Have you ever wondered if someone who has received a criminal conviction has the possibility of making that record disappear? It is possible to clear your criminal record, more so when you get a DUI than when you commit more severe offences. This process is called expungement, and it can be fairly difficult to achieve. However, many agree that it can improve the quality of your life, since you need a clean record to get a job, a loan, and so on. Today we are going to shed some light on the entire process of getting an expungement, focusing more on the specificities of a DUI expungement.
What Is an Expungement?
Expungement is the legal process through which you can get your conviction records either entirely removed, or diminished. Once that information is removed, you can legally answer that you have no criminal record when asked at a job interview, for instance. The process of expungement is different in the United States according to the state you live in. For instance, in California, you cannot make the conviction record disappear from public files, but you can alter it to say that the court has dismissed the case. In Michigan, on the other hand, an expungement will remove your conviction files from the public record.
Sealing a Record
Expungement differs from the process of sealing a criminal record. In the case of expungement, the state might decide to completely destroy the offences, as if they never existed. If you only get your criminal record sealed, then it will still exist, but won’t be available to the public. However, in both cases you can declare that you have no criminal record.
In some cases, you can apply for a pardon, which restores certain rights. This differs from expungement in that it does not clear your record, and you cannot say that you never had one. It is more of a gesture of forgiveness that you can get if you complete parole or probation.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
There are states that offer such certificates that also restore some of the rights that have been taken away from you due to getting convicted. The difference is that the court also clears up your criminal record, and declares you rehabilitated.
Certificate of Actual Innocence
Perhaps one of the best variations of an expungement, this certificate not only clears your charges, it also admits that the charges should have never existed. If you are found not guilty of an offense, or if the charges were later dropped, you can apply for a certificate of actual innocence.
What Makes You Eligible for Expungement?
The qualifications for expungement also differ according to the law of each state, but there are some general qualifications of who can be considered for expungement:
- A first-time offender.
- A minor at the time of conviction.
- A person who has already served out the sentence.
- Someone who has a misdemeanor conviction.
- Someone who hasn’t committed any further offences the year after getting convicted.
- A person who has a drug offense.
Also, you have to be aware of the fact that not every type of criminal record can be expunged. Here are some convictions that do not qualify for expungement: rape, sexual battery, felonies committed on a minor, pornography involving a minor, corruption involving a minor, first-degree misdemeanors committee on a minor, or sexual imposition.
DUI charges are quite common, and that is why there are states who offer the possibility of expungement. Usually, you have to wait at least a year after your conviction, so that you can be eligible to apply for it. However, as in the case of general expungements, the laws differ from state to state, and the requirements as well. But there are general requirements that apply regardless of the state you got convicted in.
General Eligibility Requirements
- You have to undergo probation. If you went to state prison because of your DUI charges, it is very unlikely that you will get an expungement.
- You successfully complied with your DUI probation. If you have not complied with all the requirements, you might not receive expungement.
- You cannot be involved in another criminal issue at the time when you are trying to get an expungement.
Steps of Applying for a DUI Expungement
- See if you qualify for an expungement: Some states such as Nevada or New York do not allow expungements, only sealing of DUI convictions, others require a larger amount of time than normal to have passed since the conviction, and so on. Check if you have all the requirements.
- Consider hiring a lawyer: In some states you cannot represent yourself, and even if you can, it is recommended that you get a lawyer.
- Go to the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Information and get a copy of your criminal record.
- Get the expungement form either by downloading it from the court’s website, or by contacting the court directly. Your lawyer can also help you with this procedure.
- Fill out the form containing basic information about you and your conviction.
- Attach other documents such as certified dispositions or your rap sheet, only if necessary. This depends on the requirement of each state.
- Send a copy to the district attorney that prosecuted you. He/she will sign it if she does not object to anything, and send it back to you.
- File the form to the court, either directly or through mail.
- Pay the filling fee: The fee differs according to the state in which you’re filling the expungement request.
- Wait between 30-60 days for the result.
- If there are any objections, you will have to attend a hearing, which will probably be held 30 days after the objection.
- If you do not get the expungement, you can reapply after a certain amount of time, depending on state laws.
- If you do get it, notify agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Attorney General’s Office.
Everything Summed up
A person who has committed a small offense has the possibility of applying for an expungement and get their criminal records removed. This is the case with DUI convictions as well. Even if the requirements and the process itself depend on the laws of each state, generally, you have a real chance of getting your DUI charges expunged, if you complete the entire process properly.