The Legal Process Of Expungement
Attorney Mike Angeloff On Expungement
Job applicants with criminal records face daunting barriers to obtaining employment. Yet neither federal nor state laws protect such job applicants from what is arguably a form of legal discrimination.
Don’t Hire Policy
Most large employers maintain a “don’t-hire” policy that provides for the automatic rejection of all job applicants who have criminal records, irrespective of the type of crime that was committed, the age of the conviction, or the degree to which the job applicant has been rehabilitated. Ironically, these types of employment practices make it problematic for a person with criminal record to ever become a law abiding, tax-paying citizen without a job.
There has never been as much job applicant screening as there is today. One reason for all the caution is that employers are under a legal duty to exercise reasonable care in hiring new employees. This includes conducting a complete civil and criminal background check on a job candidate.
Process Of Expungement
Expungement generally refers to a judicially ordered elimination of one’s criminal record and the destruction of all related arrest and conviction records from public view. Expungement, when successfully performed, not only brings closure and relief for the ex-offender, it opens the door to re-entry to society and the workplace. There are also other benefits such as becoming eligible for housing assistance, the ability to obtain a professional license and even being legally eligible for student loans.
Not All Crimes Qualify For Expungement
Not all crimes qualify for expungement. The severity of the crime will often play a major role in whether expungement will be granted by the court. Many jurisdictions prohibit expungement for violent crimes such as murder, rape, child molestation, and arson. One option for the ex-offender is to seek local legal counsel to determine whether he/she qualifies for expungement of their criminal record. Most jurisdictions do not allow sex crime offenders to have their criminal record expunged as a matter of public policy.
Procedures Vary Between Jurisdictions
The requirements, procedure and eligibility for expungement can vary between state jurisdictions. The relief available will depend on two major factors: first, whether the conviction was for a serious felony and second, the age of the conviction. It is irrelevant whether the ex-offender pled guilty or no contest to the original criminal offence.
Succesful Completion Of Probation
Most jurisdictions also require that a minimum amount of time must pass (usually seven years) after the successful completion of probation before an ex-offender can legally apply to the court for relief. Finally, there must not have been any arrests between the time probation was successfully completed, up until the time the court considers the ex-offenders application for expungement.
Benefits Of Expungement
Finally, the benefits of expungement include being able to safely tell your employers that you have not been convicted of a crime. You can then be eligible for student loans, housing assistance and for some, most importantly, the ability to earn a professional license. Perhaps the best benefit of having your criminal record legally expunged is that you can finally stop fearing a background check.
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