Having a criminal record can weigh heavily on your life, and have a big impact on everything from your employment opportunities to your personal relationships.
While a criminal record usually carries with it a degree of permanence, in some instances it’s possible to clear your criminal record and start anew with a clean slate. But, once the process of trying to clear your criminal record has begun, how long does it take?
Read on for a summary of the record-clearing process, and its timeline at every stage.
The bottom line is, an arrest or conviction stays on your criminal record forever unless you get the criminal record expunged or sealed.
Expungement occurs when a record of a criminal arrest or conviction is destroyed, as though it never happened. Sealing a record, on the other hand, merely prevents any public disclosure of the record itself. It remains visible to law enforcement and courts.
So how do you know if you’re able to clear your record? Below are factors that typically make an individual’s record eligible for expungement or sealing.
Relevant to record sealing, some states prohibit background checks from revealing arrest or conviction records that occurred more than 7 years from the present date. Again, however, record sealing doesn’t remove arrests or convictions from the record itself.
Generally, there is a mandatory 3-year wait after a case concludes before you can file for either expungement or sealing of the record. That waiting period can be longer or shorter, depending on details of your case and the legislation of the state you’re in.
It’s also important to understand that the legal processes for both expungement and sealing a record varies greatly from state to state.
Here are some factors that may impact the waiting time:
Remember, legislation for expungement and sealing of a record differs in each state, and several factors can impact the speed of the process. For example, if a states attorney objects to the petition it can prolong the process significantly if a hearing is requested.
It’s common to complete the whole process in 3 months, depending, of course, on the details of your case. The expungement process itself can take anywhere between 1 and 6 months.
While all of these factors that affect the timeline of your record clearing can impact your life, most of it is not under your control. Staying patient is imperative.
Expunging or sealing your criminal records is a great first step to improving the quality of your life and ensuring a brighter future full of opportunity.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that clearing your criminal record removes the information from the government database—not from the Internet. Any sensitive personal information that exists there stays there, unless you remove it yourself.
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