Most states that allow criminal records to be expunged have their own rules and procedures regarding filing a petition for expungement, explains Nolo. The process usually involves filling out official paperwork, making copies and submitting the petition to a local court office.
You can file a petition of expungement on your own or hire a lawyer to take care of it. Petitions of this nature come with some risk attached, since all information provided on the form is subject to perjury penalties, according to Elliot and Davis, PC. Having a lawyer complete the necessary paperwork provides some legal protection, and a lawyer can also attend any hearings scheduled for the petition. Although it is rare, a district attorney can challenge an expungement petition.
If no lawyer is involved, you must carefully review the instructions and follow all the steps as they are explained. For instance, in the state of Illinois, adult expungement paperwork is available for individuals with no criminal convictions, and the instructions cover six steps for filing an expungement petition, notes the Office of the State Appellate Defender. There is often a fee associated with filing a petition, and this fee is usually nonrefundable, states The Papillon Foundation. Petitions can be denied if you have committed a severe criminal offense or have criminal charges pending.