When a person has a criminal background, even one that is relatively minor, it often has a profound and negative impact on that person's life. A criminal background can prevent an otherwise decent person from gaining employment in their desired field. Or, some professions may require a specific license or certification, and a person with a criminal background may be precluded from obtaining the required license. Some people that have a criminal background are even denied certain rights, such as the right to vote or the right to possess a firearm. Quite simply, there is nothing good about having a criminal background of any kind.
Here at Diesel Law, Ltd., we find it very unfortunate that so many people are so severely condemned and judged by society for things they did in the past. If a person never made a mistake they would hardly be human. Everybody makes mistakes. In fact, our mistakes is one of the main qualities that make us human. But that is not to say that employers and other entities should never be able to investigate and research a person's background. Employers, for example, should know if a prospective employee had previously been convicted of embezzlement. In other cases, safety may be the concern. For example, police officers may need to check a background as a precautionary measure to discern whether the person they are dealing with is violent and potentially dangerous.
Over time, though, many people do change. Some people may only have certain periods in their lives where they cut loose and behaved recklessly. Perhaps this person used to drink and party too often. But now, this same person is happily married, works full-time, and raises small children. In fact, some folks change so much over the years to the point where they are almost unrecognizable. And to this reformed type, the ability to expunge and/or seal their criminal records is particularly attractive and should be taken advantage of.
If a person decides to try and expunge or seal their criminal records, it is always in their best interests to hire an experienced attorney. While the process may seem simple and relatively straightforward, that is not always the case. First, there are time requirements that must be satisfied. In other words, before a person's record can be expunged or sealed, the requisite time period must lapse in certain situations. Second, not every criminal offense is eligible for expungement or sealing. Some crimes, such as aggravated battery, for example, simply cannot be expunged or sealed. Third, certain crimes can only be expunged or sealed if specific things are attached to the petition. And finally, there is an important distinction that has to be made between expunged records and sealed records. In order to expunge a criminal record, the person's entire record must be eligible for expungement. This means that if the person seeking to expunge their record has anything on their record that cannot be expunged, then the record cannot be expunged. In this case, the person's recourse is to seal individual records, and sealed records are treated differently than expunged records.
Another reason it is important for a person seeking to expunge or seal their records to hire counsel is because the State often objects to these petitions. Simply because a person meets all of the requirements to have their records expunged or sealed, this does not mean that the records are expunged or sealed automatically. In some cases, the State will object to the petition and argue that it is not in the best interests of the public that a particular person's records be expunged or sealed. And if the State takes this route, the matter will be set down for hearing and go before a judge who will then decide whether the records are to be expunged or not. If the matter is at this stage of the proceedings, it would be much wiser for the petitioner to have an attorney speaking on their behalf regarding the ways they have changed for the better, and moreover, to emphasize the unlikelihood that they will get arrested and charged for crimes in the future.