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What is expungement?

Expungement, also sometimes referred to as expunction, can be critically important to individuals who have been convicted of a crime, which is why they should be familiar with the expunction process. Many understandable questions may come up related to the expungement process that convicted individuals should ensure they have answers to.

Expungement refers to a legal process through which the court orders a criminal conviction to be erased or sealed which means that, in the eyes of the legal system and court, it does not exist. The process may also be referred to as setting a criminal conviction aside. Whether expunction is available, and the nature of the process for having a criminal conviction or arrest expunged, varies by state so individuals looking into having their arrest or criminal conviction expunged should understand the availability requirements and eligibility for expunction where they live and also where their conviction took place.

The impact of an expunction allows the recipient to truthfully report that they do not have a criminal conviction or arrest if they are asked to disclose any convictions or arrests they may have. In some circumstances, however, the expunged record will be under seal which means that it can be viewed by government agencies. In general, it would not be available to a potential employer, educational institution or company conducting a public records inspection or background check of the individual’s criminal record.

Certain factors may also influence the availability of an expunction, including the crime charged, the amount of time that has passed since an arrest or conviction and the individual’s criminal history. The expungement process is an important one for those with a criminal record to be familiar with just as understanding criminal defense options when faced with an arrest and criminal charges is also critically important to anyone in that situation.

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