Criminal record expungement law is a process meant to clear the slate for folks who've paid their debts to society and moved on with their lives. Unfortunately, it's not always a simple process, and it's wise to ask for the help of a criminal record expungement attorney before starting it. Take a look at what makes the process complex and how you'll have to handle it.
If you were charged with offenses in several states or at the state and federal levels, you will have to pursue expungement with each jurisdiction. Clearing the record in one state doesn't mean clearing it in the next, nor does clearing it at the state level eliminate federal records.
It's a good idea to make note of every jurisdiction where you were charged. If you're not 100% sure about this, a criminal record expungement attorney can run a background check to see what turns up. Notably, this may include charges that never led to convictions, unfair as that sounds.
Generally, the expungement process costs thousands of dollars to deal with. Every jurisdiction expects payment of fees unless there was some sort of law passed covering a specific set of offenses. A criminal record expungement attorney can check whether any legislation was passed allowing for a fee-free process, but you shouldn't plan on it.
You'll also want to be sure you will meet all of the requirements before you file. These tend to cover fairly obvious things, such as full payment of restitution, fees and fines, completion of prison sentences, and completion of probation terms.
Whenever you've completed any of these, it's a good idea to hold onto the paperwork you received. If you have the paperwork in your possession, make copies of it and store the originals safely. An attorney can usually obtain records of these items as long as you can determine which county handled the case. Bear in mind this is the county where the hearings were held and not the one where you might have been incarcerated.
Some states also have rules about how soon someone can pursue an expungement of their records after completing everything. A lawyer can help you understand what the rules are where you'll be filing. This can help you avoid problems with the filing process, reducing the odds that your request will be rejected.
Ultimately, you will need to send a signed petition to request expungement. An attorney can help you draw up a letter and any paperwork to present your arguments for expunging the record.
Contact a local criminal record expungement attorney to learn more.