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Frequently Asked Questions About the Expungement of Criminal Records

If you need to have records expunged in any other location, you should ask an attorney who is licensed there for advice on the law of that state. However if you have a few questions about expungement I’ve list a few of the most frequently asked questions online.

1. What is expungement?

Expungement is the process by which certain criminal records can be destroyed, usually after a certain period of time or a result in court – for example, after an acquittal, nolle prosequi, probation before judgment, or other dismissal of the charge.

While this article is about expungement, I want to point out an important difference between expunging records and sealing records. Expungement means that the records are completely destroyed. It is as though the crime never happened, or at least the record of the crime doesn’t exist. Sealing means that the records are still there, but a court order forbids them from being seen by most people.

2. What criminal records can be expunged?

If you are charged, convicted or otherwise that information will stay on your record. However, if it’s determined that the records are able to be expunged, generally all court records within any court, correctional facility, detention center, law enforcement agency or criminal justice information registry will be deleted. It includes the information about the individual’s apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition

3. Are criminal records automatically expunged?

Without a good reason, criminal records are never automatically erased. A lot of work and paperwork is usually needed for this and you’ll need to find your own criminal defense lawyer for that. Sometimes records can’t be expunged or sealed because of the law. For example, juvenile records may not be available to the public for a set amount of time, but others may always stay on your record.

4. Can an Expungement request be denied?

Absolutely, requests to expunge records can be rejected. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, not all records are able to be expunged. If you want to get your record cleared then it needs to be within your circumstances and you need to follow the correct procedures applied. Expungements are often denied because there isn’t enough time for them to take place or the records that can be expunged don’t exist.


Generally speaking, criminal records are considered public information and anyone can go to the courthouse and find out if you’ve been arrested. Something you may want to consider is expungement. The extent to which records can be obscured varies from state to state, but it’s important to note that this procedure isn’t guaranteed.


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