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When Can a Misdemeanor Be Expunged?

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in LawJune 08, 2022

Having a misdemeanor on your record can hinder your search for gainful employment, but it doesn’t have to. Misdemeanors can be expunged, as long as a set number of years has passed since your sentencing, deferred adjudication, probation, or parole. How many years you’ll need before you can expunge a misdemeanor depends on your state, ranging anywhere between 3 and 7 years.

can a misdemeanor be expunged

What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a lesser offense than a felony, usually carrying less severe jail time and fines than higher-level charges would incur. Much like with a felony, a legal case will be brought against those accused of a misdemeanor by the local or state government, citing whatever law or laws was broken by the defendant. Misdemeanors fall into several distinct classes: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4. Depending on the state a letter may replace the numerical value, with “Class 1” and “Class A” being the most serious misdemeanors.

Common misdemeanors include:

  • Petty theft
  • Driving under the influence
  • Possession of illegal narcotics
  • Simple assault or battery
  • Vandalism
  • Trespassing

How Can a Misdemeanor Affect Your Life?

Committing a misdemeanor can result in jail time and significant fines, which can take a financial toll on those without stable employment or income. Going to jail will likely result in you losing your job, and the subsequent fines and legal fees can drain your savings account. Once you complete your sentence, finding a job with a misdemeanor on your record can be difficult. With a simple court records search, almost anyone can find your criminal record. Even though it doesn’t carry the same stigma as a felony, those who don’t figure out how to get a misdmeanor expunged may face employment discrimination.

How Can You Expunge a Misdemeanor From Your Records?

First, you’ll need to look up the legal requirements for expungement in your state. These laws often set down certain guidelines, like the amount of necessary elapsed time since conviction. Your expungement request can also be denied based on other factors, like subsequent arrests or convictions, successful completion of rehabilitation programs, and age at the time of conviction.

Then, you’ll need to send in your expungement application. This also varies from state to state, with some areas requiring direct delivery to district attorneys or signed documents from a judge. You may even need to go through a court hearing before your expungement is granted. While the process can be complicated, getting an expungement is always worth the time.

can a misdemeanor be expunged

Benefits of Expunging a Misdemeanor

  • Higher Chances of Gainful Employment:  A common question many ask is “if a misdemeanor is expunged will it show up on background check?” The answer is, thankfully, no. An expunged misdemeanor will not show up on a background check, and you’ll be able to legally mark “never arrested or convicted” on any application once your expungement is complete. This can open up the doors to higher paying jobs and lucrative careers in a variety of industries.
  • Easier to Get Into Educational Programs:  Over half of all colleges check applicants criminal history, and rejection rates skyrocket without a clean record. By having your criminal records expunged, you can avoid being turned away from universities, allowing you to get the education you deserve.
  • Better Approval Rates for Loans:  It is standard practice for many banking companies to check criminal history when an individual applies for a loan, and a misdemeanor conviction can negatively affect their evaluation. Failure to pay court fees or legal debts can also weigh down your credit, making it even more difficult to successfully get a loan.
  • Easier Time Finding Housing:  Landlords will usually conduct a background check as part of their tenant screening process, and a misdemeanor will make your approval that much less likely. The situation gets even more dire when you look at affordable housing; many section 8 or public housing residences will deny anyone with a criminal conviction.
  • Easier to Get Professional Licenses:  Many organizations will exclude potential members who have misdemeanors on their criminal record. With your records expunged, you can join professional and volunteer groups that will help strengthen your resume, leading to better jobs in your chosen field.

An Expunged Misdemeanor Can't Hold You Back

The unfortunate reality of having a misdemeanor on your record is that it hinders your growth. Everyone makes mistakes, and you shouldn’t be held down by your past forever. By getting your misdemeanor expunged, you open yourself up to the possibilities of better living situations, higher learning establishments, and more lucrative career paths. All you have to do is wait the time your state requires after a conviction, complete the expungement application process, and stay out of trouble. After that, you’ll be able to live your life the way you want, free of blemishes on your criminal record

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