Thursday, March 7, 2013

Expungement - How Long Does it Take to Expunge a Criminal Record?

In legal terms, an expungement is a legal procedure where someone who is a first time offender tries to have the records of their offense sealed by the courts, thus making them unable to be seen in police and federal criminal databases. When the record is sealed, the legal term commonly used is that it has been "expunged", essentially making it as if it never even happened. You should not get the terms "expunge" and "pardon" confused however, as they both mean very different things in the legal system. When a criminal record is expunged, as far as everyone is concerned, the record never existed in the first place. If someone is granted a pardon, they essentially given forgiveness, but the record still remains on their profile and is never erased.

There are a number of reasons why someone would seek expungement and every legal jurisdiction is free to set their own rules regarding how the procedure is carried out. It is widely accepted that the word expunge means to take a record away from where it can be seen for general review. However, a large number of states have provisions set up so that the expunged records are not gone completely from databases that are accessible by police officers, judges, who made need the information to determine future sentencing and lock up facilities, which may house an inmate for a future conviction.

Keep in mind, though, that not just any crime can be expunged. There are certain crimes that are eligible and others that are ineligible for expungement. Most crimes are able to be expunged as long as a certain number of requirements are met beforehand. Some of these include things like waiting a certain amount of time between the crime and requesting expungement, not having anymore related crimes, having less than a certain number of crimes, the cannot be too serious of an offense, and a probation period completed. Some of the crimes that are ineligible to be expunged include felonies where the victim was younger than 18, rape, sexual assault, corrupting someone who is underage, sexual annoyance and obscene gestures aimed at or pornography involving an underage individual.

As mentioned earlier, each jurisdiction can set its own expungement rules. And each state can determine what can qualify to be expunged, as well as decide to not allow any records to be expunged whatsoever. If a record is eligible to be expunged, it can take anywhere 3 months and sometimes as long as year for more complex crimes. The average should be around 6 months however.

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