Criminal-record expungement and sealing laws are an increasingly popular and seemingly simple reform. The logic is sound: For the criminal justice system to work effectively, the system must also let people move on from their past and have equal access to employment and housing, unburdened by the stigma of a criminal record years later.  


A criminal record can cause you difficulty, whether you’re trying to get a new job or rent a new apartment. This can be even more frustrating if the only blemish on your record is an arrest that didn’t lead to conviction. In all but five states, you can get that arrest expunged from your record, which means the arrest is erased or eliminated from your record.[1] In many states, you can have an arrest expunged even if you were convicted of a crime, provided you’ve met all the qualifications.


Usually, when punishments are given to a conviction, the time period and the intensity of the charge depend on the conviction. Many individuals who commit convictions aren’t aware of the consequences that an arrest can actually bring. Actually, an arrest can damage the identity of the individual and make you ineligible for certain public benefits. However, there exists a way to hide an arrest record for certain crimes. That is called expungement.


To expunge arrest records, there are explicit laws in each state. Some laws even differ by counties. Determine what options for expungement are available in your state. Not all states allow criminal records to be expunged, and those that do may only allow it in specific instances.


  • You must follow the expungement rules and procedures of the state where you were arrested, even if you are a resident of another state.

  • Some states allow for “sealing” rather than “expungement” specifically. If a criminal record is sealed, it’s hidden from the general public but still exists on your record as a whole. Sealed records can be unsealed in some instances. Expungement removes the record entirely, and cannot be undone


Before getting into details of record removal, you will have to get an idea of the limitations of expungement process.


Suitability factors for Expungement


  • The majority of the states do not permit expungement for certain crimes. You cannot acquire expungement for a second offence other than the current criminal record. That means, you can generally get your criminal record expunged only if the conviction is committed for the first time

  • The Jury that handles the case to be expunged will expect the completion of the try-out period, full payment of penalties and the end of all charges.

  • While you are in the period of probation, you must not have intervened in another offence.

  • Every condition of the punishment must have been met.

  • Many a time, you must understand that a brutal conviction such as a Felony has lesser chances of expungement.


How to expunge your record?


Find out what crimes are covered. Some states such as Colorado allow expungement of many types of crimes, while others such as Wyoming prohibit any expungement at all.[3]


  • Generally, it is quicker and easier to get an arrest record expunged if the charges were dismissed and you were not convicted of a crime.[4]

  • Many states do not allow expungement of a conviction for a sexual offense, and do not allow expungement at all for registered sex offenders.[5]

  • In most states, expungement is available only for first-time misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. An arrest for a serious, violent felony often cannot be expunged even if your arrest did not lead to conviction.[6]


  • As already explained, the decrees of record removal vary from state to state. Most people advise on taking an attorney’s assistance while submitting an application for expungement. That is a safer option because if you have committed elsewhere, which does not confine to the borders of the state, a lawyer’s help can ease each step of expungement.

  • Firstly, you must obtain a photocopy of your criminal trace. However, it is taxing and should be carried out carefully. To get the copy, all you have to do is to provide the respective court with thumbprints. After that, you will get the copy of your arrest records

  • An arrest record contains details about your conviction, the social security number, license if any, the mugshot and relevant information about the arrest and previous encounters if found. To get the arrest record relating to a Federal agency, you must contact the FBI through your attorney or the courthouse that handles your case.

  •  An arrest record removal depends only on the category in which the conviction falls.  Any requisite must clearly be understood after talking to an attorney.

  • Proceeding the phase of analyzing limitations, you must file a plea for expungement. The plea is a decision which confirms that you are eligible for expungement. As an instance, to expunge arrest record, California the conviction must have happened within the county and if the convict faced a charge or sentence in the state prison, the probabilities of expungement are very less.

  • The attorney if you hire, will help you in stating laws of the state which support the act of expungement in the plea that is filed. Most of the times, a plea is as short as fitting just a page. To prioritize the plea, you should make the reasons look strong.

  • You must then submit the plea to the relevant court which is about to conduct the case inquiry. Once done, you may also take copies of your forms to be circulated to public agencies which may hold your arrest record.

  • From there, the court clerk, who is in charge of informing you the inquisition dates, gets back to you. By attending the inquiry, you should be able to present yourself in a position to clearly explain the reasons behind claiming expungement.

  • If the judge decides to grant expungement, the record will be removed from public sight.  On denial of expungement, you may have to work again on specific areas of the plea which the Judge might not agree with.