A misdemeanor is a minor criminal offense in which the punishment is less severe than a felony offense. In the United States, the various states may place different weights on certain crimes causing the punishment to vary. A crime is considered a misdemeanor when the punishment for the criminal offense results in incarceration for no more than one (1) year. In addition, if an individual is charged for a misdemeanor it may result in a fine and or incarceration. In being charged for a misdemeanor, it is considered as a more serious offense than an infraction. An infraction is a criminal offense that does not result in any jail time.
What is an Expungement?
In criminal law, the term expungement refers to the destroying of a criminal offense from an individual’s criminal record. In destroying the criminal offense from the record, it will no longer be accessible by law enforcement agencies, criminal justice systems and general public which varies by state. An expunged misdemeanor criminal record may be granted to an individual through various processes depending on the state. In addition, a misdemeanor can be expunged based on the severity of the criminal offense.
In the United States, many jurisdictions will use a variety of terms for expungement which includes “Petition for Dismissal” and “Sealing Record”. Typically among the different states misdemeanor offenses conducted by juvenile offenders are eligible for expungement. The expungement process is automatically done once the juvenile has reached the age of twenty-one (21) years old.
Misdemeanors Eligible for Expungement
In the United States the eligibility for the expunging of misdemeanor criminal records vary with each state, which is based on the laws governing the state. The information outlined below will provide an insight on the offenses that are typically considered as misdemeanors among the states. These misdemeanors may qualify for expungement, they include:
- Resisting Arrest
- Minor theft crimes
- Minor battery and assault charges
- Traffic and driving under the influence (DUI) offenses
- Trespassing and vandalism
- Non-violent offenses – such as breach of the peace, failure to appear in court and disorderly conduct
- Juvenile offense – except offenses that would be considered as a felony, if same offense was committed by an adult
There are certain circumstances where an individual may not qualify for the expunging of their misdemeanor criminal record. Some misdemeanor charges are considered as a borderline felony charge otherwise called “wobblers”. Wobblers are criminal charges that can either treated as a felony or misdemeanor. In such a situation these criminal charges are not eligible for expungement. Furthermore, individuals with DUI conviction records that resulted in the death of another party will not qualify for expungement.
Conditions for Misdemeanor Expungement
Before an individual tries to have their misdemeanor criminal record expunged, they are required to meet specific qualifications. These qualifications will vary from state to state. It is important for an individual to find out more about the laws governing record expungement for the state in which they are trying to expunge the criminal record.
If your state does not offer the automatic expungement option for your criminal record, it will be required for you to initiate the expungement request. Regardless of the state there are basic requirements that an individual is required to meet. These requirements will include:
- Fulfill or serve the terms of the original sentence
- If given a probationary period, the individual should complete probation without any violations or incidents
- Complete the appropriate waiting period associated with the offense
- Should have a limited amount of prior criminal arrests or convictions
- No expunged misdemeanor record that is similar to the one currently being requested for expungement
Individuals who are granted an expungement for a misdemeanor does not allow the restoring of certain privileges. However their criminal record will be cleared with the expungement. The following will outline certain measures that an expungement cannot override.
- Gun ownership privileges that have been revoked due to criminal offense cannot be restored with an expungement
- Individuals who have been charges for a sex related offense will not be excused from registering on the sex offenders list based on the record being expunged
- Depending on the state law, an expungement may not excuse an individual from disclosing prior criminal charges on a job application.
If an individual expunge a priorable misdemeanor crime from their criminal record, the crime will still affect them with future related crimes. A priorable is considered as a crime that can be used to increase the severity of future related crimes.DUI convictions are referred to as priorables since charges are more severe for repeat offenders.
How to expunge a misdemeanor
In expunging a misdemeanor offense from your criminal record, you should first determine if your offense qualifies. After determining the eligibility of your criminal offense, you can obtain the relevant application form. In order to obtain the application form, you can contact the county clerk or crime information center in your state.
Once you have obtained the form, you are required to follow the instructions outlined to successful complete the application process. After filling out the information, you should then return the form to the appropriate agency. Typically among the various states, it is required that a processing fee is paid. This fee should be made payable to the appropriate agency in the form of a money order or certified check.
Once the agency has received the expungement request, they will review the necessary paperwork and determine if the request will be granted. If the request is granted, the offense will be removed from your criminal record.