How to Expunge Your Record

October 29, 2012  |  Jon P. Erickson

If you have a criminal charge on your record from when you were younger, you have the possibility of erasing it from your history. This erasing, or sealing, is called expungement.
The Past is the Past
You shouldn’t have to live forever by the mistakes you made when you were younger and allow them to haunt your future. People sometimes  do crazy things when they are young and when they grow older they could end up really regretting them. Unfortunately, this criminal past can prevent you from many things in life because it shows up on your criminal record. You may even have a difficult time finding employment because of it.
A criminal record expungement is not a guaranteed thing. You still have to go through a proceeding which will help a judge determine whether to grant or deny the request. The judge overseeing the case will typically consider the following points:

  • What type of crime you are seeking to expunge
  • Other charges in your criminal history
  • If you are presently employed or looking for employment
  • If you have taken steps to turn your life around

If the way you are living your current life is in direct contrast with your past, the judge may see that you have turned your life around. This is exactly what they are looking for in this type of proceeding. A judge doesn’t want to erase a criminal record if the person is likely to commit the same crime or other crimes; it defeats the whole purpose.
How It Is Handled
While each jurisdiction may handle the treatment of expungements differently, there are certain criteria that are typically followed:

  • You should be a first time offender
    If you have committed the crime multiple times, it shows that you may commit this crime again. A judge will not expunge your record if they feel that you are likely to commit the same crime repeatedly.


  • You must have completed any court ordered punishments for the crime
    Any jail time and probation must have been completed as well as payment of any fees or fines imposed, and completion of any settlement conditions.


  • There may be a waiting period
    The court may impose a waiting period after the discharge of your crime before you could ask for it to be expunged. Usually, felony crimes have a much longer waiting time than misdemeanors.


  • Limited criminal history
    If you have prior or subsequent charges, a judge is not as likely to grant an expunged record. If the only mark on your criminal record is this one charge, then your chances of having it erased are dramatically increased.

Not every criminal record can be expunged, however. Again, this may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but for the most part, the following are not allowed to be expunged:

      • First and second degree felonies
      • Sex offenses
      • DUI/DWI convictions
      • Violent offenses
      • Child abuse offenses

There are just some criminal charges that are so serious, that they simply must remain on your record as a way of notification and to keep others safe.
Finding Hope in the Future
Most people don’t know how to expunge their criminal records and so an expungement attorney is necessary. At Barna, Guzy & Steffen, LTD. we have been handling expungements on behalf of clients for decades, and have successfully helped many people clear their record.
We will meet with you and go over your criminal history to see if you are a candidate for an expungement of your record. If you are, we will go over every step with you and help you to succeed.  If you are granted the expunged record, it may be a large help in your ability move forward from your past.