How Can I Seal my Felony Record?
Having a criminal record can work against you in a number of ways. You will have problems finding work and housing. Fortunately, the system is set up to give you a reprieve of sorts through the process of record sealing. You can file to have your record sealed so that it will be as if you never went to prison.
Although you can say that you do not have a criminal conviction, this does not mean that the arrest records will be destroyed. According to the Cleveland legal aid website “… the criminal record is hidden from the public and most employers. Some employers, such as those that hire nurses, nursing assistants, or child care providers, will still be able to see the record after it is sealed. It will always be available to judges and police officers.” This means that if you are charged for another crime, your past convictions could come back to haunt you.
Which Records Can be Sealed?
Some charges are considered too serious to be removed from a person’s record. However, the process of sealing covers a variety of crimes. In some states if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can file to have our records sealed five years after that date, while in other states you file to seal your records five to seven years after serving your sentence. Felony records will take a longer time to seal. Some sex offenders are also able to have their records sealed, but this depends on the actual charge. Level three offenders are usually not allowed to have sealed records. It usually takes a long time before low level sex offenders can file to have their records sealed.
What is the Process for Criminal Record Sealing
The process to have your criminal or arrest record sealed can be a lengthy one. First, you must fill out the application form properperly, and ensure that it is accompanied by the relevant supporting documents. Initially it will be reviewed by a judge in your district. The judge has the power to deny the petition, even if you have met all the legal requirements for filing. Petitioners are notified on the decision, and if it is successful, they will be given a hearing date.
Aside from misdemeanor convictions, there are some case results which will make it easier to have court records sealed. The judge will look favorably on your request if your case was dismissed and there was no ruling for probation. If the court finds that there was no probable cause for you to be charged, this will also work in your favor. If your case resulted in a not guilty verdict, you will most likely want to have the record of your arrest sealed even though there was no conviction.
One of the best things you can do is to talk to the lawyer who handled your case so that you can find out how to go about sealing your record. Since the eligibility requirements and the application process vary in different states, find out as much as you can before you attempt to file. While legal representation can help to make the process quicker, this is not mandatory. You can also approach legal aid organizations in your area for help.