How or why are criminal records expunged? One has to expunge criminal records if they need to beu done in order to clear a person’s name. The term is also used when criminal records are destroyed, sealed or returned to the individual or the government agencies’ individual criminal records. So whichever process is used to clear an individual’s records, it is called expungement.
Why would one want to expunge criminal records? There are two forces at work here. While many would like to have access to a person’s criminal records just so they can be sure while hiring or letting out their house to them, an individual with a record would feel it is unfair that the stigma of maybe one misdemeanor could cast a shadow over him for the rest of his life. Whether it is a job, looking for a loan, renting an apartment or even dating someone online, if he has a black mark in his past, it is bound to hang over him like a Damocles sword. Stattes have been issued when one can expunge criminal records. Sure, there is a tension between the individual with the record and society who wants the records preserved, but in real life, with judicial help, the fact remains that you can expunge criminal records.
How are these records expunged? They could be sealed or destroyed or returned, like we said. In this matter, however, states tend to have differing viewpoints. However, if the judicial proceedings go in the individual’s favor, the records must, by law, be given back to the individual. Arrest records, for example, will have to be handed back to him by the law enforcement authorities. This is usually done when the case cannot be proved and there is no further incriminating evidence that can be raked up in that particular case. Then, criminal justice cannot be pursued either and the records are given to the individual.
Any criminal records that are with any criminal justice agency will, by statute, also be destroyed or sealed. You will find this happening usually when the person has been convicted for something that is covered by a special statute and the proceedings did not lead to a conviction. So the presiding court has the authority to seal and destroy any records that fall within this ambit of having the crime going under a specified category and no conviction being made.
The courts also have the power to expunge criminal records of the judicial branch. To some degree, although in a more limited capacity, this power can also be exercised on records that are with other branches of the state government.
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