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Expunging a criminal record

Posted by attorney James Layrisson

What can I do to clean up my criminal record? Because of your criminal record, the challenges you face as someone convicted of a crime don't end after you pay your debt to society. Criminal records are public records. That means anyone -- your employer, landlord, or mother-in-law -- can access your rap sheet. This can frustrate your search for employment, housing, and other opportunities. Fortunately, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you wipe your record clean. Some first time offenders are eligible to have their criminal records set aside and expunged. Expungement is a process where the court removes an offender's criminal conviction from public record. Expunged records are "sealed" and no longer available for third party review. Not all arrests and convictions are eligible for expungement. In Louisiana, expungement can only be granted if (1) the charges were not brought forward in the appropriate time period; (2) the arrest charges were dismissed or quashed; or (3) the defendant meets all sentencing conditions. For example, a first offense DWI defendant sentenced under Article 894 is typically eligible for an expungement once the sentencing conditions are satisfied. However, the expungements process is not automatic. Therefore, the defendant should hire a criminal defense lawyer who handles post-conviction relief to initiate the proceedings. Expungement is different from pardon. After an expungement has been granted, the defendant essentially treats the conviction as if it never happened. By contrast, a pardon only "forgives" the conviction, but does not "erase" it. Also, expungement is granted by a judge, while pardon is granted by governor or president. If you have been convicted of a criminal charge and have paid your debt to society, expungement may offer a second chance at a clean slate. Contact a lawyer today for assistance with expunging your record.

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