A misdemeanor on your records can impact the type of job you can get. In many cases, misdemeanor record results from a silly prank that went awry or a DUI can affect your life forever. As such, if you have a misdemeanor on your record, it is important to know how long it stays on your record and how to remove it, if possible. One way to clean up your criminal records is to have your misdemeanor charges expunged. Getting an expungement for federal crimes is difficult and rarely success, however, misdemeanors and violations are frequently expunged from one’s records.
How Long Do Misdemeanors Stay on Your Record
This will vary from state to state, but in some cases, it never goes away. However, in some states, you have to wait between five and seven years before you can file for expungement. It is also noteworthy that technically, expungement does not exist where immigration is concerned regardless of the state. Likewise, someone seeking employment in a high security job must declare an arrest even if it was expunged to stand a chance of success.
Steps for Expunging a Misdemeanor
Misdemeanor expungement means that you can honestly respond that your criminal record is clean. Depending on the state, this does not mean that the old record is destroyed, but only specific agencies such the FBI can see that you in fact have a criminal record. A complete or true expungement will result in the records being destroyed (http://www.hg.org/expungements.html). In some states what happens is a sealing or setting aside of your records so that the offence will not come up in any public search. For example, Minnesota does not destroyed records after expungement, but rather these records are sealed as explained on the Minnesota Judicial Branch website (http://www.mncourts.gov/Help-Topics/Criminal-Expungement.aspx). Likewise in California, the record stands, but information is available that show that the matter has been dismissed by the court.
Before even trying to get your records expunged, you need to know which offences are more likely to qualify. Some cases that qualify for expungement include being a first time offender, being a minor when you committed the offence, the charge was not a felony, or you have already served your sentence. It is also necessary that the person seeking the expungement has fulfilled all the requirements of the punishment and have had no further run-ins with the law.
In Delaware for example, there are set offences for which an expungment will not be granted. The State’s website (http://delcode.delaware.gov/title11/c043/sc07/index.shtml) has very detailed information on which charges do not qualify such as sex offenses, endangering the welfare of a child, patient abuse, and trespassing with the intent to peep or peer.
In general, if you want to have a record expunged, you need to visit the courthouse in your state and speak to someone to find out what you need to do. In some cases you can get information from a court website to help you start the process. The information you obtain will help you decide if you are eligible for misdemeanor expungement. The next step is to file a petition or motion if you meet the criteria.
You will need to have information on all cases and charges with which you were charged available when filing. In some states you will also need to have a copy of your fingerprint and a copy of the court trial and results. In short, you will need to have all the records of your arrest and conviction to support your application for expungement. You may also need to pay a fee per guilty charge when filing.
In most states, the person who received an expungement of their record will need to contact each agency that may have copies of their records to have them destroyed or sealed. This proof of expungement can also be sent by your attorney. Some agencies such as the FBI cannot be compelled to destroy the records even after being given proof of the expungement. To help with getting these types of agencies to accept the expungement and update their databases, it is best to hire an attorney with experience in these matters to act on your behalf.
The juvenile record expungement process is also different from that for adults. Thankfully, in many states, juvenile records are automatically sealed. However, the rules governing the handling of criminal records changes often. As such, if you have a record and have been waiting for the right time to seek to have your misdemeanor record expunged, you need to keep abreast of these changes.
Some states have what is known as voluntary expungement. This happens if you were found not guilty of the offence for which you were charged. However, you need to ask at the court office if this was done.
Regardless of what you know about getting your misdemeanor record expunged, getting a lawyer to work with you to get this done is a good idea. This is important because every state has different requirements for getting your records sealed.