer has helped you complete a thorough review of your eligibility, you should have no problem being accepted. But if you are denied, you can still file for the criminal charges to be sealed, making them unavailable to the general public.