From unsolved mob murders to puzzling cases on seemingly innocent people (such as the Daniel Holtzclaw case), there’s no shortage of mysteries in the criminal space. One of the greatest mysteries people still struggle to understand is expungement. For a legal layman, it’s often tough to understand what expungement is, who is eligible for it, and how it can serve people with criminal records. Fortunately, we’re here to clear up some of the confusion. Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide explaining everything you need to know about criminal expungement.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is the process of sealing arrest and conviction records. Expungement essentially erases a criminal offense from your record. Practically every state has enacted laws that allow citizens to expunge certain arrests and convictions from their records. However, it’s important to note that the legalities surrounding expungement often vary from one state to another. Most states provide that, once someone’s record has been expunged, this doesn’t need to be disclosed in various contexts in the future (such as for tenancy or employment applications).

Who Is Eligible for Criminal Expungement?

People who have committed certain types of crimes under certain types of circumstances are eligible for expungement. Some of these records eligible for expungement include (but are not limited to):

  • Drug offenses, particularly first offenders and/or those who were arrested/detained but not convicted
  • Records for summary offenses
  • Convictions for people who are 70 years of age or older
  • Underage consumption, possession, or purchase of alcohol

A person’s criminal record and the severity of the crime are also two major factors that influence the court’s decision of whether to expunge a person’s record or not.

Where Is Expungement Valid?

Almost every state allows criminal expungement, but there is no single offense that can be cleared in every single state that allows it. This is why it’s so important to seek professional assistance from a lawyer in your state to get the most accurate, up-to-date information on expungement regulations in your region. For instance, if you wanted to learn how to expunge your record in Oklahoma and if you were eligible to do so, your best bet would be hiring a lawyer in Oklahoma. They will have firsthand knowledge on whether you will be able to effectively expunge your record and get your life back on track.

Benefits of Expungement

There are several benefits to criminal expungement, some of the main ones being:

  • Protection of privacy – You won’t ever have to disclose your expungement history to anyone else in the future. It is your private information
  • Opens up more possibilities for employment, housing, or schooling – Without a criminal record, you’ll have the chance to take advantage of more opportunities in more areas of life
  • Facilitate a loan in the future – Receiving financial aid is much easier with a clean criminal record
  • Peace of mind – You’ll rest easy knowing that you have no criminal record attached to your name

There’s no denying that expungement can be difficult to understand, especially if you’re a legal novice. With the help of this handy guide, you’ll hopefully have a much better shot at not only understanding the principle, but potentially taking advantage of it yourself.