The expungement process varies depending on the state and local jurisdiction where you seek to have your criminal record permanently destroyed. To find out if your expungement request was granted, wait for an order from the judge and a certificate from the court and law enforcement agency involved. When a certificate of compliance or other similar certificate and order has been issued, you know that the agency holding your criminal record has been notified and has a certain amount of time to expunge your record or contest the expungement.
Online Is the Quickest
Many state websites provide expungement request forms and handbooks to help you to understand the expungement process and to file on your own. These websites provide downloadable forms and may also provide a registration process that allows you to check the status of your expungement. For example, Kentucky allows you to sign up for an account and begin the expungement request process online. If your state, or the court handling your expungement, allows you to set up an account like this, you can find out whether the expungement complies with guidelines by checking the status of your certificate or court order online.
A Certificate of Compliance Comes First
The state or court system where you seek expungement usually requires you to first obtain a certificate of compliance that certifies that you meet all guidelines for expungement, pending final approval by individual law enforcement agencies. Obtaining the certificate brings you a step closer to expungement. But a certificate is limited; it only indicates that your request for expungement was received. Law enforcement agencies, which may include parole and probation offices, must review your request and determine whether to expunge your criminal record from their systems. The return times vary, usually 30 to 90 days from receipt of your request.
Law Enforcement Agencies Conduct Reviews
The expungement process can take several months, as the court and law enforcement agencies must conduct their own reviews. Also, agencies in certain states or municipalities often face large backlogs that cause further delays in response times. The instruction guide you used to petition or file for expungement typically provides a time frame for response. If you do not hear back from the court within the required time, either online, by e-mail or by regular mail, contact the court directly to find out about your status. If you have received confirmation that your certificate of compliance has been issued, you may still have to wait several more months before you hear back from law enforcement agencies, which can delay the process if they do not agree that your record should be expunged.
Double Check With the Court
Should you not receive an answer about your expungement from every agency that was involved with your case within the amount of time required by law, you may need to consult a lawyer and possibly sue in order to get a response. First, however, contact each agency directly to check on your status. Also check with the court to see if it has received any information from the agency. It's possible that the court has received confirmation that your expungement was granted, but you have not received notice due to a processing or mailing error. The most accurate way to know whether your record will be expunged is to find out directly from the court.
- Keep expunction records in a safe location. Most courts destroy documents referencing the request once the process is complete.
Karina C. Hernandez is a licensed real estate agent since 2004 in San Diego. She has written legal articles pertaining to housing and real estate for multiple internet channels over the past 10 years. She has a B.A. in English from UCLA.