If you have been convicted of a crime and served the time or other sentence given to you, you may find yourself wondering what you can do going forward. Having a criminal record can make life quite difficult even once you have repaid your debt to society. There is one option available to some people that have a criminal record. That option is expungement. Expungement can help to improve the appearance of your criminal record, which may, in turn, make your life easier. Get to know some of the important facts about criminal records expungement. Then, you can determine whether pursuing this option is best for you going forward. 

What Is Expungement?

The first important thing to know is what expungement actually is. Expungement is the process in which those individuals with criminal convictions can file a lawsuit to have their criminal records sealed or otherwise removed. The idea is to give the person a clean slate moving forward. 

Who Can Have Their Criminal Records Expunged?

Not all individuals convicted of a crime can have their crimes expunged. There are some set rules for the process. First of all, expungement is not often available for repeat criminals. In other words, a first-time criminal can have that initial crime expunged from their record, particularly if that single crime occurred while the person was a minor (juvenile). However, it is unlikely that they would be granted another expungement by the courts for any future crimes and repeat criminals that later apply for expungements are often denied. 

For the most part, expungements are possible with misdemeanor crimes. Many types of felonies cannot be expunged. Murder and sexual assault are two examples of types of crimes that generally cannot be expunged. However, some felonies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime such as how long ago the crime was and other factors, can be expunged as well. 

How Do You Get an Expungement?

Getting an expungement starts with applying with the courts. There is a filing or application fee associated with the criminal records expungement process. This can vary between states and even counties but is generally a minimum of $100 (though it is often more). 

Once you have filed for a criminal records expungement, you will receive notice of a hearing date for your case. You will need to appear before a judge in your hearing and provide convincing reasons and testimony that expungement is warranted for your crimes. Such testimony can include the fact that you have not committed other crimes during the time following the conviction, you have gone through rehabilitation of some sort, or you have proven yourself in other ways to be an upstanding citizen. 

The judge then has the discretion to either expunge your record or deny you expungement. If your case is denied, nothing will change on your criminal record. A full expungement, on the other hand, would block potential employers, landlords, and other public institutes from being able to access or see your criminal records. 

Knowing these facts about criminal records expungement, you can better decide if this process is the right option for you. For more information, contact a law office like Goodman Katz Koonce & Maroc.