Having a criminal record may limit your access to employment, housing and education. However, some states such as Oklahoma have created expungement laws to seal criminal records after a period of time. Although the crime does not always disappear completely, expungement offers some benefits.
Who’s eligible for expungement?
To gain eligibility, you must have completed your sentence, probation or parole. However, every state has some crimes that are eligible for expungement. While misdemeanors are subject to expungement in almost all states, just a handful of states offer expungement for felonies.
For successful expungement, you must wait for a while after your jail term ends. Additionally, during this time, you must not receive another conviction. In most states, the judge will consider how serious the crime was, previous convictions and behavior after conviction before expunging your record.
Filing for expungement
Although the criminal defense processes differ between states, you must typically file a petition with the court of conviction. Most states require you to fill a form asking for expungement. Some of these forms are straightforward while others are complex, requiring the assistance of an attorney. However, some states have an automatic expungement process to seal all records for a person after a certain amount of time has passed with no further criminal activity.
Effects of sealing a record
There’s no definite effect of expungement. Although your criminal record is still available to law enforcers, some states seal it from the public. In other states, the conviction says dismissed, so there’s no need for you to disclose your expunged conviction if asked when applying for a job or housing.
Many states have improved their expungement laws, so it’s advisable that you consult an attorney to check your eligibility for expungement for a past conviction. An attorney may aid you in navigating through the expungement process in your state.