Once a person has been convicted of a felony, it appears as though he would have to carry its weight for the rest of his life. Sometimes, people commit mistakes and after serving their punishment, they are looking to start their life anew. However, the felony charges can prove to be an obstacle in this regard.
Not many people are aware that it is not necessary to carry the weight of your mistake forever. You have an option that would remove this obstacle from your path of starting a new page in your life. This option is called felony expungement.
What does expunged mean?
According to the law, expungement refers to a lawsuit in which a convicted felon appeals for the records of his case to be sealed and made inaccessible through the state. If one is successful in this endeavor, his records are said to be expunged.
Before you proceed to file an appeal for an expungement, it is essential that you ensure that you are eligible for it. Not every convicted felon can have his records expunged. The criteria that make you eligible for expungement differs from country to country and sometimes, state to state. However, there are some common factors that are followed by most countries.
For one thing, it is necessary that the person making the appeal has been convicted of a charge only once. In some states, there is relaxation in this regard and you can seek expungement if one of your convictions is for misdemeanor and the other is for a felon.
There are certain crimes whose records cannot be expunged. The crimes that warrant a sentence of more than 3 years are usually not expunged. These include the likes of rape, murder, DUI, and corruption of a minor.
Usually, you are required to wait for a certain period before you can appeal for expungement. Your conduct in this period will play a pivotal role in deciding how your appeal will pan out.
Once your records are expunged, they are sealed and thus, cannot be accessed by a third party. This implies that when you apply for a job and they look into your background to find out if you have a criminal past, they will not find records of your conviction.
Can a felony be expunged?
The criteria for the felony that can be expunged vary according to state laws. However, on the whole, it would be safe to say that a felony can be expunged if it involved a sentence of less than three years, was committed only once, and was not comprised of 1st or 2nd-degree charges such as rape, murder, or child abuse.
Any crime committed against children cannot be expunged. Failure to pay child support is not a part of this.
How to expunge a felony?
As has been mentioned before, the law process for expungement might vary from country to country. However, there are some basic steps that need to be followed to get your felony expunged. It is these steps that we are going to shed some light on.
1. Ensuring that you are eligible
The first step that you ought to conduct is to make sure that you are eligible for expungement according to the state laws. Find out more about the criteria of expungement in your state and ensure that you fulfill it.
2. Waiting for the required time
There is a certain period that you are supposed to wait before you can file for expungement. The period varies according to state. Different factors have a role to play in the duration that you will be required to wait. The age and severity of the crime are included in these factors.
The waiting period commences after the sentence has been completed, the probation period has been served, and all fines have been paid.
3. Gathering the records
You would have to acquire all the documentations of your conviction. This includes copies of police records as well. To get your hands on these documents, you would have to pay a certain amount.
4. Complete the forms
Attain the forms for expungement from the state office and complete them. All that would be required of you is to answer the questions on the form. If you face some difficulty in filling the form, you can acquire a consultation with a criminal defense attorney.
5. Serve the forms
After filling them out, you would have to file them with a court clerk. In some states, it is essential that you serve the forms to district attorneys. Fees will have to be paid for filing the forms, which is nonrefundable.
When the clerk files your petition, you will be given a docket number along with the schedule for your hearing.
6. Appear in court
You would have to attend the hearing in court for expungement. It is advisable that you treat the hearing with respect, be on time, and have copies of all the documents that you had filed.
If the judge is convinced that your records can be expunged, you would need copies of the expungement order, which you will have to deliver to the law enforcement agencies.
If you are denied expungement, you can ask for reasons. If it is possible to respond to the reasons, you can make the changes and then reapply.
How much does expungement cost?
The cost of filing for expungement is normally a few hundred dollars. The cost of acquiring the documentations of the police record varies. If you require consultation with a criminal defense lawyer, you will normally be charged $1500 to 2000 dollars. The overall cost would vary, but you should arrange a rough estimate of around $4000 if you are looking for expungement.
How long does a felony stay on your record?
Once you are convicted of a crime, the charges become a part of your record for life unless you have them expunged. As soon as a judge approves your appeal for expungement and you complete the required formalities, your records are sealed and made inaccessible.