Outside the penalties that follow a criminal conviction, individuals can face numerous consequences. Depending on factors such as the severity of the offense and the individual’s criminal record, he or she could face penalties such as jail time, community service, restitution or loss of driving privileges. Unfortunately, various consequences can continue to negatively impact someone’s life well into the future.
A criminal record can present challenges in many ways. An individual might find it difficult to get the job they want, to live in the neighborhood they prefer or to receive the personal loan they need. A criminal record can impact professional licensure as well as security clearance. It is wise to take steps to erase or seal the record as soon as it is possible.
Depending on several factors, an individual can follow three paths:
- Expungement: While there are numerous restrictions tied to the type of offense and the time that has passed, expungement is the process by which an individual can erase arrests and court supervisions from the criminal record.
- Sealing: Sealing the criminal record effectively hides it from most of the public. Law enforcement agencies can still access the record as can employers who are required by law to conduct background checks. These employers cannot see misdemeanor convictions or cases that did not result in a conviction unless the employer is a law enforcement agency.
- Executive clemency: Individuals who are not eligible for either expungement or sealing can seek executive clemency. This is a pardon from the Governor forgiving them for the criminal convictions. The pardon itself does not erase or seal the record but can include an authorization for expungement.
Individuals who are arrested or charged with a crime have a criminal record. It is crucial that individuals explore the possibility of expungement or sealing the record at the earliest possible time. Before that, the criminal record is accessible by the public including friends, family members, employers and credit agencies. While there are numerous restrictions and eligibility requirements, an experienced criminal defense attorney can provide the guidance you need.