If a prior conviction has been hanging over your head for a while, you might consider seeking an expungement for the crime. Usually, states do not consider expungement if the convicted person has more than one conviction or if that person has not actively addressed the concern (such as alcoholism treatment or violence counseling). Expungement, the sealing of a record, is probably not worth seeking unless the offense was a DUI or similar in severity. By expunging your driving record, you have effectively "erased" the prior criminal record.
Research the types of expungement offered by the state in which you were convicted. For instance, Illinois does "seal" records but will not clear convictions. In the case of some crimes, states have a system that automatically clears a record of minors. An example is Missouri, which expunges convictions of minor possession of alcohol. There are also programs such as San Francisco's Operation Clean Slate that help individuals get their records expunged.
Consult a criminal expungement lawyer. A lawyer who specializes in this kind of law can channel your efforts efficiently, which will help you to get the kind of legal decision you seek. Mistakes in paperwork, filled out without a lawyer, may result in a longer process or in a rejection of your claim.
Read More: How to Petition the Court for an Expungement
Consider the types of expungement requests. Each state offers a range of requests, including sealing an adult record, sealing a minor's record and sealing a record for a nonconviction.
Acquire the paperwork from the court clerk where the conviction was given. These forms will require your old and current address, name, social security number and the file number. Carefully fill out this paperwork. Present evidence of your reformation in a sympathetic way.
If possible, attend the hearing of your case. Try to convey the grounds for expungement clearly and precisely. Often, your request of expungement will be granted by the courts and you can proceed with your career unimpeded by past crimes.
John Yargo is a sports writer, living in Orlando, Fla. His work regularly appears in the "Jackson Free Press," and he has published articles on theater, fiction and art history. He has also received a master's degree in English.