Whenever something you have done ends up on your criminal record, you might wonder if it will remain there forever and if you will need to live with the shadow of a past mistake for your entire life. While some crimes do stick with you forever, others are able to be expunged. But what crimes can be expunged, how does the process work, and how long does it take?
What Is Expungement Of Crimes?
Expungement is a court ordered event where the legal record of a criminal’s arrest and/or criminal conviction is forgotten and destroyed by the court. For example, if someone is a first time offender, or was wrongfully arrested for a crime that they didn’t commit, then the record of that crime might be able to be fully expunged.
Every single state does this differently. Some will simply prevent the record of the crimes from being released, others will purge the records and physically destroy any physical copies, and others might protect a victim legally by allowing them to deny the existence of the criminal records.
While this doesn’t make people forget that a person either committed a crime or was convicted of a crime that they didn’t commit, it can erase the records so the victim doesn’t need to share the nature of their crime.
How Does The Expungement Process Work?
Depending on what state the defendant is in at the time of the arrest, the process will be different. Other factors include the defendant’s age, the type of offense, and the outcome of the case. All of these factors will make expunging a record either easier or harder.
Again, while the process does vary by state, some of the common steps include gathering the criminal records, filling out and sending in a court petition, and then having the petition reviewed. Once the petition is reviewed, then the court will set a case for a hearing and the court will grant expungement there.
Once the court grants an expungement, it will take around 180 days for all the affected agencies to destroy their records.
How Long Does The Process Take
Unfortunately, the process can take a while. Between the state that a defendant is in, the busyness of the courts, the time it takes to process the petition and schedule the hearing, and more, it can take months to get your record expunged. Of course, you could also get lucky, and the answer to the question how long does an expungement take can be shorter than you expect.
So many factors go into the waiting game, and there’s not really a definitive answer that works for everyone. So make sure to get the process started as earlier as possible. You might be able to file for a record expungement after you are acquitted or found not guilty by the court, or you might need to wait a specified length of time after the trial. Find out these details quickly if you can.
The best thing that you can do in this situation is to know that you can get your record expunged, get in contact with a lawyer who can help you, and then understand your options as quickly as possible. The more time you spend working on the facts of your expungement process, even if you just know the timetable, the faster you will be able to get the process moving.
The Benefits Of All The Waiting
But if you go through the entire process of getting your record expunged, then a defendant can get a fresh start despite their criminal past. This allows for an offense to be removed and then someone who has dealt with a conviction for a minor crime or has been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, can move on and start a new life with their past clean.
Then they can get a job, finance a home, and generally get a second chance at living a good life without a mistake hanging over their heads. So get the process of getting a record expunged done quickly, because the good stuff is waiting at the end of the process.