A criminal record can haunt a person during his lifetime, limiting access to better employment, housing, education, and other social engagements. The collateral damage of a criminal conviction or even an arrest record can reduce the chances of getting a good-paying job, entering an outstanding school, and more.

Employers usually run a background check to determine the character of the applicants for the jobs. Landlords are also careful before renting out their properties as well as college administrators who want responsible students on their campus.

Criminal record expungement is granted to qualified individuals to erase the stigma and give a person a fresh start. The statute that governs this procedure is based on the principle that those who become law-abiding citizens after the conviction should be given a chance to forego the past without being haunted by their criminal record.

For this legal matter, seeking the assistance of a reputable legal firm like Ewing Law Group will help you apply for expungement with no worries.

Expungement explained

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Expungement refers to the removal of the conviction from police and other public records after meeting the requirements and completing a specific period. In essence, to expunge is to completely erase, destroy, or seal the conviction from the federal or state record. A court order directs the expungement process, making a person’s public record clean as if the conviction never happened.

Most expungement orders come from state courts and rarely from federal courts. Each state has its ruling about the expungement process and identifies the offenses that qualify for record expungement. Your lawyer can help you regarding this matter and assist in your petition for expungement.

Eligibility for expungement

As mentioned above, the expungement process varies by jurisdiction, so it is wise to hire a professional lawyer to help you with your petition. Expert lawyers, in this case, know how to make the process quick and hassle-free. Generally, serious felonies like terrorism, murder, kidnapping, arson, sexual assaults, and robbery are not subject to expungement. However, there are rare cases where offenders qualify to apply for a petition.

Some states allow expungements after a conviction if the offenses are considered misdemeanors or infractions. Other states would only allow expungement after the deferred prosecution agreement is completed.

To qualify for the expungement process, one or more of these criteria should be met:

  • Sufficient period since the conclusion of the indictment of the criminal case
  • Completion of necessary terms of probation, deferred disposition, sentence, or parole
  • No convictions for serious felonies or disqualifying offenses
  • No history of additional crime committed since the case ended
  • Minimal criminal history prior to the committed offense

Petition for expungement procedure

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Once your lawyer determines that you are eligible for expungement, he will help you apply to the same court where the criminal prosecution happened. The judge will review your application and gauge if you meet his jurisdiction’s requirements. The expungement process usually takes about 8 to 12 weeks after filing, depending on the court’s time frame. Take note that individual courts follow a set of procedural rules before granting the expungement petition.

If in case the court disapproves the petition for some insufficiencies, you can re-apply. But it rarely happens if you have a good attorney beside you during this endeavor. He knows the legal mechanisms and guides you through the process, eliminating the chance for the court to decline your petition. Getting the best attorney to represent your petition would make the judge view your case more favorably.

What happens after the expungement?

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Once the court grants your expungement petition, you need to provide copies to the law enforcement agencies like the sheriff’s office, police department, jail, the probation office, and other applicable agencies. This is to ensure that all your criminal records are destroyed and sealed from the public eye.

Once the court grants your expungement petition, you need to provide copies to the law enforcement agencies like the sheriff’s office, police department, jail, the probation office, and other applicable agencies. This is to ensure that all your criminal records are destroyed and sealed from the public eye.

Under California Penal Code 1203.4, the defendant is allowed to withdraw his guilty plea or no contest, petition for the dismissal of his case, or re-enter a not guilty plea. A granted expungement by the court releases the defendant from the consequences of a criminal conviction. And the most important thing, it lets you answer a prospective private employer asking if you have prior conviction with “NO.” This gives you a sense of equal footing with other applicants who do not have a prior conviction.

Take note that it is different when you are applying for a job in the government. The database will show the history of your offense until the time of expungement, making it a bit difficult to get a government position.

There are also limits such as:

Source: crimsoneducation.org
  • An expungement also does not give you authority to renew the rights to own or use a firearm if your original plea conditions do not permit it.
  • An expungement does not prevent the authority from using the original conviction to enhance a future conviction. For instance, if you get an expungement order for a prior DUI conviction, the prosecution can use it against you when you make a second DUI.
  • If you are running for a political position, getting or renewing a state license (medical, real estate, law, etcetera), or applying for a state lottery job, you need to disclose your conviction and expungement if the interviewer asks.

An expungement also comes in handy when it comes to credit rating reports. While the credit reporting firms should delete a conviction in a person’s report once the 7-year period passed, sometimes they did not do it. An expungement will make it happen after serving a copy of the court order to the agencies.


With your criminal record deleted from the public record, you have better chances to get a gratifying job, secure a promotion, lease your dream house, qualify for a loan, and many other things that are compromised once you serve your sentence.

But the most valuable benefit you will gain is having peace of mind that you are truly rehabilitated and free. You have another chance to start with a new slate and leave the past behind.