How to Erase a Criminal Record

By M. Shayne Arcilla

A criminal record can have several long-term consequences. You may find it difficult to obtain employment and housing. A record can be expunged -- or sealed -- depending on local state laws. In legal terms, the process is known as vacating the criminal conviction.

Erasing a Criminal Record

Know what you are dealing with by obtaining all criminal records filed against you. While there are several websites that offer complete background checks for a fee, there are also public record researchers at every courthouse in the United States. They are there to assist those who are not familiar with the court records system.

Know the laws of your state. Find your state's judicial branch website and do the research. Having arrests, detentions or investigations which did not lead to convictions can generally be expunged from your record if you satisfy these requirements:
1. A minimum of at least 30 days has elapsed since the arrest occurred. 2. No additional arrests. 3. Charges were dismissed. 4. You were acquitted. 5. You were discharged without conviction and no charges were re-filed. 6. You were released without formal charges being filed.

If you have been convicted, a different set of rules apply. Your state may have rules similar to the following: 1. You have no more than one felony, or two class A or B misdemeanor convictions. 2. You must have been released from incarceration, parole, or probation for a specified amount of time. 3. You must have satisfied all fines and restitution ordered as apart of the sentence. 4. A specific period of time has elapsed (time frame depends on the severity of the crime).

About the Author

Shayne Arcilla has over four years of real estate industry experience and has published in industry journals such as "The Wharton Real Estate Review." She graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor of Science in finance and a minor in economics.