What Is the Difference Between Annulment & Expunged?

By Shailynn Krow
Annulment and expungements are determined by a judge, not a jury.

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In legal terminology, an annulment and an expunged record both involve the elimination of a court record. An annulment deals with marriages, while expunged refers to public or criminal records. An individual may request an annulment himself or with the assistance of an attorney, while expunging a record requires a more extensive process and the assistance of an attorney. To understand both terms, you must first understand the definition and grounds for using them.

Annulment by Definition

An annulment dissolves a marriage record. When a couple receives an annulment, it's as if the marriage never occurred --- the marriage is erased from the public record. A divorce, on the other hand, stays on a couple's public record for the rest of their lives. A state government issues a civil annulment, while a church grants a religious annulment, according to Nolo.com.

Annulment Qualifications

Each state has its own qualifications for what makes a couple eligible for a civil annulment, while religious annulments depend on the couple's religion and the individual overseeing it. States often grant civil annulments for reasons of fraud, concealment, or an inability to consummate the marriage. For example, if an individual in the marriage concealed information from his partner, such as a sexually transmitted disease, previous marriages or a criminal record, this concealment is grounds for a civil annulment.

Expunged by Definition

Expungement deals with public and criminal records. Entire criminal records can be expunged from existence so that it appears as if they never existed. In certain states, the term "expunged" refers to totally destroying or removing criminal records; other states, however, may expunge a record, but that doesn't mean that the record is gone forever, according to Lawyers.com. Instead, the record remains on the individual's public profile but is listed as expunged; therefore, that information can't be used against him.

Expungement Qualifications

Each state has different requirements for expunging a criminal record. The most common cases of expunged records, according to Lawyers.com, are those involving juvenile crimes. Once a juvenile reaches an age determined by the court, the court expunges any crimes before that age from the juvenile's record. There are exceptions to this rule, no matter the age of the offender. Sexual offenses, for example, don't qualify for removal. Other instances that disqualify an individual from expungement include pending court fees or hearings, pending arrests, open cases and a previously expunged record.

About the Author

Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.

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