What Is the Process for Expunging Criminal Records?


Quick Answer

Just about all states permit the expungement, or sealing, of criminal records, but each state may have its own process, explains Nolo. Usually, the process begins when the defendant files a petition for expungement with the court that has jurisdiction over the case. An attorney may assist in the matter.

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Full Answer

The defendant should determine if the crime he wants expunged meets the requirements of the state, according to Nolo. Some states are very strict and rarely allow the expungement of a criminal record. The majority of states do allow for an expungement, based on how much time has passed since the crime was committed, the severity of the crime, whether the defendant has met the obligations and penalties incurred by the crime, and if the defendant has multiple crimes, states Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Most likely, a first and only offense can be expunged, rather than multiple offenses, explains Nolo. It's difficult to expunge multiple offenses, and it often requires the use of an attorney. Even those with attornies may see their requests denied. Some crimes, such as violent crimes or sex offenses, are rarely expunged. There is usually a fee when filing the paperwork for expungement with the court, and that can range from $50 to $100, as of 2015. Some municipalities offer expungement documents for downloading on their websites.

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