A felony conviction negatively affects your life long record even after you complete your sentence and pay your debt to society. You can get some felonies expunged – or removed from your record – in Kansas. Generally, wiping the slate clean is available for low-severity felonies where a waiting period has passed. A criminal past doesn't necessarily have to come back to bite you whenever a potential employer or landlord runs a background check.
What Was Your Crime?
Determine if your felony conviction is eligible for expungement. Some felonies stay on your record no matter what. If you were convicted for committing or attempting murder, manslaughter or a sexual offense, you cannot petition for expungement of those records.
How Much Time Has Passed?
Determine if enough time has passed since you completed your sentence. Kansas uses a 10-level grid system to classify felonies based on their severity. The lower the number, the more severe the crime. Drug crimes have a separate four-level grid that follows the same logic.
You can petition the court that convicted you three years after you finish your sentence for non-drug felonies ranging from 6 to 10 on the severity scale, or level 4 if you were convicted of a drug felony.
You must wait five years after the completion of your sentence for non-drug felonies ranging from 1 to 5 on the severity scale, or level 1 to 3 if you were convicted of a drug felony. This five-year rule also applies to "off-grid" felonies that fall outside Kansas' grid scheme, but most of those crimes are not eligible for expungement.
File a Petition
File a Petition for Expungement with the court that convicted you if you meet all the qualifying rules. The Kansas Judicial Council provides approved expungement petition forms on its website. Your petition must include your full name at the time of conviction, your sex, race and date of birth, information about the felony you want expunged including the date of conviction, and information about the convicting court. Include the $195 docket fee. The court will schedule a hearing to consider your petition.
Attend the Hearing
Attend the expungement hearing. The court will decide whether you and your situation warrant an expungement and whether it serves the public interest to wipe your slate clean. If so, the court will grant an expungement order. This removes the felony from public view, so that potential employers, landlords and members of the public will not be able to see it; as if you did not commit the crime. However, law enforcement official and the courts will still be able to see your full criminal history with the felony in situ.
Understand, too, that only this particular felony will be removed from your record. there's no process for wiping your entire record clean, and you have to make an expungement application for each eligible felony separately.
Some Things to Keep in Mind
You can contact the local district attorney in the judicial district where you were originally convicted for assistance. Some offer help with expungement petitions that can streamline the process for applicants.
Your conviction can still affect you in certain situations even after your record is expunged. You must still disclose your felony conviction when applying for jobs in policing, law, finance or gaming if you're asked, or if you apply for a commercial driver's license. You must also disclose it when applying for a concealed weapons permit under Kansas law.
If you get into trouble with the law again, a judge can use your expunged conviction when calculating your sentence for a new offense.
Chris Malcolm is a writer with a background in journalism, law and politics. A former student journalist and editor, he now works as a writer, researcher and consultant. Malcolm holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas and an M.A. in indigenous governance from the University of Victoria.