If you have a criminal record, you may be wondering if you can get it expunged. Expungement is a legal process that allows you to have your criminal record erased. This means that your record will no longer be visible to potential employers, landlords, and other people who conduct background checks.
Eligibility for Expungement
Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement. In Pennsylvania, the following types of criminal records are not eligible for expungement:
- Felony convictions
- Convictions for violent crimes, such as assault and battery
- Convictions for sex offenses
- Convictions for crimes that resulted in death or serious injury
If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be eligible for expungement after five years have passed since your conviction. If you have been convicted of a felony, you may be eligible for expungement after ten years have passed since your conviction.
How to Start the Expungement Process
To start the expungement process, you will need to file a petition with the court where you were convicted. The petition must state why you are seeking expungement and why you believe you are eligible. You will also need to pay a filing fee.
Once you have filed your petition, the court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the judge will review your petition and decide whether to grant or deny your request for expungement. If the judge grants your request, your criminal record will be expunged.
Tips for Getting Your Criminal Record Expunged
Here are some tips for getting your criminal record expunged:
- Make sure you are eligible for expungement. Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement.
- File your petition correctly. The petition must be complete and accurate.
- Pay the filing fee. The filing fee varies from court to court.
- Attend your hearing. Be prepared to answer the judge's questions about why you are seeking expungement.
- Be honest and upfront. The judge will be more likely to grant your request if you are honest about your criminal history and why you want to get it expunged.
Benefits of Expunging Your Criminal Record
There are many benefits to expunging your criminal record. Some of the benefits include:
- Improved job prospects. Employers are less likely to hire someone with a criminal record. Expunging your criminal record can make you more competitive in the job market.
- Better housing opportunities. Landlords are less likely to rent to someone with a criminal record. Expunging your criminal record can give you more housing options.
- Access to educational opportunities. Some schools may deny admission to students with a criminal record. Expunging your criminal record can give you more educational opportunities.
- A fresh start. Expunging your criminal record can give you a fresh start in life. You can move on from your past and focus on your future.
If you are considering expunging your criminal record, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for expungement and can assist you with the expungement process.
Here are some additional tips for getting started with the criminal record expungement process:
- Gather all of your relevant documents. This includes your criminal record, your arrest record, and any other documents related to your conviction.
- Contact the court where you were convicted to find out the specific requirements for the expungement process in your jurisdiction.
- If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may be able to get help from a legal aid organization.
- Be patient. The expungement process can take several months to complete.
Expunging your criminal record can be a life-changing event. It can give you a fresh start and allow you to move on from your past. If you are considering expungement, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today.