Criminal Record Expungement – What You Should Know

Criminal records. The allegory imagery that comes to mind as soon as you entertain the prospect of having one conjures images of black marks, skeletons and various other scary things befitting the Halloween season.

Though, criminal records are not supposed to be inherently scary. They are there to inform institutions about an individual’s foray into crime, the lasting consequences of breaking the law when they were supposed to follow the rules.

Many employers and landlords require criminal record background checks in order to see if their prospects are suitable candidates of their time, money and investment in either. If they find a prospect does have a criminal record, they have the right to refuse them their service for those aforementioned reasons.

However, those with criminal records may have an opportunity to clear their name. In some instances, courts will allow an individual to expunge or completely clear their criminal record.

Expunging the Criminal Record

Expungement is a process in which a conviction or arrest record (criminal records) are sealed. Most, if not all, states have laws that set forth a process for people to expunge arrests and convictions from their criminal record. The details of such laws do vary on a state by state basis, however most should know that they are very much there.


Before seeking a criminal record expungement, suitable prospects must meet certain criteria. It is advisable to check with your country’s criminal court or law enforcement agency for more information regarding how your state handles criminal record expungement.

Those seeking a criminal record expungement should ask for specific information regarding the process, such as:

  • Whether a specific offense is eligible for expungment.
  • When they are eligible for expungement themselves.
  • What the expungement process involves.
  • What the consequences of expungement may entail.

Although criminal record expungement offer prospects a fresh start of sorts, it is important for people to investigate their jurisdiction’s expungement procedures before undergoing the process.

Certificate of Actual Innocence

In some cases, a person can get their criminal record cleared—an instance known in some jurisdictions as a certificate of actual innocence.

This type of certificate proves that a person’s criminal record should not have existed in the first place. People who are eligible for this certificate typically have already been proven that they are completely innocent or cleared of a crime (as in, they were found not guilty or had all charges dropped in lieu of being accused of a crime). The certificate represents ‘evidence’ that they were factually cleared of all offenses.

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