Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where Would I Seek An Expungement? Contributor:
- is an attorney in Orlando practicing criminal defense. He represents clients seeking expungements and sealings of criminal records throughout the state of Florida.

A criminal record expungement must be sought in the state in which the arrest occurred. More specifically, it must be petitioned for in the court where the arrest would have been or was heard. Therefore it is optimal to hire an attorney that (1) works within the state where the petition to expunge will be filed and (2), even more importantly, is familiar with the court system in the county where the arrest occurred.

Why Can't I Just Use A "Fill-In-The-Blank" Firm?

There are many nationwide expungement services that will charge you to expunge a criminal record any where. The problem with these companies is they "farm out" the work to attorneys in the area where the petition to expunge must be filed. In my experience (having cleaned up the mess from some of these "services") is that they farm-out to attorneys that really do not know what they are doing or have very limited knowledge and hope the process is without objection.

To "fix" one of these messes the client had to appeal the courts decision to deny relief. Case law at the time was on the side of the client and should have been presented to the court at the time of the expungement hearing. Instead, the client had to pay for an appeal which cost several thousand dollars.

What Makes Different? does not charge people to use their service. In fact, the service is just a directory of attorneys listed by location. A person using the website finds an attorney in the state where he/she was arrested. The attorneys listed on are experienced in the expungement laws and rules of the state where the petition must be filed. The person talks to the attorney and decides whether or not to hire that attorney. The entire transaction is only between the person seeking to expunge their criminal record and the attorney.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Criminal Record Expungements

What is a criminal record expungement?

A criminal record expungement is a legal process that removes a criminal record from public access. The criminal record is not gone but it is no longer a public record. Some state laws allow a person, whose record has been expunged, to deny the existence of that criminal record. In some states criminal records that have been expunged must also be destroyed.

Can any criminal record be expunged?

No. Expungements are primarily for non-violent offenses. Each state has established laws specifying which offenses are eligible to be expunged. Some states limit the number of expungements a person can have. Expungement of a criminal record is look upon as giving someone a second chance. Therefore, it is not automatic or available to everyone.

What benefits do I get if I expunge my criminal record?

If someone successfully expunges a criminal record that record is typically no longer a public record. Some states require that the Clerk of Court (the repository of court records) destroy that record. Other states require the criminal record be secured in a room or facility and that it cannot be touched absent a court order.

Records maintained by law enforcement, regarding an arrest, are also affected. Some states require each agency make those records confidential. Other states require those records be destroyed. The central state database typically is allowed to keep a record of the arrest that is not accessible by the public.

If asked or required to answer the question "Have you ever been arrested...?" many states allow a person that has had their criminal record expunged to answer "no." There are usually exceptions to this when it comes to employment in areas that deal with children, the elderly or the physically or mentally disabled.

Why are expungement laws beneficial to everyone?

Expungement laws are beneficial to everyone because it removes a social stigma from a person that would otherwise be a contributor to society. A person's success directly impacts his or her benefits on society. A person who has made one mistake in his or her life should not forever be made inferior to everyone else. This is particularly true if the criminal record occurred in a person's youth before true potential can form.

How can a person expunge their criminal record?

Each state that allows criminal record expungements sets forth statutes, rules, and/or codes that specify the requirements and procedure for expunging a criminal record. An expungement deals with both public records maintained by law enforcement and judicial records. Typically these records are managed by a different set of rules. Even though the legislative branch can pass a law for expungements, the legislature typically has no power over court records. Therefore, expungement petitions must comply strictly with both the statutes and rules of procedure.

The expungement process is time consuming and tedious. Little mistakes can cause long delays. Some mistakes can cause the record to remain public. The surest way to expunge a criminal record is to hire an attorney that has the legal knowledge and background to achieve success. Even if a person desired to try and expunge a criminal record on their own it would be wise to consult with an expungement attorney beforehand.

How would a person wanting to expunge a criminal record get started?

The first place to start is to locate the county where the arrest was prosecuted. Sometimes that county is different that where the arrest occurred. Find a lawyer in that county or nearby that is proficient in the expungement process and set up a consultation. If someone is going to try and do it without a lawyer, look to that county's court for any "local rules" that may apply to the process of expunging a criminal record. Then follow the state statutes and any court rules or codes that apply. is a website dedicated to providing easy access to local lawyers for people that want to expunge their criminal record.

Monday, November 5, 2012