by: Stephen Sebald
We all make mistakes we regret and for many of us, they don’t have lasting negative implications on our lives. For some, however, the mistake made resulting in a criminal record. Whether a felony or a misdemeanor, the criminal record has prevented you from going forward with your life and doing many things you want to do. Current expungement proceedings provide those in which all charges were dismissed, withdrawn, or found not guilty.
You may qualify for a partial expungement of a misdemeanor or felony if part of the charge was dismissed, withdrawn, or found not guilty. You are also eligible for full expungement of misdemeanors and felonies where all charges were dismissed or withdrawn because you completed the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, so long as the offense is not listed under the statute of ineligibility. You meet the criteria for expungement of certain non-traffic citations and offenses as long as five years has passed and no other convictions occurred during that period. Crimes other than misdemeanor offenses cannot be expunged until after the offender turns 70 years old or if he or she has been dead for 3 years.
The new proposed expungement law seeks to extend the eligibility to include those who were convicted of misdemeanors in the second and third degree and who do not have any other convictions during a seven or ten year period, depending on whether the degree of the offense. This would provide more incentive for first-time offenders to move forward from their conviction to work towards rebuilding their lives without a criminal record looming over them for the rest of their lives.
The proposed bill also looks to reduce recidivism and lower the ever-increasing prison costs. Providing people with the opportunity to expunge their previous conviction can help reestablish them as upstanding citizens and can provide them the opportunity to potentially gain better employment. Without this, many may resort to committing another crime because they cannot find a job to provide for themselves, let alone their families.
If this bill were to pass into a law, the long-term effects would benefit not only those with convictions, but also society as a whole. Reducing the likelihood of first-time convictions from repeat offending, the state will save money on prison costs.
One mistake should not have to define your life. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense, contact an experienced defense attorney to determine whether you have the option to expunge your conviction. Though this proposed bill is not yet a law, there is great potential for it to be signed into one. Contact your local representative and let him or her know you support SB 391.
Even if you may not be eligible for an expungement yet, it is never too early to seek advice. At the Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox, we are experienced in expungement law and can provide you with the assistance you require to get the job done right to clear your record. Call today at (814) 833-1987 for more information.