When you have been convicted of a crime, be it a misdemeanor or felony, you know how your criminal record can follow you wherever you go. Whether applying for a job, attempting to rent a home, or even applying to college, a criminal conviction can make it harder to achieve your goals. Rather than face this frustration time after time, it may benefit you to have your record expunged, meaning your criminal conviction is erased from any and all public records, and also in the eyes of the law. However, expunging a criminal record is not easy, so it is important you know the proper steps to take along the way. To assist you, here are four of the most important steps you should make a top priority.
Hire an Experienced Attorney
Before you ever begin trying to get your criminal record expunged, always hire an experienced attorney who specializes in criminal defense and understands the process of getting a record expunged. Since there will be many deadlines to meet and much paperwork to be filed, working closely with an attorney who has a track record of success in helping clients expunge criminal records will not only give you peace of mind, but also increase your chances of gaining a successful expungement.
Motion for Expungement
After you have hired an attorney to help you complete the expungement process, your next step should be to visit your local criminal court and ask for a “Motion for Expungement” application. Once you have this, visit with your attorney so they can help you complete the application and answer any questions you may have. In addition, expect your attorney to get in touch with your area’s probation department, since a report will need to be completed and filed with the court explaining the type of crime you committed, why you want it expunged, and how you have behaved since your conviction.
Gather Your Paperwork
Like virtually any other type of legal matter, getting your record expunged will involve plenty of paperwork. Therefore, before you can submit your Motion for Expungement, you will need to have such documents as a certificate of eligibility from your state’s probation department, a set of your fingerprints, statements from victims and the prosecutor associated with your crime, petitioner’s reply, and various other documents. Since this can be the most confusing part of the expungement process, always meet with your lawyer regularly to make sure all necessary paperwork has been filed, all filing fees have been paid, and that all your documents are mistake-free.
Prepare for Your Hearing
Once the court is satisfied all necessary paperwork has been filed, a date will be set for your expungement hearing where you and your lawyer can present your case to a judge. However, you should not be surprised if the prosecutor decides to challenge your Motion for Expungement, which can be done by filing an objection prior to the start of your hearing. Though not uncommon in these situations, it could derail your case if you have not properly prepared for your court appearance. Yet if you have hired an attorney who regularly handles expungements, they should be able to argue your case well enough so that the judge rules in your favor.
Though you do not necessarily need an attorney to obtain an expungement of your criminal record, hiring one will mean you can avoid mistakes that can be costly and cause your request to be denied. By taking care of the details along the way, you can set the stage for your past actions to not affect your future plans.