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Have You Made Mistakes? Why and How to Get Them Expunged

If you’ve made mistakes in the past that resulted in your getting a “record” whether it be Criminal or Civil these mistakes can follow you and make your life miserable (and much more difficult). Having a “record” can make it hard to get a job, rent an apartment, or get a loan or credit card. Drug crimes (including possession) can certainly turn employers off and make finding work much harder. You might think that there is nothing you can do. But if you’ve “turned over a new leaf” and are trying to get your life back on track you may be able to get your record expunged.

So what exactly does “expunge” mean?

ExpungeAccording to the dictionary expunge means to strike or blot out; erase; obliterate.”  It kind of sounds like taking a sponge and wiping the slate clean. Technically, it is a legal term meaning that if you meet certain requirements the court will actually remove things from your record so you have the opportunity to start fresh without these things hanging over your head. So, if you have a criminal record, it may be worth your time to have it expunged if possible. Even if a charge cannot be removed from your record, it may be possible to seal it or otherwise prevent it from showing up during a loan application or background check. An attorney may be able to help you with the process if you need assistance.

Qualifying for Expungement

In order to qualify to have your case expunged there are generally a few requirements that have to be met. First of all and most importantly you need to have cleaned up your act and not have any current pending cases against you. Another thing is you can’t be a “repeat offender” in other words you get one shot at expungement if you have more than one conviction you are out of luck. The next requirement for getting your record expunged is a waiting period. Obviously, the court wants to wait to see if you really are going straight so they will wait for a period of time to see if you have a relapse. The period of time you have to wait varies depending on the type of crime from 12 or 13 months to five years or more. Generally, a case that was “nolled” (i.e. Nolle Prosequi, which is latin for “not prosecuted”) will require the shortest waiting period, misdemeanor convictions will require a bit longer (perhaps 3 years) and a felony conviction will require a waiting period of 5 years or more depending on your state laws.

You can either file for an expungement yourself or hire a lawyer to do it for you. But considering the seriousness of the situation if at all possible you should seek professional assistance.

Once the waiting period has passed you will need to file forms with the court (or perhaps the Parole or Pardons board) to review your situation and decide whether you deserve a second chance at a clean slate. They will take a variety of factors into consideration including the circumstances surrounding the crime, your explanation of the crime, and perhaps any extenuating circumstances. In addition to facts related to the crime, they will also look at your overall life. Are you involved in community service organizations, have you served in the military, what is you education, employment history and any signs of rehabilitation. And finally they will examine your reasons for requesting expungement. If the scales tip in your favor you may be granted an expungement and a new lease on life.

Hopefully, you will take this opportunity and use it wisely to create a healthy happy and financially free future for yourself and your family.

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About Tim McMahon

Work by editor and author, Tim McMahon, has been featured in Bloomberg, CBS News, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Washington Post, Drudge Report, The Atlantic, Business Insider, American Thinker, Lew Rockwell, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Oakland Press, Free Republic, Education World, Realty Trac, Reason, Coin News, and Council for Economic Education. Connect with Tim on Google+