If you are living with a felony you have on your record, there will be several serious problems even though you have done your sentences. It can be difficult for you to find a new job, rent an apartment or continue to get a higher education level. In addition, if you have interest in insurance premiums or credit cards, the cost can be higher. Therefore, it is not easy to live with a felony. However, there are several methods to do on how to expunge a felony.
Once you can expunge a felony, you can prevent the consequences above so you can move with your new life. Most states provide you a second chance to start.
First Method – Sealing Your Record
- The Difference Of Sealed And Expunged Record
Seal your record is different from expunging your record. If you can seal the criminal record, it means that you are hiding it from the public, even though it is still there. It is important to note that it is possible to unseal the sealed records in some conditions. Meanwhile, if you expunge the record, it means you are erasing the record forever.
If the record is sealed, commonly the felony does not appear when you have to go with a criminal background check, for example, if you apply for a new job or rent an apartment. If you are living in Illinois, the sealed record is under the government authority. There, to seal or expunge the record of any felony convictions is illegal, unless you have the government authority. Therefore, it is important for you to know the difference of sealed and expunged record.
- Understand About The Waiting Period
In addition, you cannot get the sealed record before serving your sentence and wait for few years after serving. In the waiting period, you should prevent any brushes with the law. Speaking of the waiting period, it can be different. Well, it depends on the severity of the crime you did. Massachusetts has to wait for ten years to apply a felony record sealed. Meanwhile, for a misdemeanor conviction, the waiting period is only five years.
Therefore, it is essential to know about the start of the waiting period. For some states, they require you to complete the period of probation. Besides, you must pay all fines as the first step. Meanwhile, other states may start the waiting period in the day you are convicted. It is also possible if a state starts the waiting period on the day you can leave jail.
It is better to know about the policies and the regulations in your state. In many states, it is possible to request the record to seal after a waiting period without additional review. In another word, if you are in the waiting period, make sure that yourself clean.
- Work With The State’s Form
You can ask documents to seal your criminal record at a state court. Alternatively, your state may provide it at the probation office. Besides, you can find it at legal aid offices. Sometime, you should complete the form with other documents such as the final order of the conviction or the criminal record you have.
- Submit The State Form
Commonly, the forms provide you valuable information how to bring it to the right person to get the review. For some states, a judge will review the petitions to seal records. Meanwhile, others may require you to submit them to the probation office.
If you are working with the forms through the court, you should pay the filing fees to continue the process on how to expunge a felony.
- Attend Your Hearing
A hearing is one of the procedures available in some states before parole board or a judge seals your record. Other states sealing your record as the administrative process without nothing more than your signature of the petition.
The case is different if your petition is granted because the records will be sealed automatically. However, it may need some time. On the other hands, if the government rejected your petition, there will be several reasons for the denial and you will get the information clearly. They also provide you the clear information about how to solve the problems and when to reapply the record.
Second Method – How To Expunge A Felony
- Find The Availability
Expungement is an act to dismiss the felony, and it sounds never happened. So far, there are only 16 states allow expungement of the conviction.
It is true that the public may not know about the crime you did, but the law enforcement agencies, as well as the courts, still have the access to your record. If you have convicted of another crime after getting your expungement, it means that they can add more sentences to you.
Most states do not provide any expungement of any serious and violent felonies. Others do not allow you expunge felonies. Therefore, it is important to know about the regulation in the state where you get the record and you are living with. You should work hard to reduce your felony, after that, you can get a misdemeanor expunged for the lower consequences.
In fact, some states allow the expungement but for arrest only. If you are living in this state, it is impossible for you to expunge felony or even misdemeanor convictions. Even though you can get the expungement for your conviction, there are some limitations such as applying a professional license or a new job in law enforcement department.
- Know You Have Completed The Required Time
It depends on the state, you may need to wait for several years after the conviction to have your file for expunged record on how to expunge a felony. The length of the time depends on several factors such as the severity of the crime as well as your age. Each state also has different factors to be the part of the policies. If you have not finished all the aspects of the sentence, the waiting period will not start. This also includes about completing the probation period and all fines successfully.
- Collect Your Records
Many states require you to collect police and court records for your felony when you are applying for expungement. It can be by paying the fees for the certified copies of the documents. Besides, you must have the copies of the criminal history as well as the fingerprint records from the arresting police department. Florida, for example, requires you to have new fingerprints to take if you want to submit your expungement petition.
- Complete The Forms
Complete the form is one of the steps on how to expunge a felony. You should complete it based on the requirements. States have the form as the petition or motion for the expungement. You only can fill it with the court.
If the form or the process sounds hard for you, it is better to have a criminal defense attorney. He can help you to obtain any documents as well as related information. You can talk to someone in the public defender office or the attorney who works for your case.
