How to Erase a Felony Record

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Criminal convictions compromise your ability to find employment. Many professional associations, such as bar associations, deny membership to individuals who have been convicted of serious felonies. Felonies are defined as crimes punishable by one or more years in prison. Crimes such as burglary, fraud, rape, and murder are classified as felonies. In some states, you can erase a felony if you comply with strict eligibility requirements regarding age at the time of conviction, length of time since the commission of the crime and time served for the crime.

Gather information regarding the crime. Obtain important information, including the police arrest dates and precinct name, the docket number for the trial and the detention or prison facility where the sentence was served.

Read the relevant laws regarding expungement (erasure) of felonies from the county where the conviction occurred. Many jurisdictions do not permit a felony to be erased; however, other jurisdictions (New Jersey) allow expungement if the felony was committed while you were a juvenile. Other states, including California, only allow expungement after you fully serve probation; therefore, if you were released early or broke probation, you are likely not be eligible for expungement.

Petition the court to expunge the felony. File a motion to expunge with the court where the conviction occurred together with the correct filing fee. The clerk of the court can give you a copy of the motion, or you can get one online at the website of the court.

Wait for the disposition of the court. You will attend a hearing in which you will respond to questions from the court regarding your conviction and your request to erase the record. The judge will issue a written disposition regarding the case and will issue an order to expunge, if she decides in your favor.

Contact other agencies and give them a copy of your expungement order. The police precinct, prison or detention facility may also have records relating to the felony. Request that they remove records regarding the arrest, prison time or other relevant information. Follow the procedures that the agency outlines to remove or seal the records.

Warnings

  • Courts can only order the expungement of court records. Police precincts and detention facilities have their own procedures for sealing records. You will have to comply with each agency's regulations regarding expungement.

References

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About the Author

Trudie Longren began writing in 2008 for legal publications, including the "American Journal of Criminal Law." She has served as a classroom teacher and legal writing professor. Longren holds a bachelor's degree in international politics, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in human rights. She also speaks Spanish and French.

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