Many people who have been arrested but were never charged with a criminal offense presume that their brush with the law will not have any long-term consequences. It is only when these people are denied a career opportunity, lose their job during an ongoing background check or cannot secure rental housing that they realize that they were mistaken. Under Kansas law, a person’s record of arrest and/or conviction does not just go away with the passage of time. Even if you were convicted of an offense when you were a juvenile, the record may remain available for those conducting public records searches or criminal history background checks, including employers, landlords, lenders and even nosey neighbors. While the presumption of innocence applies in a courtroom, prospective employers and landlords might not be as discriminating when they discover an arrest even if charges were never filed, or the case was dismissed or resulted in an acquittal after trial.
Innovations in communication technology including the Internet and social media have expanded the availability of public records so that virtually anyone can learn about your criminal history. Employers have made criminal background checks an essential part of the hiring process, but current and future employers are not the only ones that may research your criminal record. Kansas now makes criminal history records available online for most counties in the state. Many municipalities in Kansas City make these records available to the public. The widespread availability of these this information makes it important to seek expungement of your criminal record before it causes damage to your employment prospects, reputation, home finance or rental application.
If you are an adult, criminal records that are eligible for expungement may be cleared three years after you have completed your sentence or satisfied the terms of your probation, diversion or a suspended sentence. Most misdemeanor offenses qualify for expungement. Level six through ten non-drug offenses also may be expunged as well as level four drug crimes. For more serious criminal offenses, such as felonies that do not involve drugs levels one through five and drug felonies levels one through three, the waiting period is five years after satisfaction of one’s sentence, probation or diversion before an application may be submitted for expungement.
There also are tolling periods that apply for other specific types of Kansas criminal offenses. The waiting period for expungement for those charged under the juvenile code is two years after completion of any sentence, diversion or probation. While most sex crimes cannot be expunged, low level sex crimes that are not expressly excluded by the Kansas expungement statute may qualify for expungement after the tolling periods above or expiration of the duty to register as a sex offender whichever is the longer waiting period.
After we have filed your petition requesting expungement, the court will conduct a criminal background check to determine you have not been arrested during the tolling period then schedule a hearing. Once the judge approves the expungement, the court clerk will enter information in the local records that the criminal offense has been expunged. The order expunging your record will also be forwarded to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), which maintains criminal records for Kansas. KBI will contact all agencies that have access to the criminal record, including the FBI to indicate that the record has been sealed (i.e. expunged).
Once the process is complete, you may inform anyone who asks if you have a criminal record that you have never been arrested, charged or convicted of the expunged offense. There are narrow exceptions to this rule involving paperwork submitted to the professional licensing boards (i.e. Kansas State Bar), certain government entities, law enforcement and prosecutors.
If you are unsure whether you case qualifies for expungement, we invite you to contact Kansas expungement attorney Stacey Schlimmer, who can review your case and advise you regarding your eligibility for expungement of your criminal record. Our Kansas criminal defense law firm offers a confidential free consultation so call us today at 913-219-5424 or contact us online.