Expunging a Misdemeanor Offense

Expunging a Misdemeanor Offense

If you have a misdemeanor offense, you may not even be aware of how your criminal record has affected your life. While you may have completed your court sentence years ago, unfortunately, a misdemeanor can continue to impact your life negatively because it appears in background checks performed by potential employers, landlords, schools and others. You may have been denied applications or employment without even realizing that your misdemeanor was the cause. The good news is that you may be able to expunge your misdemeanor to remove it from your record. Misdemeanor expungement is the legal process through which one can clear a misdemeanor from their criminal record.

Ways a Misdemeanor Can Affect Your Life

Many common offenses, such as driving under the influence (DUI), shoplifting, and disorderly conduct are misdemeanors under the criminal statutes of most states. The stigma associated with a misdemeanor conviction is often not the same as a felony conviction, but it is important to appreciate that a misdemeanor conviction can prevent former offenders from securing stable employment or otherwise bettering their lives. A criminal background check is often required when:

  • Applying for a job
  • Applying for housing
  • Applying for a loan
  • Applying for educational programs
  • Applying for professional licenses

State legislatures across the country have started to recognize the obstacles that former offenders face even years after a conviction, and most states have enacted expungement or record sealing laws to minimize this burden. This is especially true for misdemeanor offenses; most states provide some type of record clearing relief for individuals with a misdemeanor offense and RecordGone.com has been very active in lobbying to expand those expungement laws. Our lead attorney, Mathew Higbee, was even asked to testify about expungement on Senate Bill 530 before the California State Senate Judiciary Committee and has several published appeals which help to define how expungement laws are interpreted by judges.

Who Can Expunge a Misdemeanor?

Not everyone with a misdemeanor conviction will be able to remove the case from his or her record. The law in the state where the offense occurred, as well as how much time has passed and whether there are other cases on your record, can all affect the analysis. The fastest way to see if you are eligible to expunge your misdemeanor is to complete this free online expungement eligibility test.

While the statutory requirements vary from state to state, certain factors, such as having only one arrest, successful completion of the terms of the sentence and evidence of rehabilitation since the conviction, will definitely increase both the likelihood you will be eligible to apply for a misdemeanor expungement and the likelihood of a judge granting the expungement if the judge has discretion when issuing the decision.

Benefits of Misdemeanor Expungement

While you may not feel as though a misdemeanor is significantly holding you back, a misdemeanor expungement can provide countless benefits. A misdemeanor expungement can make finding employment, furthering your education, securing a loan, or buying a house easier. Even if it may seem unnecessary in your situation, it is best to expunge your case now. You never know when you may be forced to submit to a background check. If you find yourself in that situation, knowing your record has already been expunged will be a huge relief.

The amount of relief offered under the law of each state differs. Some states provide for a complete expungement or removal of all records pertaining to the case; other state laws only permit the conviction itself be set aside or dismissed, leaving the records of the arrest intact and visible to the public. Despite the limitations under the statute in some states, any steps that can be taken towards lessening the negative impact of a misdemeanor conviction can be extremely beneficial. You can find more misdemeanor expungement information specific to the state in which you were convicted by choosing your state from our states page.

How to Request a Misdemeanor Expungement

The legal procedure for requesting a misdemeanor expungement will vary depending on the court. The exact procedure and requirements are typically laid out within the state’s expungement statute. Generally, the process requires a thorough review of the entire criminal record to ensure eligibility and to ensure all information is provided to the court. To expunge a misdemeanor case, an application or petition for expungement is filed to the court that initially handled the criminal case.

The district attorney or prosecutor’s office must also be served with notification of your request. Their office will review the petition, confirm if you are eligible for the requested relief and then file any objections or opposition that they may have. After the court has received the petition and any objections, a hearing date may be scheduled. At the hearing, the judge will hear arguments by both sides and decide whether the case will be expunged.

If your expungement is granted, law enforcement agencies and courts that may hold records of the case will be notified. They will update their records according to the court order. This update is typically completed within 30-60 days depending on the agency and how busy they are at the time of notification. The expungement process does not remove your record from private, non-government background check companies. In order to remove your record from private background check companies, you can use our exclusive Expedited Record Clearance Update service.