Expungement of Criminal Records: The Basics

If you stop any random individual on the street and ask them if they have ever done anything that they now consider a mistake, or what might have been a defiance of the rule of law, chances are that he or she will pause for a second and reluctantly recount a story. It may be from the past, but still have an effect on the person. Although they may otherwise be able to lead a regular life just like any other law-abiding citizen, it is possible that those around them who are aware of their past may be judgmental.

Although one might think that a small run-in with the law years and years ago should have little to no effect in your later life, you would be surprised to see how a criminal history can affect an individual for the long-term. This is generally because of the social stigma that is attached to people who have criminal records, regardless of what it relates to. This article will go on to discuss several key benefits of having your conviction record or criminal history expunged.

The term expunction is used to refer to the act of the complete dismissal and destruction of one’s criminal history and records. This means that they are completely obliterated and cease to exist. This is a legal procedure, the details of which have been discussed individually for each state in America because the process tends to vary from state to state. However, once an individual with a criminal record has gone through this legal procedure and is granted expunction, he or she can rest assured that there will be no way that anyone can ever go back to their criminal history. After expunction has been granted by the judge and the court, the person can go about living their everyday life just like any person. Moreover, they also have the legal right to claim that they have never had any conviction.

As mentioned previously, the process of expungement varies from state to state. In general, it can take up to six months for the entire process to be completed. The process usually begins with the individual wanting to get a criminal record cleared filing a petition with the court that convicted them of a certain criminal offense. This petition has to be filled out accurately and in great detail, and the individual must ensure that they give as much evidence in support of their innocence as well as why they deserve expunction. In addition to the petition, the individual also has to send a number of supporting documents to the court. Evidently, the process is not easy and is definitely not a very quick one either.

Still, the benefits of having one’s criminal history or record expunged far outweigh the hassle that is incurred in the process. There is nothing better than having a second chance and being allowed to start afresh with a clean slate. Regardless of the nature of the crime you were convicted for, whether it is a massive violation of the law or a small parking ticket, you would never want to have a criminal record show up next to your name if interested parties carry out a background investigation.

Ease of Getting Employment

If an employer does a background search on you and a criminal history file pops up next to your name, the chances of you getting that job will go down significantly, no matter how big or small the conviction may be. Most employers are highly reluctant to take on workers who have had run-ins with the law. Therefore, if you are searching for a job, you should look into getting an expunction for your criminal records to make the process easier for you.

If you do not get expunction for your criminal records, it means that a lot of information about you is still available for public viewing. A potential employer or recruiter will be able to see what convictions you had, why and when you were arrested, whether you were ever acquitted, and how long you were kept on probation. Many employers have clearly stated that one of the prime reasons why they do not offer jobs to promising individuals is because their background investigations showed various convictions. Thus, if you want to increase your chances of getting a job, it would do you more good than harm to go through the entire process for expunction.

Ease of Getting Grants and Loans

If you are looking at sources of grants and loans to pay your way through college, or if you want a loan for a new house that you are constructing or a new business that you are planning to launch, any financial source or bank will carry out a thorough background check on you. If a criminal record crops up during that background check, it will rarely work in your favor. In fact, on the contrary, it can play a big role in the bank or financial source refusing to provide you with a loan or grant.

The reason behind this is fairly simple. In general, a person who has had any run-in with the law has lower credibility in the eyes of others. It is believed that the person does not have respect for rules and regulations and can easily break them without any qualms. Furthermore, if a person has already broken one rule, it is thought that it would be even easier for them to break another rule if the opportunity arises. This leads to banks assuming that a person with a criminal record poses a higher risk in the form of non-repayment of loans.

For this reason, it is better if the criminal record is expunged before a person applies for a loan or a grant. If the criminal record or file has been destroyed, it gives the person the right to claim that they have absolutely no negative history with the law. This makes it more likely for banks and other financial sources to trust them and thus raises the chances of that person acquiring the grant or loan that they wanted.

Ease of Getting Housing

For reasons similar to the ones discussed previously, it would also be easier for you to obtain housing facilities if you do not have any active criminal records. Before a landlord lets out a house or an apartment to an individual, they are likely to carry out a detailed background check on the individual who is looking to rent the housing facility. If a criminal record comes up in the background investigation, the property owner may not want to extend a contract to that particular individual.

As discussed under the section on ease of obtaining grants and loans, if a person has had any criminal convictions in the past, it implies to others that the person is more prone to breaking the law and fails to respect rules and regulations. Furthermore, it also implies that there is a higher chance of this individual being a problem than another average person.

Most property owners are reluctant to take the risk of handing the keys to their property to such an individual. They may fear that the person would not pay them the rent or mortgage on time, or that the individual may exhibit a disregard for neighbors or other residents of the same housing facility. Furthermore, the property owner may also fear that their property may be used for illegal activities.

In today’s day and age, background checks by property owners on potential tenants have become increasingly common. Therefore, for anyone who is looking at a place to rent out, it is important to have a clean criminal history so that you are more likely of having a property owner agreeing to let you rent out their property.

Ease of Obtaining State Licenses

If you have applied for any kind of state license or are running for any type of public office, you may be required to reveal information about an expunged criminal record. In certain states, for example, criminal records are not expunged in the truest sense of the word. Instead, they may simply be sealed and kept away from the public. This is known as record sealing. In such a situation, it is actually possible for an agency, institution or individual to go back to a person’s criminal record, although this can only be done once the same court that ruled for record sealing issues a second order, which allows these records to be unsealed.

Some licensing agencies, for example, have made it compulsory for all individuals to reveal information about whether they have any criminal records that have been expunged. In general, if an individual aspiring for a state license or aspiring to hold public office does not have any criminal record or has one that has been expunged, they are going to be favored more than an individual whose criminal record still remains. Thus, it is better for you to apply for expunction of your criminal record if you want to apply for any state license or public office.

Ease of Access to Professional Organizations

If you want to join a professional organization or association, be prepared for the founding body or administration of this group or organization to carry out a background check on you. If they come across a criminal record, you are unlikely to be allowed to join this professional organization. Therefore, for anyone who is trying to join a professional association or organization, it is better to go through the process of having one’s criminal record removed and deleted before applying. This will increase their chances of being accepted into the organization.

Peace of Mind

You do not always need to have a material reason for getting your criminal records expunged. In fact, a large number of people seem to be doing this for no obvious reason – they are not looking for jobs, they are not looking for housing, they are not applying for state licenses or aspiring to run for public office, and they are not trying to join any professional association. So why is it that someone would be motivated to go through the entire process of getting expunction for a criminal record?

The reason why most people are willing and eager to go through this process without the need for any material benefit is because it provides them with the peace of mind that they would not have otherwise been able to obtain. Even though expunction of criminal records does not mean that the event never occurred, it does provide the individual with some sort of closure and the opportunity to start all over again. With a clean slate and no skeletons in the closet, it is easier for an individual to see themselves on the same footing as others around them. This means that they will be able to get more out of life, professionally as well as personally.

This also acts as a way of motivating the individual to aspire and work towards building a better life for as well as a safer and healthier future.

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