If you have a criminal conviction on your record, you may already be aware of just how much that conviction can limit you when it comes to getting a job or even finding an apartment. Fortunately, there is sometimes the option for one-time offenders to enjoy a "second chance" through having their criminal records expunged. This could help you put your past mistakes behind you and enjoy a fresh start at life:
Understand What Expungement Means
When you have your criminal record expunged, this allows you to legally answer "no" to questions asking if you've ever been convicted of a crime. This can make it much easier for you to be eligible for jobs, apartments, and other opportunities that require criminal background checks. It is important to understand, however, that expungement does not mean you are innocent of the crime. It simply means you were found guilty, and the record has now been sealed so that it won't come up on a background check.
Research Your State's Laws
Next, take some time to research your state's laws regarding expungement and eligibility, as each state has the right to dictate its own laws. Some states, for instance, may require that the conviction occurred at least five years ago and that you haven't run into any problems with the law since. Others may only allow expungement of misdemeanor offenses. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with your state's laws, you'll be able to get a better idea as to whether your conviction may be considered.
If your conviction occurred in a different state than where you live now, keep in mind that you'll need to follow the laws of the state where you were convicted.
Contact a Criminal Law Attorney
If you think you're eligible for expungement, the next best step is to contact a criminal law attorney. He or she will be able to guide you through the process of applying for expungement, which often involves filling out and sending in a number of forms. You may also need to make a court appearance, though depending on your specific situation, your attorney may be able to attend on your behalf.
Having a criminal record expunged can be a huge relief and a fresh start for those who made a mistake in the past. Just be sure to do your research before you being the process of applying for your record expungement and work with a lawyer along the way.
Contact a law office like Larson, Latham, Huettl Attorneys for more information and assistance.