If you have ever been arrested or convicted for a crime, you likely know how difficult it can be to have a criminal record. Criminal records can impact your employment and housing opportunities, and will show up in any other circumstances where a background check is conducted. Luckily, in certain circumstances, expungement of such records is possible.

Expungement is a legal order from the court that destroys your criminal record, so that the information is not accessible to anyone who may inquire about it, including the courts or police. The record cannot be viewed on a background check or any other request for criminal information. Anyone who has been arrested likely has a criminal record, even if they were not convicted, and such records are accessible to the public unless expungement occurs. Only certain types of crimes can be expunged, however. Offenses that are eligible for expunction include:

  • First time DUI
  • First time drug offenses
  • Underage drinking
  • Offenses for which a person was pardoned
  • Summary offenses (including traffic violations) if five years have passed and no other arrests have occurred

Misdemeanor offenses can also be expunged after ten years if they meet certain requirements. namely that the misdemeanor was a second or third-degree non-violent offense, that the individual has not received any other criminal charges during the ten-year period and that the misdemeanor is not punishable by more than two years in prison.

To begin the process of expungement, you or your attorney files a petition with the court in the county where your arrest occurred for expungement. The petition must be precisely followed according to the court of that county. Once filed, the state has a set period of time to consent to the request for expungement or to challenge the petition. If the state challenges the petition, a hearing will typically be held with the court to determine if expungement is appropriate. If the state consents, the court will likely grant the petition without a hearing.

If you have a criminal record, you may want to explore the possibility of whether expungement is possible. An experienced criminal attorney can help advise you on the possibility of expungement and also guide you through the process of requesting your records and filing a petition with the court. Because the expungement process is detailed and must be followed precisely, it may be helpful to have an attorney review your materials with you before they are submitted.

At Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law, I understand the importance of expungement and can assist you in seeking expungement of your records, as well as answering any questions you may have. To speak with me at my Somerset office, please call 814-443-1631 or contact me online.