HOW DO I GET A CONVICTION OFF MY RECORD?
There are very limited circumstances where you are convicted and you can prevent that conviction from being in the public record. Criminal convictions are entered into a database available to everyone including employers, financial institutions, schools, and anyone else who happens to be interested.
As a result, a criminal conviction can affect your employment, your eligibility for student financial aid, your immigration status, where you live, and where you can travel. As such it is important to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer to help prevent any convictions which would render you ineligible for procedures to avoid the public record of convictions. There are several methods available to avoid a permanent conviction.
Whether you qualify for any of the procedures depends on your age, the nature of the offense, the number of charged offenses, and your prior record. Previously, a person could have not had more than one conviction, whether a felony or a misdemeanor, on their record to qualify to have it removed or expunged.
If you had two convictions you could not qualify. However, the law has recently changed and now a person can still expunge a felony conviction even if he or she also has two or fewer misdemeanor offenses.
Effective March of 2017, certain sexual assault convictions may be expunged depending on certain circumstances. This was not previously allowed. A person cannot apply for expungement until 5 years after being released from prison or successfully completing probation.
- HOLMES YOUTHFUL TRAINING ACT
Unlike an expungement that requires at least a 5-year wait after being convicted there exits other programs that can prevent a criminal conviction from initially being entered. If the offender is young and between the ages of 17 and 23, there exists a program where, if successfully completed, there will be no conviction entered on the public record.
This program is referred to as the Holmes Youthful Training Act (HYTA) and is available for most felonies and misdemeanors.
However, not all offenses are eligible for HYTA status. All persons under the age of 23 and are charged with a crime should speak to an attorney before going to court to make sure they are given an opportunity to participate in this program and keep their criminal record clear.
- DRUG OFFENSES: 7411
Another method to keep your record clean involves simple drug offenses such as possession of marijuana and cocaine. There is no age restriction for this type of disposition. As long as you are not convicted of a ‘Delivery of Controlled Substance offense’ you may be eligible for a program similar to HYTA that results in no entry of a conviction.
The program is often referred to as .7411 and must be part of the plea bargain and sentence. A person is put on probation and if successfully completed there would not be a public record of conviction.
- PROSECUTORIAL DEFERRALS
There are some misdemeanor courts that allow a plea agreement which would in effect be similar to HYTA and .7411 for minor misdemeanor offenses not included in those statutes. This is called a prosecutorial deferral as it can only occur with the consent of the prosecutor involved in the case.
This method is not available in every court thereby making it very important to retain an attorney familiar with criminal law and the individual courts. The “deferral ” results in a dismissal after the successful completion of probation.