If you have been charged with a crime, there is a chance that you will be acquitted or the charge will be thrown out. It is also possible that you will plea to a lesser charge or lesser charges. Typically, you are allowed to ask that a charge or charges be expunged if any of these things happens.
What Is an Expungment?
When a charge is expunged, it is sealed from view of anyone who may do a criminal background check. In essence, it is as if the charge never took place, which is critical for those who want to go to school or get a job. However, it may still be seen by employers if you need to carry a gun or work with children. The charge may also be visible to those who are doing a firearm background check.
The Charge Doesn’t Go Away
It is important to understand that the charge does not go away, and it can still be seen by law enforcement in certain situations. If you are charged with a federal crime or a crime outside of the state of New York, that could still come up in a background check if it is not sealed or expunged there.
Your Fingerprints May Not Be Sealed
When the charge is sealed, all DNA and fingerprint evidence related to that charge is sealed and can no longer be seen by most. The only exception is if your fingerprints were taken and put on file in a case that you lost or otherwise never had the charge sealed after an acquittal. This means that an employer or others who do a background check may be able to get information about you through information taken related to another case.
Sealing Your Record Isn’t An Absolute Right
You shouldn’t expect to have your record sealed in all cases. Generally, only misdemeanors and traffic offenses can be fully sealed after it goes in your favor. Furthermore, any crime that occurs when you are a minor is generally sealed from public view. In the event that you can’t get your charge sealed, it may be possible to get a certificate of good standing, which enables you to get a professional license or otherwise find employment.
How Do Criminal Charges Effect Other Rights?
If you are charged with a felony, you may not be able to apply for student aid or the right to vote. When a charge is sealed, you once again have the right to financial aid and the right to vote in any election that you would generally be entitled to vote. Therefore, it is critical that you get the assistance of an attorney who can help with this process as it can be a large step toward normalizing your life.
A criminal charge only means that there is evidence a crime has been committed. However, it doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong. With the help of your attorney, you can win your case and then make sure that as few people know about the charge as possible.