A criminal record can have a major impact on your life, from limiting your housing and employment opportunities to impacting your passport application. Thankfully, there is a way to potentially clear your record: expungement. Read on to learn more about what it is, the benefits, and how to complete the process.
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What Is an Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process that seals or destroys criminal records so they can no longer be accessed by the public or potential employers. When someone has their record expunged, all traces of their criminal history disappear from public view. This means that when conducting a background check, an employer will not be able to see any indication that there was ever an arrest or conviction for the person who had their record expunged.
Benefits of an Expungement
In most cases, having your record expunged means that you can honestly answer “no” when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime in applications for employment, housing, loans, professional licenses, and more. This gives you the opportunity to start anew with fewer barriers in your way. It also helps protect your reputation by ensuring that prospective employers don’t see any negative information about you that may be on your record.
How To Get an Expungement
If your offense qualifies for an expungement under Kentucky law, you will need to file a petition with the Circuit Court in the county in which you were convicted of the offense. The petition must include detailed information about yourself and your conviction(s), including dates and court records related to the offense(s).
You will also need to provide evidence that you have fulfilled any requirements of sentencing, such as probation or parole time served. Once you submit the petition, it will be reviewed by a judge who will decide whether to grant an order of expungement. If granted, all records pertaining to the offense will be sealed from public view and cannot be used against you in any legal proceedings.
It’s important to note that even after an order of expungement has been granted by a judge, there are still some circumstances where employers may access your sealed records while conducting background checks—for example, when applying for jobs in law enforcement or health care fields.
What Charges Are Eligible For Expungement in Louisville, Kentucky?
In the following circumstances, you may be eligible for an expungement:
You Were Found Not Guilty or the Case Was Dismissed
If you were found not guilty of the charges against you, you are eligible to have your record expunged. This means that the charge was dismissed either due to lack of evidence or because the case was tried, and the jury or judge determined that they had no grounds to convict you. If you are not convicted, there is no reason why your criminal record should remain intact.
You Were Pardoned by the Governor
In some cases, individuals may also be able to have their records expunged if they receive a pardon from the state’s governor. This option is typically only available if an individual has already served his or her sentence and has gone through the necessary steps to be eligible for a pardon.
Individuals who have been convicted of most misdemeanors may also be eligible for their records to be expunged. However, sex crimes and crimes against children, even misdemeanors, are never eligible for expungement. Additionally, a misdemeanor crime cannot be expunged if you are still on probation or there is a pending criminal proceeding against you.
Certain Class-D Felonies
In Kentucky, certain Class-D felony convictions are eligible for expungement. Examples of Class-D felony crimes that are eligible for expungement include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Possession of a controlled substance in the first, second, or third degree
- Theft by unlawful taking
- Burglary in the third degree
- Criminal mischief in the first degree
To expunge a misdemeanor or a class-D felony, you typically must meet the following criteria:
- You do not have any pending criminal charges against you
- You haven’t been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in the last five years
- Five years have passed from the most recent date of either the charge, completion of your sentence, paid fines or fees, or completion of probation.
There are some exceptions, and certain crimes have different expungement timelines, so it’s always a good idea to speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to determine your eligibility for expungement.
All cases that were dismissed with prejudice or that you were acquitted of on or after July 15, 2020, must be automatically expunged after 30 days, with the exception of traffic cases. This means that no action is required for your record to be expunged; it will happen automatically 30 days following dismissal or acquittal.
Seek Legal Help From an Experienced Louisville Criminal Defense Attorney
With the right guidance, getting your record cleared could make all the difference when it comes time for job interviews or seeking other financial opportunities down the line. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us Suhre & Associates to schedule a free consultation with a trusted Louisville criminal defense lawyer by calling (502) 371-7000.