Should You Try to Get Your Criminal Record Expunged?
While everyone makes mistakes, there are times when those mistakes lead to being arrested. When this happens, particularly to a young person, one mistake made early in life can haunt them forever in terms of attending college, getting a job, buying a house, and other important life events. To keep this from happening, it is sometimes best to try having your criminal record expunged, meaning any convictions will be erased. Criminal record expungement is, however, only something possible with certain types of convictions. If you are considering this option, here are some indications that a criminal record expungement might be helpful to you in your situation.
If You Want To Erase The Stigma
While it may seem like a petty thing to be concerned about, the truth is that criminal records carry a stigma, even if the crime was minor or far in the past. Even if you made a mistake years ago, having a criminal record will carry with it a stigma that others will find hard to ignore. Whether applying for a job, loan, or to college, a criminal record will always have you trying to explain what happened and why you are now a better person. There are some employers who won’t consider job applicants with criminal records, and it can impact your ability to get approved for certain financial benefits and contracts in some states.
If You Were Arrested but not Charged
Another reason to get your record expunged is if it simply indicates an arrest, not a formal charge. If you were arrested by police but were eventually released and never charged with a crime, you should consider criminal record expungement. Otherwise, most people will simply see that you were arrested and care little whether or not charges were actually filed against you. This is often because employers and others don’t realize the difference between arrest and formal criminal charges.
If Your Name Appears by Mistake
In some situations where an arrest has been made, a person’s name may appear on a criminal record by mistake. Should this happen to you, it will undoubtedly keep you from living the life you wish. Rather than let a simple clerical error cost you jobs, a home, loans, or a higher education, work with a lawyer to erase this mistake.
If You Were Acquitted
Even if you were arrested, charged with a crime, and later acquitted by a judge or jury, the fact that you still have a criminal record could be damaging to your life in so many ways. Although legally you were found innocent in the eyes of the court, the court of public opinion may feel otherwise about you once others discover your criminal record.
Since not all criminal records are eligible for expungement, such as those where a person has a guilty conviction, it is important to discuss your situation with an expungement lawyer. By doing so, you can learn whether or not your record is eligible for this process, how much it will cost, and what will be involved in helping rid yourself of the stigma associated with having a criminal record.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She recommends looking into criminal record expungement. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan