Expungements: Richard D. Mere Attorney At Law
I have been asked how expungements work. An expungement is a way of getting a criminal conviction off of your record. In a few cases you can, with court approval, get the arrest itself off your record, but the purpose of an expungement is to remove the conviction. The expungement changes the plea of guilty, judgment of guilt, or plea of no contest into an aquittal, for purposes of the public record. However, the original plea or conviction can still be used as a first conviction, for purposes of the penalty for any future conviction.
So how do you get an expungement? First, the plea had to be taken under the Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893 or 894, depending on whether it was a felony or misdemeanor. The underlying crime could not be a crime of violence or a sex based crime. Also, this is only effective for first offenses, or if the appropriate period of time has passed, usually 10 years since the last DWI or 5 years since the last misdemeanor. If the plea was not taken under these Articles, it may be amended, if it is a first offense, and these provisions can be used retroactively.
Another condition for expungement is that probation was sucessfully completed. If you got in trouble before probation was over, or your probation is not yet complete, the conditions of the expungement have not been met. This remedy is available to those who successfully complete probation.
The last requirement is that the defendant has to file a motion with the court, and there is usually a requirement for a hearing that the defendant has to attend, with the prosecution, to show there is good cause for the expungement. It is often best to file this motion through an attorney, so that all of the correct paperwork is filed, with all of the necessary courts and agencies, to accomplish the expungement successfully and efficiently.