Expungement of Criminal Records
Getting your criminal record removed or expunged is possible. It’s not easy, but can be useful, particularly if it was a minor infraction that you want off your record.
When a criminal record is “expunged”, in most senses the record is treated as if it does not exist. There are limits to expungement – for example, some states maintain separate registries for people who have been convicted of child abuse or sex offenses, and the expungement of a criminal record may not affect those registries. Also, for some subsequent purposes such as applying for a job which requires a government security clearance, the odds are very high that the employer will discover the full criminal history so it may be best to admit having an expunged conviction when applying for such a job.
People seek expungement for a variety of reasons. Some simply wish to remove an embarrassing blot from their personal history. Others want to have their right to vote reinstated, in a state which suspends voting rights for convicted felons. Some wish to have their right to possess a firearm restored, so that they may go hunting. Some require an expungement in order to be eligible for desired employment. As a general rule, chances for successfully obtaining an expungement go up with the demonstration of need, and with evidence of complete rehabilitation.
States have very different policies on expungement. Some states may exclude the possibility of expungement, others may limit its availability to people who have no more than one criminal conviction on their records, while others may be more generous. You will also be required to have been discharged from your sentence for a considerable period of time, without further legal incident. You will need to investigate the policies of the jurisdiction which issued the conviction or convictions, in determining whether you are eligible for expungement.