A criminal record can interfere with your life long after your case is concluded. Even if you have paid the fines, served any jail time or experienced any other official penalties, you may find that your history interferes with your ability to get employment or even suitable housing.
Filing an expungement petition
Under the Second Chance law, those charged or convicted with certain qualifying crimes may file a petition with the state to have access to their records restricted. This is sometimes known as “expungement.”
The outcome of a petition depends greatly on the specifics of each case. Generally speaking, it’s much easier to restrict records for those who have a single conviction or a small number of relatively low-level offenses in their history. It’s much more difficult for those who have multiple offenses or more serious offenses.
The process can also help people who were arrested on suspicion of a crime but who were never actually charged, or whose convictions were later vacated.
The Second Chance law can help restrict records pertaining to many crimes, but some types of crimes are not eligible for expungement.
Those convicted of a misdemeanor can petition to have access restricted for their court files, department of corrections files, motor vehicles department records and other records. Generally, these individuals cannot file a petition for expungement until five years after the date of their conviction.
Those convicted of certain non-violent felony crimes may be able to petition for expungement eight years after their conviction.
Those convicted of certain violent felony crimes may file for expungement 10 years after conviction. However, those convicted of sex crimes or crimes that resulted in serious injury to another person are not eligible.
In all cases, the person filing for expungement must not have been convicted of any crime within the required period.
It’s important to remember that the Second Chance law can restrict access to criminal records, but does not completely erase them. If you have successfully petitioned to restrict access to your records, you may not have to disclose a previous conviction in some situations, but you will have to do so if under oath.
Those who are looking to put their pasts behind them can speak with experienced professionals about their options under the Second Chance law.