Each week, my office handles dozens of expungement matters, where people wish to have their criminal record cleared, whether it’s because they are trying to get a better job or are tired of having an arrest on their record. Expungements (also called expunctions) are what people request when they want their criminal record cleared and their rights restored. I like to think of them as opportunities for a fresh start.
That being said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to expungements, and whether a record can be expunged depends on the circumstances. Here are a few of the different circumstances where people ask for an expungement, and my general response.
“I was arrested for X misdemeanor or felony, but it was never pursued. Can the charge be expunged?”
Absolutely! Under Mississippi law, if a person was arrested or the case never went forward, then the case is automatically eligible for expungement and, upon requested, the Court must grant the request.
“I was arrested for X misdemeanor or felony, but it was dismissed. Can the charge be expunged?”
Definitely! Just like the previous scenario, a case like this would be automatically eligible for expungement and the Court would have to grant the request.
“I was arrested for X misdemeanor and found guilty. Can I get my conviction expunged?”
Maybe. Mississippi law says that if a person was found guilty on a misdemeanor charge that is not a traffic violation, then that person can request an expungement. There is a catch though. You are only allowed an expungement if this was your first conviction and you have not received a conviction since.
“I was arrested for X misdemeanor or felony and was found not guilty. Can I get my conviction expunged?"
Yes! Just like in the first two situations I described, a person is automatically eligible for an expunction if they are found not guilty, and the Court must grant the request.
“I was arrested for X felony and found guilty. Can I get my conviction expunged?”
Here is where things get tricky. In order to have a felony conviction to be expunged, all fines and court costs must have been paid, and your probation or parole have ended. In other words, all terms and conditions of your sentence must be satisfied. Afterwards, there is a waiting period of five years before an expungement can be requested. On top of that, it must be determined your conviction is a crime that can be expunged. Here is a list of the felony crimes that CANNOT be expunged:
- A crime of violence
- Arson, first degree
- Trafficking in controlled substances
- A third, fourth or subsequent offense DUI
- Felon in possession of a firearm
- Failure to register as a sex offender as provided
- Witness intimidation
- Abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable person
Assuming that your terms and conditions of your sentence have been completed, five years have passed, and your conviction is eligible for expunction, the Court is not required to grant your request (unless you fall within the first two types of scenarios). The Court has ultimate discretion as to whether to grant your request for expungement or not. The other thing to remember is that you may only have ONE conviction expunged.
As you can see, there are multiple situations where you may be able to have your record expunged. The important thing is that if you think that your record can be cleared, you should contact someone who has experience in handling expungements that will quickly guide you through the process. If you think you may be eligible for an expungement, give our office a call. We have a very clear process assisting those who are eligible for expungements, making for a very smooth and quick outcome. Our goal is ultimately to help you get your life back!