Can you erase your criminal record?

Blue skyIs a criminal record interfering with your job search and other goals? You may be able to seal your record and make a new start.

In official circles, sealing your record is called expungement. It’s a process that means that landlords, employers and most other people can’t learn about your record. Your conviction still exists and information would be made available to authorities in certain cases, however, for most public queries, it is in effect erased.

Who is eligible for expungement?

In many states, a juvenile record can be sealed when the individual turns 18. Adult records may also be sealed in certain circumstances, with different rules applying in each state. Generally, these are the factors considered:

  • The seriousness of a crime. It’s unlikely a crime involving violence or a sex offense could be expunged.
  • Age at offense.
  • Length of time since the arrest.
  • Whether terms of the sentence, probation, or work diversion program were completed.
  • Existence of more than one offense on record.

How can you find out if your record can be expunged?

It starts with your application. Follow these steps in your state:

  • Get an official copy of your record. From State Resources, select your state. Then look under Documents and Vital Records, and click on Criminal Record. You’ll find the website or phone number to get a copy of your criminal record.
  • Find free or low-cost legal help. You may need a lawyer to help get your record expunged. If you do not already have legal help, go to State Resources, select your state, and click on Legal Assistance. Find a link to a group in your area that offers free or low-cost legal help to call or email.

What if my record is not eligible for expungement?

CareerOneStop’s Job Search Help for Ex-Offenders was developed to provide answers and guidance for your career, training and job search. Check out these links for useful tips:

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