If you have a felony conviction on your record, particularly if the offense occurred long ago, you may wonder how long the felony will remain on your record and whether there is anything you can do which will decrease that time. The first thing you must consider is the state you reside in as the laws regarding how long a conviction remains on your record varies considerably. Whether your conviction was a misdemeanor or felony will have some bearing on how long the conviction will remain on your record as well as the type of crime you were convicted of.
Expunging Your Criminal Record
In general to get rid of charges, arrests, the dates of court appearances and convictions—whether misdemeanor or felony— you will have to petition the court to have the records expunged. The petition to have these records expunged will have to go through the court/jurisdiction in which the original crime was prosecuted. In these days of computer technology, criminal records are freely shared from one law enforcement agency to another. While your criminal record is technically a public record, this doesn’t mean that just anybody can gain access to those records. Potential employers have the right to check into your criminal history providing you sign a consent form—and those who refuse to sign the consent will be unlikely to get the job. A deceased person’s criminal record is open to the public.
Requirements for Having Your Criminal Record Expunged
While misdemeanors and minor offenses are somewhat simple to have removed from your criminal record, there are a number of requirements you must meet in order to have more serious felony charges and convictions removed. The court will take into consideration such factors as: the time between the original incident and your request, whether you are currently under investigation for any criminal offenses, how many prior convictions you have on your record, whether you were convicted of another offense during the waiting period after you have filed for expungement, whether you have successfully completed the original sentencing terms or served your time and whether your probation period was without further criminal incident. The court is looking to see that you are a fully rehabilitated person before considering your request to expunge your record.
Results of Expunging Your Record
Should the court agree to expunge your records, then all charges against you, every court file pertaining to your case, your arrest record and your conviction will all be erased from public record. Remember, a guilty or no-contest plea remains on your criminal record regardless. Once a criminal record is expunged, it only ceases to exist at the local and state level. The FBI will still be able to access your entire criminal record meaning even many years down the road, after you have paid your debt to society and had your criminal record expunged, should you apply for a governmental job your criminal history will be visible at this level.
In short, felony convictions are forever unless you take steps to have your criminal record expunged. That felony conviction could cost you a job, take away your voting privileges in some states, restrict your ability to hold public office or obtain security clearance for specific professions, prohibit your obtaining a passport or visa, prevent you from owning a firearm, prevent you from obtaining federal funding for college and can even cause you to be pulled into police lineups as a potential suspect. It is extremely important that you hire a highly qualified criminal defense attorney to help you with your petition to expunge your criminal record in order to lessen some of the lifelong consequences of your criminal record.