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Does an expungement mean your record is erased?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Many people who want to have their criminal records expunged ultimately want to have any evidence that they were in trouble with the law eliminated. After they go through this process, they think that their record will be erased. It will be as if they had never been arrested in the first place and had never been convicted in court.

It is, ultimately, not quite that simple. Expungement can be beneficial, but it simply does not work the way that many people assume. Here’s how it could work for you.

Your record would be sealed

Instead of erasing it, expungement seals your record. If you apply for a job and your potential employer runs a background check, they’re not going to see it. It will be sealed from public view. The same is true if others run background checks when you try to apply for certain loans or get an apartment or go to college. For whatever you’re attempting to do, if the public is looking into your record, it will appear that it doesn’t exist.

But that record does still exist. The authorities can access it if they need to. They can still do so for immigration issues, for instance. If you were ever arrested again, the authorities would know that you had been arrested in the past and had previous offenses.

Even so, expungement can be very beneficial. As noted above, it can open a lot of doors for you that may have been closed when a background check would still expose this record publicly. Perhaps most important is access to employment. Many people get trapped in a cycle of criminal activity simply because they can’t find any other way to make money. The goal of expungement is to alleviate such stress and allow a person to fully integrate back into society – including finding a place to live, getting a job and things of that nature.

Exploring the process

It is certainly important for you to understand how the expungement process works and what it is going to accomplish. You also need to know what legal steps to take if this is something that you are interested in utilizing. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.