What Crimes and Felonies Cannot Be Expunged?
People with criminal records may have an option to have these records expunged from their criminal history. In short, this can allow a person’s criminal history to be treated as if it never happened, with some exceptions.
Not all crimes can be expunged. It depends on the crime and applicable state law. Expungement laws, rules, and procedures vary drastically by state. Continue reading to learn more about what crimes and felonies typically cannot be expunged and the expungement process.
Why Consider Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process in which a person can petition the applicable state or local court to have their criminal records sealed from public databases.
A main advantage of petitioning for an expungement, if eligible, is that potential employers will have a harder time finding out about prior crimes or arrests. Records for the conviction, arrest, or both can be expunged and sealed from public databases and background check databases.
Persons that get crimes expunged from their records also can usually answer no to questions about whether they have past criminal convictions. Moreover, expungement can help people with prior convictions when they are applying for housing or higher education. It may also open more access to voting where criminal convictions are preventing their eligibility to vote.
Limits to Sealed Records
Note that there are some exceptions to sealed records and the access or disclosure of them. Most law enforcement agencies will still have access to records for an expunged conviction and arrest records. Also, some states require disclosing criminal records that were expunged to potential employers for certain types of jobs. These may include jobs that involve working with children, law enforcement, or financial services. Moreover, expunged records may still need to be disclosed when applying for some professional licenses.
What Crimes Can and Cannot Be Expunged?
While expungement varies by state law, the types of crimes for which expungement is available typically include minor offenses and crimes committed by a juvenile. Also, non-conviction records can often be expunged.
Crimes involving violence, endangerment to children, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, arson, terrorism, and severe injury or death of another person typically are not eligible for expungement. This is not always the case though in every state and may not be the case based on the specifics of the person’s charges that are seeking to have a criminal record expunged, including whether there was a conviction.
Felony charges are also extremely difficult to expunge, especially if they resulted in a conviction. Sometimes it is not possible to have a felony conviction expunged. Felonies are serious crimes. Since the focus of expungement is on the nature of the crime and the facts surrounding it, then crimes that result in felony charges or felony convictions are going to be much more difficult in general, regardless of the state, to get expunged.
Arrest records can often show up in background checks and public databases even if they did not result in a conviction. Most states will expunge non-conviction records. Some states will also expunge criminal records for certain crimes that resulted in a conviction.
Usually, juvenile crimes and most misdemeanors or minor crimes are easier to get expunged. Difficulties can arise though if the person has an extensive criminal record.
Arrest records are not always made public but may show up in background checks. This is so even if there was no conviction. Some states will expunge them, especially when there was no conviction. If they resulted in a conviction, then they may be expunged as part of the petition to expunge the criminal record. The process on arrest records and how they are expunged varies by state.
The laws on this are complicated and nuanced. Anyone concerned about non-conviction records or arrest records should inquire about the state’s expungement rules for such records. This may also be necessary even when a petition is requested for a criminal conviction to be expunged. While the criminal conviction records may be expunged through a successful petition with the court, it is not always the case that the arrest records are expunged as well.
Future Crimes and Expungement
A successfully expunged criminal record may not stay sealed if the person is later involved again with the criminal justice system. Moreover, many states will not expunge a criminal conviction if someone already had another earlier crime expunged from their record, especially if it is the same offense. Here the first crime may possibly stay expunged, but it may still be used as a factor in the severity of charges brought for the later crime(s), and also the expunged crime may be considered during sentencing, resulting in more severe penalties.
If a person is seeking to get a crime expunged but has criminal charges that have occurred after that crime, then it will add another hurdle. Subsequent criminal history will be considered when a petition to expunge a criminal conviction is reviewed. In some states or instances, other criminal history will bar persons from seeking expungement of criminal charges entirely.
Can My Felony be Expunged?
Some states will allow for felonies to be expunged. However, this is very difficult and may not be possible depending on the state, the time that has gone by since the conviction, the person’s criminal record, and the nature of the crime. Some states may expunge more easily for felonies and other criminal convictions if there has been a long period of time since the crime was committed.
Also, if a person is trying to have a felony conviction expunged that occurred in another state, then the other state’s laws and procedures need will determine expungement eligibility. For example, there are some states that will expunge DUI/DWI convictions while others will not.
Usually states will not allow felonies to be expunged for violent felonies, sexual assaults, and other serious crimes such as endangerment to children, crimes involving weapons or arson, and perjury. While the exact laws vary by state, these types of crimes are unlikely to be eligible for expungement, especially if it is a felony.
Also, most states will not expunge felony convictions, regardless of the crime. For those states, however, there may still be an option to expunge felony records if the case did not result in a conviction or if it was dismissed, pardoned, abandoned, or withdrawn.
Process for Expungement
Usually, where an expungement is an option, the person seeking it will need to petition the court for expungement and follow the state-specific rules. There may be conditions that need to be met prior to petitioning the court for expungement. Additionally, there are procedural rules that must be followed. Documents will likely also need to be gathered to support the request for expungement.
Need Help With the Expungement Process?
Due to the complex nature of the expungement process and the varying state laws and procedural rules, anyone considering seeking an expungement for a criminal conviction or a felony should consider contacting an attorney with the facts of their cases to set up an initial consultation on expungement eligibility and process.
If you need help with determining the state requirements for a criminal record that you want expunged, or help with going through the expungement process, contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. by filling out our contact form to receive a call from someone to chat about your possible expungement case.
The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.