In the U.S., crime is divided into two categories: Misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies refer to more serious crimes. It is is classified as mala in se crimes. A person charged with felony may have to spend considerable time behind bars (a minimum of one year) and pay a penalty, as well.
Felony charges stay on your record for life and can have harsh effects on you and your loved ones. A person is charged with felony when he or she commits a ‘true crime’ such as homicide, murder, rape, human trafficking, escaping from prison, and so on. The consequences of being charged with felony are:
- Loss of the right to vote
- Loss of job
- Low-quality social life
- Suspension of licenses, and others
Therefore, if you have been charged with a felony, you must try to get the charges expunged from your records forever.
What is expungement, and how can felony charges be expunged?
Getting Felonies Expunged
According to Wikipedia, “an expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which a first-time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, making the records unavailable through the state or federal repositories.” One thing you must understand is that the felony charges are never erased from one’s criminal history, and can be accessed only if the court orders it.
Once expunged, however, the criminal records will be cleared forever and the person will have the legal right to lead a normal life.
It is easier to get the charges for lesser crimes expunged, but the process can be somewhat complicated. Expungement laws vary by state, which is why it is important to work with an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate the complex legalities and get your records cleared forever. For example, expungement for felony crimes in Colorado can be easily granted if you are found innocent of the charges against you or if you get the case dismissed. But if you proceeded to trial, the chances of expungement diminish significantly.
To get the charges expunged, here is what you need to know.
Who Qualifies for Expungement
In order to determine whether or not you qualify for expunction of felony charges, you need to understand the kind of charges brought against you. If you are charged with a low-level offense, such as possession of a controlled substance or theft, the chances of expunction are higher. However, if you are charged with high-level offenses, such as aggravated assault or sexual assault, the chances of expunction diminish considerably.
Some states disqualify expunction requests if the person was sentenced to prison. However, you may qualify if you received a probated or deferred sentence. This does not mean that you cannot get the charges expunged if you landed in prison. If you are able to prove that you spent considerable time in jail and that you have become a responsible law-abiding citizen, you can get the charges expunged.
An experienced lawyer can help you prove this to lead a normal and happy life.
Next, you need to decide when to file the petition to get the charges expunged. A person charged with felony needs to wait for a certain period of time before he or she can file a petition for the expunction of charges. The waiting period ranges from five to ten years after conviction. A skilled lawyer will be able to help you determine when to file a petition. Filing the petition before qualifying will mean a waste of time and money.
Filing the Petition
Once you have completed probation and the waiting time is over, you can file a petition with the help of a lawyer. You are required to send a legal notice to the original law enforcement agency, the state agencies managing criminal histories in your state, and the district attorney’s office that handled your case. All the necessary documents and information should be provided along with the notice. Once the parties receive the notice, you will be required to request a court hearing. If your request is granted, you get a chance to prove your innocence; if not, you cannot have the charges expunged.
The expungement process takes between three months to a year, so you must be patient and work with a reputed lawyer.
Being charged with a felony can be life-altering; however, you can improve your life by getting the charges expunged. Expunction of low-level felonies is easier, but if you are charged with a high-level felony, then you must work hard to convince the judge for an expunction.
Moreover, expungement laws differ by jurisdiction, which is why you need to hire a seasoned lawyer who has experience in representing cases that deal with the expunction of felony charges. An experienced lawyer will help you navigate the complex laws and provide you with valuable advice that will help you get the charges expunged.