Expunge Criminal Records – An Expert Guide

Expungement of criminal records is the process of clearing an individual’s records of a crime committed. There are several other terms used to describe the expungement of criminal records. Often, it is used in correlation with sealing, destruction, or return to the subject of individual criminal records kept by government agencies.

Expungement of Criminal Records –An Overview

To expunge criminal records is to involve a trade-off between competing interests. An individual would like to pursue employment, housing, or other major life activities without the stigma of an arrest record or a record of conviction. On the other hand, society has an interest in maintaining criminal records histories for purposes of future crime investigations and in order to make hiring, rental, and other decisions about individuals. Statutes and cases reflect the tension between these interests.

There are ways for you to expunge your criminal records. In reality, by statute and by inherent judicial authority, criminal records may be expunged.

What is Expungement of Criminal Records?

Expungement of criminal records can mean to seal or destroy these records, or return it to the subjects of the records. The exact remedy in a given situation depends on statutory provisions or the court’s interpretation of its inherent power.

How Criminal Records are Expunged

Although states generally differ in how they expunge records, by most statutes, arrest records held by law enforcement must be returned to an arrested individual if proceedings are determined in the individual’s favor before specified stages of the criminal justice process. This means that the individual has the right to have his criminal records of arrest expunged if no further evidence is found incriminating his involvement in the crime in question and if no other criminal justice action is pursued.

Also by statute, criminal records held by any criminal justice agency will be expunged or sealed by court order – but not returned or destroyed. This action is often done if an individual was convicted in a kind of case covered by the specific state statute or had proceedings resolved in specified ways that fall short of conviction. Therefore, any criminal records of court filings created in a case where no conviction was made or in a case where the crime in question falls under the category specified under the statute may be expunged or sealed by the presiding court.

Finally, the courts have held that they have the power to require the sealing or expungement of judicial branch criminal records. Also, to a more limited degree, they may exercise this power of expungement on criminal records held by other branches of state government.

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