Every state has their own separate set of laws surrounding the requirements and limitations of criminal record expungement. It is important to understand the basics surrounding the laws of record expungement in your particular state and county first, and then discuss your eligibility and petition options with a licensed criminal defense attorney. You can only file for expungement once in your lifetime, so it is vital to apply correctly. A simple clerical error or missed deadline can get your petition denied. A criminal defense attorney can prevent that from happening to you.
Continue reading to learn more about the expungement process, and what you can expunge from your criminal record.
Expungement Laws Vary From State to State
Your eligibility, even your potential, for sealing or expunging criminal records depends on the state your criminal records originate. Look below at an example of how one state governs the criminal record expungement process.
Indiana has two laws that governs the process of concealing or erasing criminal records. One may petition for either expungement or restricted access, depending on their eligibility. And the prerequisites for eligibility differ between the two options.
If a person was never actually arrested or charged with a crime, or, they were never arrested but charged with a crime, but the charges were later dropped due to mistaken identity, actual innocence, or lack of probable cause to believe they committed a crime, they may be eligible to have their record entirely erased from their criminal history, which falls under expungement.
On the other hand, if a person was arrested, but the charges were later dropped, or they were later acquitted of all charges, they could qualify to have their records sealed from the public, which is different from expungement since the record still remains. Its access is simply restricted from the general public, including employers, landlords, banks, and more.
Expunging More Than One Record
If you do live in a state that allows record sealing, and you qualify for criminal record expungement, you may be able to expunge more than one record, so long as the petition is filed in every county, for every record, within a 12 month time span. Although separate petitions, this would qualify as one single petition. This rule varies among counties and states. So be sure to hire a licensed criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in your state’s expungement laws. They can help you navigate and file your petition accurately.