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Is Felony Expungement Possible for You?

By Last update June 26, 2015
Find out if felony expungement is an option

Finding out if felony expungement is possible for you is a vital step to take once you leave prison. Having a criminal record can create a lot of problems for you throughout the job search. Employers will often ask if you have been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense on the job application before you even have a chance to talk to anyone. If that criminal record is expunged, you don’t have to bring it up at all!

Is felony expungement possible for you?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and get those arrests and convictions taken off your record forever?

This is where felony expungement comes in

Felony expungement is the process of sealing or destroying arrest and conviction records. This means that your criminal record will no longer be in state or federal records. Without a state or federal criminal record, you will be treated as if the offenses never occurred, at least from a legal standpoint.

How great is that?

While an employer may still be able to find news reports of your crimes on the internet, they will not show up on many criminal background checks. This is a huge benefit! Being able to apply for a job without worrying that your criminal past will be counted against you can be tremendously helpful.

Nearly every state has created laws that allow citizens to expunge arrests and convictions from their records. Every state has a different process and rules, but most state laws say that once an arrest or conviction has been expunged, it doesn’t need to be disclosed to potential employers.

Therefore, when filling out a job application that asks “Have you been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony,” you can legally answer “No” if your misdemeanors or felonies have been expunged.

We cannot express how valuable felony expungement can be to someone looking for a job. One of the first things you should be doing in your job search is researching the procedures for expungement of your convictions. You should start by checking with your county’s criminal court or the law enforcement agency that arrested you.

Ask them the following four questions to get additional information on the process of felony expungement of your record:

  • Is my offense eligible for felony expungement? Every jurisdiction has different laws for which arrests and convictions may be expunged. You want to ensure you are eligible before spending a lot of time and effort on this process.
  • When would I be eligible for felony expungement? Every jurisdiction also has different laws that say when you would be eligible to expunge your record. You need to find out exactly when.
  • How does the felony expungement process work? The felony expungement process is different everywhere. You want to get clear instruction as to what the process is and if you will need to hire an attorney.
  • What happens to my records after the felony expungement process? You want to have a good understanding of what happens to your record after the felony expungement process. Can police departments still view your records? Will background checks show your convictions? You want to know exactly who will be able to see your record and under what circumstances.

Is Felony Expungement Possible For You? - subheader

Look into a Certificate of Actual Innocence

Even more powerful than the felony expungement of your record is a Certificate of Actual Innocence. This certificate goes beyond just sealing your record by legally stating that your record should never have existed at all. The Certificate of Actual Innocence is most common when you were arrested and the charges were dropped or you were found not guilty after a trial.

In many places, those who have been arrested or convicted for drug crimes or are juvenile offenders may have an easier time getting their records expunged but everyone with a record should look into it. It only takes a few minutes to find out if you are eligible and the benefits of felony expungement are enormous during a job search!

Adam Sanders has worked as a reentry advisor, program leader, and teacher at San Quentin State prison in San Quentin California for several years. He co-founded San Quentin's financial literacy program and is passionate about helping former offenders successfully re-enter society and find personal and financial success. Adam also has nearly a decade of experience working in Marketing and Finance for large software companies and an MBA from Northwestern University.