A criminal record can impact your ability to obtain employment or to be admitted to an institution of higher learning. However, if you have a criminal record for a relatively minor offense, such as underage drinking, you may be eligible for expungement. Expungment is simply the removal of all official court records that document a criminal offense.
Review your state's laws regarding records expungement, as laws vary by jurisdiction. Determine who is eligible for record expungement, what kinds of records may be expunged and the process for requesting an expungement. In most states, records of non-convictions (not-guilty verdicts and dismissed or withdrawn charges) and records of summary offenses (relatively minor offenses, including underage drinking) are easily expunged if you have not been charged with a new offense within so many years.
Obtain relevant paperwork from the criminal division of your local department of court records, including a copy of the police report, any court filings filed by you or the prosecutor and a certified copy of disposition (record of the outcome of a case).
Draft a motion for the court to expunge your records and a proposed expungement order. Obtain templates for the motion and order from the clerk's office of the court in which the records were issued. Draft a cover lever enclosing the motion, proposed court order and all court records. Attach an affidavit to certify the veracity of all information enclosed and that you have not been convicted of any offenses since the underage drinking.
File the motion with the clerk's office of the court that handled the case. Pay any applicable filing fees. Attend a hearing, if required by the court, and formally present your request for expungement to the judge. If the judge agrees to expunge your records, he will sign an order of expungement, mandating that the court destroy all records of the underage drinking offense.
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