What is an expungement, and can you qualify for one?
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What is an expungement, and can you qualify for one?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2021 | Criminal Law

Everybody makes mistakes, but only a select few people get caught while making them. If you happened to get caught by the police when you did something questionable years ago, you might still have to pay the price for that mistake today.

Whether you plead guilty to a lesser offense or actually went to court and got convicted, the record of criminal charges on your background can cause all kinds of hardship. In fact, getting arrested even without a conviction could give you a criminal record.

Criminal records limit your future

Failing a background check could mean not getting a great job or promotion. It can also mean significant limitations on your housing options and educational opportunities. Thankfully, you don’t have to live with those limitations forever.

Maybe your employer mentioned expungement, or perhaps someone in your neighborhood said that you might qualify for one. Learning about what an expungement is and when it’s an option could help you leave your criminal issues in the past.

What is an expungement?

Also called an expunction in some states, an expungement involves the courts sealing official records. Arrest records, fingerprints and photographs can all wind up restricted from public access. However, law enforcement officers and prosecutors could access them in some cases.

Essentially, negative information that might affect your employment, educational or housing opportunities becomes inaccessible to the public.

Who qualifies for an expungement in Louisiana?

Not everyone can get an expungement. First of all, you have to have avoided subsequent arrests or criminal charges for at least 10 years in order to qualify. Any pending charges will make you ineligible, while subsequent convictions will re-start the waiting period.

Not all crimes are eligible for expungement. Under Louisiana law, people can seek to expunge both felonies and misdemeanors if they qualify. Those convicted of violent offenses, crimes of a sexual nature, drug trafficking crimes and offenses against minors will not qualify for expungement.

If you qualify and manage the process properly, an expungement is mandatory. You may not even need a court hearing to clear your record, but you also can’t afford mistakes that could affect your eligibility. Professional help during expungement proceedings can increase your chances of presenting a convincing argument and avoiding mistakes that might nullify your eligibility.

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