When it comes to legal matters, many types of criminal charges will permanently remain on your legal record. However, there are ways to get certain cases removed in a process called expungement. Expungement laws are different according to state, but there are a lot of misconceptions about the practice. Here are just a few common myths about the expungement process.
- Myth: Expungement will totally clear my record
This is a common misconception, but the fact is, your criminal record will always exist after it's been created. An arrest that leads to a criminal case will almost always find its way into various places such as local police databases, court databases, state and federal databases, the news, search engines, and more. Basically, just because you get an expungement doesn't mean the records disappear entirely; they can still be found in remote locations, they just won't be publicly accessible.
- Myth: Cases will be automatically expunged after seven years
This is one of the most common myths about expungement, generally referred to as the "seven year myth."A lot of people are under the impression that all cases are expunged after the seven year mark, but in reality, the only change that occurs after seven years is that non-convictions cannot be legally reported by credit reporting companies. Talk to a criminal defense attorney for more information.
- Myth: Expungement has one single meaning
Again, this is a common misconception. Expungement is a buzzword in the legal world. There are 1,315,561 lawyers in the United States, and they may all have different definitions of expungement since it can mean a myriad of different things. Black Law's Dictionary, the legal dictionary of choice for most lawyers and legal professionals, defines "expunge" as "to erase or destroy." Most states do have some form of relieving criminal records, and they're generally referred to by attorneys as "expungement." However, check your state's laws about expungement. They may use other verbiage such as "sealing," "expunction," or something else. Alternatively, a remedy called 'expungement' may be available, but it may not completely hide the record. It also may not be a remedy in your state, or in some cases, it may not even be the best option you have. Always talk to a criminal defense attorney to discuss the best option for your particular case.
Ultimately, expungement laws are technical and complicated, but can offer many benefits. For more information about expungement, contact Rhett Bernstein.