Now is the time to have your criminal record expunged. While there are many benefits to having a clear criminal history, these are the most cited top ten:
1. To Obtain Employment. With the economy still down and countless individuals looking for work, there are many more job applicants than job opportunities. Since most employers conduct thorough background checks, having a criminal record is one of the quickest ways to land your resume or job application in the trash can.
2. To Obtain A State License. Having a criminal history can prevent you from obtaining a state license, including a nursing license, real estate license, or contractor’s license, to name a few.
3. To Obtain Loans. Many lenders require that you divulge your criminal record as part of their application process and risk assessment. With a criminal history, you can end up with higher interest rates, or even be prevented from getting a loan altogether.
4. To Be Eligible For More Educational Opportunities. Most colleges, graduate schools, and vocational schools require that your reveal your criminal record on your application. Again, in such competitive times, having that mark against you can stop you from getting into the program of your choice. If you have a scholarship when you pick up a record, there is a great possibility you will lose it. If you are already enrolled in a program, you can be kicked out.
5. To Be Eligible For More Housing Opportunities. This works in two ways. First, you may not be eligible for governmental housing assistance with a criminal record. Second, private landlords are not obligated to rent to you if you have a criminal record. There are no statutes preventing discrimination against former “criminals.” Many, if not most, landlords run background checks on prospective tenants and having a record can prevent you from staying where you want or need to live.
6. To Avoid Sentence Enhancement. Although most people don’t like to think about being involved in the court system again, let’s face it, it happens! Having a criminal history will be counted against you during sentencing in any subsequent crimes, and courts tend to go much easier on first time offenders than repeat offenders.
7. To Join A Professional Organization. A number of professional organizations conduct background checks prior to allowing individuals entry into the organization.
8. To Travel To More Places. Did you know that travel to Canada and many other countries is restricted with a criminal record? This is not anything new. Many countries deny entry to people with criminal records regardless of how minor the charges. For example, Canada will not allow people in with DUI or drug possession convictions on their records.
9. To Be A More Attractive Date. Landlords, employers, and financial institutions aren’t the only ones looking online to dig up dirt on people. Many people meeting both online and offline use the internet to investigate potential dates. In my practice I’ve heard plenty of stories of cancelled dates because: “You didn’t tell me you had a criminal record!”
10. To Obtain Personal Redemption/Peace Of Mind. Many individuals feel uncomfortable having their past mistakes hanging over their heads indefinitely, are embarrassed or worry about their past, and are even stigmatized when people find out. This is the reason I hear the most from people as to why they want to expunge their criminal record. Peace of mind is priceless.