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Expungements, Part 2: The Rest of the Hurdles

If you made it through Expungements, Part 1: Good work! You have now established not only that you may be eligible for expungement of your criminal record, but also that you are very good at following instructions.  Bet you can run circles around a tax form.

But you are not out of the woods yet.

First, there is a waiting period that starts after you have completed your entire sentence (including any period of probation or community control).  For a felony, you must wait three years.  For a misdemeanor, the wait is one year.  So, if the judge ordered you to complete five years of probation after a felony conviction, you are not eligible for eight years—five years plus three year waiting period.  The math is similar for misdemeanors, except the wait is shorter.

Then, when you apply for expungement, the prosecutor who handled your case will be notified. The prosecutor will have an opportunity to file an objection before your hearing, providing all the reasons why your record should not be sealed.

Next, a probation officer will make inquiries about you and report back to the court. If one of your convictions was for failing to pay child support, the investigator will check with the child support enforcement agency to see if you are now paying as required.

If you used the three-month-period trick (see Part 1) to combine two or three convictions into one, the court will consider whether it is in the public interest to allow it. If not, you may be deemed ineligible.

Finally, the court will determine whether you have been fully rehabilitated in the time since your conviction, and will analyze whether any legitimate governmental reason for maintaining your criminal record outweighs the reasons for allowing the record to be sealed.

After weighing all the factors surrounding your application, if the court is satisfied that expunging your record will serve its goal of helping rehabilitated offenders become productive members of society, it will order your criminal record sealed. And as your record fades to black, your future will start looking a lot brighter.

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