Everyone makes mistakes, it’s a fact of life. However, if you make a decision that results in a misdemeanor or felony, that mistake could follow you around for the rest of your life. Even if your record was spotless before that moment, a misdemeanor would stick to you. It will appear on background checks and other applications. It can make life challenging. Thankfully, expungement law allows you to scrub your record clean, under certain conditions.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process where the court seals a criminal record (including an arrest record or record of a court appearance for a dismissed case). Courts seal the record, but they do not destroy them. If you find yourself before a judge again, they will have access to your record. However, expungement makes your record inaccessible to police and background checks. Expungement helps alleviate the challenges associated with a criminal record and makes it easier to return to a normal life.
Expungement vs. Pardon
An expungement and a pardon are entirely different, even though they both result in restored freedoms. Where the expungement seals records, the pardon does not. A pardon means you do not face further punishment. Expungement means, after the sentence, others cannot easily discover your record. Additionally, while pardons often come from Governors and Presidents, expungements must come from the court.
Am I Eligible for Expungement?
Expungement laws can be fairly complicated. It’s not as simple as filing a petition and meeting with a judge. It also depends on the type of misdemeanor, and the time passed since the end of the sentence. However, there are a few constants. Generally, you can petition the court to expunge first-time misdemeanors, but not violent offenses or uncontrolled substance distribution.
It’s important to remember that any arrest or charges brought against you can appear on your record, even after dismissal. Even an arrest caused by a misunderstanding can still go on your record. However, expungement law allows you to petition the court to remove those charges entirely. Likewise, some cases come with guaranteed expungement under certain circumstances, but you must always file a formal petition with the court.
What Expungement Does Not Do
Expungement can clean your court record. It can prevent police from looking up your arrest record during a stop. It helps you find a job and return to normal life. However, what expungement cannot do is clean private collections of your charges.
If your story was newsworthy or if your local newspaper publishes a crime blotter, the courts cannot expunge that evidence. However, you can still request an unpublishing, an addendum, or a follow-up story with any news source that published a story about you. While there’s no guarantee they will approve your request, it is important to acknowledge that even after expungement, a background check may still turn up information about your charges.
Similarly, expungement cannot remove anything from social media. If someone posted about your arrest on Facebook or Twitter, the only thing you can do is politely ask that they remove their post. It may take some searching, but social media posts regarding your charges can show up in a background check, even after a successful expungement. That’s why it’s critical you never post about any accident or crime on your social media, even if it is to say that you are unharmed or completely innocent.
While many residents of Mississippi are eligible for expungement, starting the process requires a formal petition. If you’d like an experienced Mississippi lawyer to assist with your expungement case, please call the law offices of Vollor Law Firm, P.A. at (662) 269-6188 or send us an email.