People can make poor decisions at times, and unfortunately those mistakes can follow them throughout their lives. Particularly in the case of criminal activity, a criminal record can limit a party's possibilities.
However, an expunction or sealed record could aid certain parties, depending upon the situation. In order to determine the best option, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
An expunction, also known as an expungement, completely removes the criminal charges from a party's record. In order to qualify for an expunction, an applicant must meet one of the following requirements:
- Party received an acquittal
- Party received a conviction but later was found innocent
- Party was formally charged but received a dismissal or indictment
- Party received a conviction and pardon
- Party was arrested but did not receive formal charges
Along with meeting one of the stipulations, there are time periods that the party must wait after the action occurs before filing for an expunction. The period depends upon the type of charge the party faced.
A sealed record, also called an order of nondisclosure, does not erase the charges from a person's records, but it does prevent governmental parties from releasing certain information from the record to the public. For those charges that are eligible for a record sealing, parties must complete all requirements of the sentence and undergo the set waiting period. Those with serious misdemeanors must wait two years, and those with felony charges must wait five years. After that period, they may apply. However, certain dangerous charges do not qualify for sealing, such as murder, kidnapping, human trafficking and injury to children, the elderly or disabled individuals.
In order to file for an expunction or order of nondisclosure, parties must submit the proper paperwork in the district court of the county where the incident or arrest occurred. Depending upon the court requirements, additional information or paperwork may be necessary.
Even after filing, it may take some time for the expunction or nondisclosure to go into effect. Though it is a lengthy process, having a clean slate and greater opportunities may be worth the sacrifice.