- File And Submit The Expungement Forms
If you have finished filling the form out, submit the forms to the right court clerk. Be careful, as some states require you to send the forms to the district attorneys or the law enforcement department. If your state requires you to submit the file of the expungement to the law enforcement officials, you cannot work alone. The clerk’s office provides the list of local processing-serving companies and you must take one of them.
Therefore, you must agree to pay the fees to file your expungement. If your state requires you to serve the forms, you must pay the services. Besides, you cannot refund the fees. Once the clerk stamps and files the petition, you will get a docket number and the schedule for hearing.
- Attend The Court For Hearing
Some states have expungement hearings; meanwhile, others work with parole boards. Even though the hearing is less formal compared to a trial, but you should go with your respect. Therefore, you should dress neatly and come early with the complete documents on how to expunge a felony.
The parole board or judge must decide that your rehabilitation is over, so they will ask you about your education, family life, home, physical well-being, financial health as well as employment. Remember that police officer, as well as district attorneys, can attend your hearing to reject your expungement. If your judge grants the expungements, you should ask the copies of the signed Expungement Order. Then, deliver it to the law enforcement agencies by asking the clerk’s office for more information. However, if your judge denies about your expungement, the best thing to do is to ask about the reasons for the denial and ask any explanation what you should do to address it. After that, you can resolve the issues on how to expunge a felony and reapply the expungement.
Third Method – Get The Certificate Of Actual Innocence
- Learn How To Be Eligible To Get The Certificate
This method makes you forget about the options on how to expunge a felony above as it is the more powerful thing to go with. If you can get the certificate, it means that it erases and seals your record. Other than that, it makes the government consider that your record never exists at the first place.
If you believe that you are an innocent, you are not doing the crime and you have discovered strong evidence that was not available at your conviction. The certificate also works to overturn the wrong convictions. If you got a pressure to give a false confession, it can help you.
- Complete A Petition
Your state appeals court provides the forms and instructions to complete your petition. Besides, you can get it from legal aid societies. The type of the forms depends on the way you prove your innocence.
To file the actual-innocence petition, you have no waiting period. Therefore, it is a better way to do than applying for expungements or sealing your record.
The court also helps you by appointing the free assistance in the case that you cannot hire an attorney. If there is no legal representation, it is better not to pursue the certificate. But, keep going with the guideline on how to expunge a felony.
- Provide Complete Documents
For the filling, you have to spend about $50 to $100. It is important to file copies the court or police records about your conviction to complete the petition.
The state requires several documents such as the complete transcripts of the proceeding the trial or appeal as well as the complete court records. Again, you have to pay to get these documents, which are not cheap, depends on the length as well as the involvement of the trial.
- Work With State Attorney General
You cannot serve the petition alone. To serve the documents, you should work with or sheriff’s office.
- Attend Your Trial
To get a Certificate of Actual Innocence, the process is quite different from the steps on how to expunge a felony including the record-sealing hearings. It is because you should go with a formal trial at the level of the appeals court. A council must be your representative. It is fine if you cannot hire an attorney because the court can provide one to guide you to complete the process.
Method 4- Get The Certificate Of Rehabilitation
- Know About Your Eligibility
If you can get the certificate of rehabilitation, you will not get any punishment for your past because you are the part of a productive member of the society even though you were convicted of any offense.
It is important to know that to prove that you are rehabilitated goes with the strict standards. Each state may have different standards. Commonly, you should keep yourself clean from any offense. Besides, you must prove to the public that you are responsible and you are a law-abiding member.
Other than that, you cannot clean up all the convictions with the use of this certificate. In California, this method does not work, especially for those with felony sex offenses.
- Collect All Important Records
Make sure that all the documents you are going to collect for your petition can support your claim that your rehabilitation period is over.
- Complete The Petition
Make sure that you have answered all questions on the form honestly and completely. It would be good if you can provide supporting documents to support your statement. Remember that some states need letters from witnesses to know about your character as well as rehabilitation.
- File The Petition
You should file your petition for the certificate at the court or the parole board in your state. In California, you will get an appointed attorney in a case that you cannot hire one to help you deal with the process.
- Attend Your Hearing
A judge will review the petition and you must answer several questions about the claim for your rehabilitation. It is the common thing happens when you are attending a hearing. At this moment, the judge may also get the testimony from witnesses.
In California, if the judge gives you the grant of the certificate, the state transmits it to the governor’s office as the application for a pardon automatically. However, if you are living in Ohio, the state can take back the certificate if you plead guilty or convicted of doing criminal offense after the certificate has been published.
Those are all the methods if you want to know how to expunge a felony.
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