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Expungement of a Criminal Arrest or Conviction

Richard S. Lundin
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Personal injury and family law attorney licensed to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia

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11/3/2017
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Expungement is a court-guided process in which the legal record of a person’s arrest or conviction is sealed from public view, or in some cases the records are physically destroyed. The expungement process varies from state to state and usually involves filing a written application.

A person generally gets one crack at expungement, and it can’t be used for violent crimes and offenses involving children, among others. It’s usually sought for first-time misdemeanors or select nonviolent felonies.

Expungement gives the beneficiary a fresh start. The expunged arrest or conviction does not need to be disclosed in instances such as filling out an application for a job or an apartment. In addition, private investigators, creditors, educational institutions, employers, and others won’t find any information about your arrest or conviction. It’s as if the incident never happened.

Expungement does not necessarily completely wipe out record of an arrest or conviction. Government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts, may still have access to it. This scenario might crop up for crimes committed after expungement, for immigration/deportation proceedings, or when the person with the expunged arrest or conviction applies for a professional license (e.g., medical or law).

Expungements can be denied if certain criteria aren’t met. A few states don’t allow them under any circumstances. In most states, juvenile records are automatically expunged once a child reaches age 17 or 18. This enables the child to have a clean slate as they embark upon adulthood.

If you want to expunge an arrest or conviction from your criminal record, contact a criminal justice attorney to assist you with the process

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