Mississippi's expungement law involves a court-related action that erases or seals an arrest record or criminal conviction from public records. The process of expunging a record is often referred to as "setting aside a criminal conviction." Mississippi, like other states, has specific procedures to follow to take advantage of the process.
Approval of the petition for expungement means the person does not have to disclose the arrest or conviction information to the public, such as filling out a job disclosure for a job or apartment rental application or applying for college. In addition, the information gets deleted from public records should a company, school or other entity conduct a background check.
An expungement makes life much easier in a variety of ways. A person who has a felony can legally answer "no" when asked if has had a felony conviction. In addition, the individual becomes eligible for a broader range of educational opportunities, professional certifications and career opportunities. He also becomes eligible for federal housing and educational loans previously unavailable because of the criminal record.
The applicable records and statutes that apply to expungement in Mississippi include first-offender misdemeanors (excluding traffic violations) and certain drug-related arrests and convictions. The codes for these offenses are 99-19-71 and 41-29-150. The regulation allows for a record of the offense to remain with the court system and the Mississippi Criminal Information Center, which may use the files to determine in future court action if the person has an offense. For criminal records without convictions, refer to Mississippi Codes 99-15-26 and 99-15-59.Three codes deal with the expungement of juvenile criminal records: 43-21-265, 43-21-263, and 43-21-159. These codes are current as of May 2010. Currently, Mississippi statutes do not allow for the expungement of felony convictions.
To apply for an expungement in Mississippi requires the applicant to have demonstrated "good conduct and rehabilitation" since the last conviction, including the payment of fines, court cost and assessments. You must contact the municipal court or prosecutor's office in the municipality where the court action took place to get information on how to obtain an expungement. Typically, you must pay a fee. A judge reviews the file and renders a decision.
"Expunging" a record does not mean the same as sealing a record. An expungement refers to records that officials destroys by order from the judge as if the crime did not take place."Sealing" a record prevents individuals from accessing the the information through public records.
Keep in mind that expungement do not completely do away with your record. Some government entities, law enforcement agencies and criminal courts still have access to the information. Certain legal proceedings dealing with criminal matters or immigration/deportation issues refer to expunged records as evidence of "prior convictions."