Many felons wonder if their felony arrest will ever come off their record; they understand that by having a felony on their record, getting a job will be much harder. This blog post will talk in depth about how to remove a felony from someone’s record, and if it is even possible.
Can a Felony be Removed from Someone’s Record?
Yes, it is possible to erase a felony from someone’s criminal record. The process of getting rid of a felony arrest can be very long and/or expensive, but many felons who have gone through the process say it is worthwhile. The process is called expungement. A felon looking to delete their felony arrest will have to begin by determining if the felony is even allowed to be erased.
Felonies can be broken down into two categories, violent felonies and non-violent felonies. The majority of violent felonies are unable to be expunged or erased from a felon’s record, meaning that the felony arrest will never go away. Felons that are automatically disqualified from expungement include murder, rape, assault with a deadly weapon etc. If your felony falls under this category, the felony will never be able to be erased.
Now, if the felony committed was of a non-violent nature, expungement can be used in most cases to erase the felony from the person’s record. Examples of crimes that can be expunged are fraud, embezzlement, insider trading, and tax evasion. The majority of expungable crimes fall under the category of white-collar crime.
It is also important to note that misdemeanors can be expunged as well. So long as the misdemeanor meets the same criteria that is required to expunge a felony, the misdemeanor can be expunged as well. This is incredibly helpful for those who have a criminal record, even if they do not have a felony.
To summarize, a felony and/or a misdemeanor can be erased from someone’s record so long as the felony is eligible to be expunged.
How to Begin the Process of Expunging a Felony?
Felons that are eligible to go through the process of expungement may want to know how to get started. The first step in expunging a felony is to file a petition to the courts. This petition states why you think your felony should be expunged. It also is the start of the legal process that will take place to determine if your felony will be expunged. The next step is to gather evidence to support your petition; witnesses, trial errors and flaws in the case can help support your petition. If the courts deem it to be necessary, you may have to testify during one of the hearings relating to your expungement request.
The process of getting a felony expunged can be quite confusing, that is why there are hundreds of companies across the country that specialize in helping felons expunge their felony. Felons may want to consider hiring one of these companies to assist them in the process. Felons that can afford to hire an expungement lawyer should do so; expungement lawyers, especially veteran expungement lawyers tend to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to the process. These lawyers specialize in expunging felonies, so by hiring an expungement lawyer, you are getting the best legal care available.
The entire expungement process can take anywhere from a few months to a year depending on any complications that arise within the courts. It is important to gather all of the evidence at your disposal to submit to the courts in support of why your felony arrest should be expunged. Having patience with the legal system is required, even more so during the expungement process.
If a felon goes through the entire expungement process and comes out empty handed (meaning that their felony still exists on their record), they may pursue the route of sealing the felony. Sealing a felony can be, in some cases, just as beneficial as having the felony expunged. In the next section below, we will cover major differences between expunging and sealing a felony.
Sealing vs. Expunging a Felony, Which One is Better?
Sealing and expunging a felony carry their own benefits, if a felon wants to completely erase their felon from their record, then pursuing the process of expungement is the way to go. If the felon just wants the felony to be hidden, sealing may be the best course of action. When a felony is expunged, the felony no longer exists anywhere; it is not on any records, criminal history, or on the felon’s case. The felony is eradicated from the felon’s past.
Sealing a felony is different from expunging the felony because the felony still exists. Sealing the felony means that the felony can still be seen by the courts, but no one else. When a felony is expunged or sealed, it will not show up on a background check, meaning that felons are technically no longer felons.
Both sealing and expunging a felony can be very helpful for felons, especially when it comes to applying to jobs, but there are added benefits as well. For example, felons are unable to own a firearm, but if your felony is expunged, then it becomes legal to possess a firearm again (at least in the state of Michigan). Speaking in generalities, it is worth trying to get a felony expunged or sealed.
The Conditions of Sealing or Expunging a Felony.
There are many conditions that come along with sealing or expunging a felony, for instance, two crimes are able to be expunged, but only one of them can be a felony. What this means for felons is that if they were charged with felonies, only one of them can be erased, still making the felon a felon. Often times your lawyer at your initial sentencing hearing will request that all of the charges be wrapped as one felony, if this was done, then all of the crimes the felon was tried for can be erased by using a single expungement.
This may seem confusing so here is an example. In 2014, Jeff committed fraud. In the same year, Jeff used the money he obtained from his fraudulent activities to commit insider trading. In 2015, Jeff was caught and was brought to court. His defense lawyer asked the judge and prosecution to charge him with only one felony that had enhancements. Jeff was sentenced to three years in prison. Now, in 2019, Jeff wants to get his single felony expunged. Since the felonies committed were of a non-violent nature, Jeff is able to get his single felony expunged since both felonies were bundled together for sentencing purposes. Even though Jeff committed two felonies, he was only charged with one, that means that he can file to have that single felony expunged after ten years.
Every case is different, but the example above is very common. Lawyers are aware of the expungement laws which is why they request the offenses to be bundled in this way. In most cases, the only way the defendant can get their crimes bundled like this is if they accept the plea deal and choose not to go to trial.
Moving Forward, What Felons Can Do.
Using the information above, some felons may choose to go through the process and try to have their felonies expunged. Felons that do not have their felony expunged will have to live with their felony arrest on their record for the rest of their lives, which is what makes the process of expungement so enticing.
If the felon is unable to have their records expunged, the felon may want to look into the process of sealing their record. Some crimes are ineligible for both expungement and the sealing process, and if that is the case, then the felony will remain on the felon’s record for the rest of their lives.
It is important to note that not every felony conviction is the same, there may be different procedures based on individual details on every case. Consulting a legal professional is always a good idea, especially when it comes to trying to get a felony sealed or expunged.
How much does it cost to seal/expunge a felony?
Price points can vary based on the service the felon selects to use and the crime on the felon’s record, but in most cases, the cost of sealing/expunging a felony is roughly $1,750.00. This number is the average, some cases will cost much more, and others will be much more affordable.
How long must someone wait before they can have their felony expunged?
Most states require that a felon waits ten years before applying for expungement. This practice is changing however with some states allowing felons to apply for expungement after only waiting five years.
Can Drug Felonies be Expunged?
Yes. In most cases, drug felonies can be expunged. Expunging a drug offense is one of the hardest felonies to erase so it may be much more expensive to do, but it can be done.
Thank You for reading! Have you ever been through the expungement process? Let us know your thoughts below!