Getting your criminal record expunged or sealed can improve your chances in getting a job interview, however, there is a large public misconceptions as to what expungment actually means or how it works. The following are frequently asked questions concerning expungment.
Q. What does it mean to have a criminal record expunged?
A. When a criminal record is expunged, it does not mean the record is physically destroyed; it means that the record will be taken from the file and sequestered from the general public.
Q. If my record is expunged can it still be accessed?
A. Yes, but only by certain agencies who have special access to records such as the police, the government, and certain employers who have a duty to the public regarding their employees. The general public cannot access the records at all.
Q. Do I still need to get my record expunged if my case was dismissed, Nolle Prossed, or if I was found not guilty at trial?
A. Yes if you don’t want the general public to view those records. Just because your case was dismissed, nolle prossed, or even if you were acquitted doesn’t mean that the record will not be there. It will still be there and will be able to be accessed by anyone who wants to see it.
Q. How long do I have to wait to have my record expunged?
A. It varies on a case by case basis and how your case was ultimately disposed of. If you were acquitted or found not guilty you should be able to file for expungment as soon as the disposition of the case is complete which takes 2 to 6 weeks. If your case was nolle prossed or if you pleaded guilty or were found guilty you will have to wait for the probation period to run and will have to satisfy the terms of your probation. If your case was nolle prossed you usually have to wait one year.
Q. Can I expunge a felony?
A. Yes but the requirements are somewhat different and there are other rules that apply; not all felonies can be expunged. Generally if someone is a first offender and they plead under ACT 346 or Act 531 they can have the record sealed. These acts are very different and require the assistance of an attorney.
Q. How long does the process take?
A. This varies somewhat from one jurisdiction to the next but generally, once the proper documents are filed it should not take longer than 30 days.
Q. Is it expensive to have your record expunged?
A. The cost is minimal but may vary by case but generally speaking with few exceptions the fees should be between $300.00 to $500.00. It is far more costly in the long run to not take the step of having your record sealed. Its fairly easy and cheap overall and there is no reason why anyone with a criminal record shouldn’t do it.