Tips for Criminal Record Expungement
- The Internet Remembers
- Effect on Job Search
- Location Matters
- Effect on Immigration
- Changes From Congress
Getting a criminal record expunged enables a person to live as though the incident never occurred. One of the main reasons for having a criminal offense expunged is because of the effect it can have on getting a job and housing. An expungement means that a person can answer a question about having ever been convicted of a crime with a “no.” However, a person who is interested in a paralegal degree after getting a record expunged should research state law and other requirements to find out whether the conviction still needs to be revealed.
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1. The Internet Remembers
Pre-internet, having a crime expunged was fairly straightforward. The conviction would be removed from court records, and a person who wanted to find out about the incident would have to know enough about it in the first place to go searching in newspaper archives. Now, with just the knowledge of a person’s name and the power of Google and other search engines, people can bring up information such as news stories and mug shots. Some information can be removed from the internet, and there are services that can bury such information several pages into a search, but people should be aware the information may still be out there.
2. Effect on Job Search
Not only does the internet remember, but companies that run background checks might as well. Some of these companies download databases and store them, and if an expungement happens after this, the conviction could still be reported. In some cases, applications such as those for law school, admission to the state bar or even a paralegal degree may require expunged convictions to be revealed.
3. Location Matters
How much any of this will affect a person’s life depends in part on what state the person lives in. As this article from the American Bar Association describes, the process even has different names from state to state. Some states only allow expungement of misdemeanors while others will only permit arrests that did not result in a conviction to be expunged.
4. Effect on Immigration
A person could still be deported from the United States despite having a record expunged. Waivers are available in some cases, but overall this is a complex process. With immigration law rapidly changing, even naturalized citizens might want to consult an immigration attorney if they have questions about expungement, immigration and deportation.
5. Changes From Congress
Change could be ahead. Recognizing how much even a relatively minor criminal conviction can limit a person’s life, Senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker introduced the REDEEM Act several years ago, which would expand a person’s ability to get records expunged or sealed. If passed, the act would allow any juvenile offenses that were nonviolent to be sealed or expunged automatically. Adults with nonviolent federal crime convictions might be able to get those records sealed.
Getting a criminal record expunged is not always possible, but it is worth looking into. While a person with a paralegal degree cannot practice law, a paralegal or an attorney can assist a person in preparing the necessary paperwork that needs to be submitted to the court.