Expungement FAQ: Top 7 Questions About Clearing Your Criminal Record

Arrested man in handcuffs with hands behind back
By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 17, 2019 6:00 AM

We've been warned all our lives that what we do may end up on our permanent record. But how permanent is that record? Well, that might depend on what's on there, how old the record is, and how old you were at the time.

It is possible to clear some things off your criminal record. The process, called expungement, can be burdensome in some cases, and in others, a computer algorithm may take care of it for you. So how do you know whether you can expunge your criminal record, and how do you go about doing it? Here are answers to those, and a few other frequently asked questions about expungement.

1. What Goes on a Criminal Record?

You don't really need to expunge something that's not on your record, so knowing what will likely go on a criminal record (and how long it will remain there) is the first step to figuring out if expungement is right for you.

2. What Can and Cannot Be Expunged From Your Criminal Record?

Now that it's on there, can you get it off? While the specific rules may vary from state-to-state, most jurisdictions draw the line at misdemeanor convictions.

3. Can You Expunge Your Juvenile Record?

Generally speaking, it's easier to expunge or seal criminal records from before your 18th birthday. But it may depend on you staying out of trouble after it.

4. Can You Expunge Out-of-State Convictions?

The rules for expungement will be set by the jurisdiction where you were convicted. So expunging an out-of-state criminal record may require some out-of-state help.

5. Can You Get a DUI Expunged From Your Record?

Not all DUIs are created equal. A first-time offense with no bad driving is more likely to be expunged than a third-time DUI that resulted in extensive property damage or personal injury.

6. How Much Does It Cost to Expunge a Criminal Record?

Just as the rules for expungement may vary, so may the fees and associated costs, especially if you can fill out and file the forms yourself, or if you need to call in an attorney for help.

7. When Must You Disclose an Expungement?

Let's say you manage to clear your criminal record -- do you still have to tell people about it on, say, a job or lease application? I know we sound like a broken record here, but that also depends, generally on who's asking.

For help clearing your criminal record, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney today.

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