When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, several law enforcement entities make a record of the arrest. Many of these records are public, while others are restricted to law enforcement use. Many people are surprised to learn that when they are arrested, and the charge is later dismissed, the record of the arrest remains on their "criminal record." Most of these people find this out when they apply for a job that requires a background investigation. Some employers will not even consider hiring a person with a criminal record, even if the charges were dismissed.
Anyone who has been arrested and the charges were later dropped should have his or her records expunged under Mississippi law. Mississippi Code Section 99-15-59 states "any person who is arrested, issued a citation, or held for any misdemeanor and not formally charged or prosecuted with an offense within twelve (12) months of arrest, or upon dismissal of the charge, may apply to the court with jurisdiction over the matter for the charges to be expunged." A similar provision provides for the expungement of dismissed felony charges.
To obtain an expungement, the person seeking expungement will be required to file a petition in the court where the charge was filed, prepare an order granting the expungement, and present the order to the judge for entry. While this process may sound easy, it is best to retain a criminal defense lawyer to navigate the petition through the system. After the expungement order is entered, all agencies are required to remove any reference from their computer databases, and all paper records have to be "blacked out" or destroyed.
If you were charged with a crime and the case was dismissed, you owe it to yourself to have the charge expunged from your record. Contact a criminal defense attorney today to begin the process of expungement.