How to Clean Up Your Criminal Background Record

By K. Lynn Wallace - Updated June 20, 2017
Man reading through a copy of criminal background report

Your criminal background report may be hindering your ability to secure employment, be admitted to school, or even to obtain credit. It is important to clean up your criminal background record in order to ensure that there is nothing holding you back from your goals.

Obtain a copy of your criminal background record. Contact the courthouse in the jurisdiction where you were involved with the criminal system. If there are multiple jurisdictions involved, the records may be consolidated, or you may have to contact multiple jurisdictions.

Check for errors. Many times there are mistakes on your criminal background report, which you can correct without court involvement. These are often the easiest things to remove from your record, so you should address them first. Check to make sure the charges, the dispositions, and all names and dates are correct. If there is an error, contact the clerk's office in the jurisdiction that handled the matter for advice. The clerk's office can remove certain errors, while the prosecutor's office must handle others.

File to expunge charges for which you were found not guilty and charges that were dismissed. Get an expungement form from the courthouse. Complete all sections, listing your information, the case numbers, dates and other required information. There is sometimes a fee for expungements.

Expunge any eligible convictions, such as minor alcohol and traffic violations (which many areas allow you to expunge after a certain period of time). These rules vary by state. Contact the criminal department of your local courthouse to determine whether any of your convictions might be eligible.

About the Author

K. Lynn Wallace attended the University of the Arts and University of Baltimore Law school and is now an attorney in Maryland. She has a general litigation practice and has been a writer since 2009. She has served on the editorial board of the "University of Baltimore Intellectual Property Journal."

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