Do You Need a Lawyer to Clear Your Criminal Record – 2020 Guide
Having a criminal record can be a huge step back when it comes to making some ordinary life decisions, such as renting a new house, finding a job, or getting different professional licenses. You may wonder why anyone would approve clearing criminal records, but keep on your mind that not every person convicted is a person that is truly guilty. There can be plenty of valid reasons for clearing someone’s criminal record.
There are certain criteria that must be fulfilled in order to completely destroy or, on the other hand, seal your criminal record. While thinking about the whole procedure and its complexity, you may also wonder if you need a lawyer during the whole process or you could do it all by yourself. In that case, here is some information about clearing criminal records that can be helpful.
How can a criminal record be cleared?
First of all, the important thing to know is that there are two main ways for a criminal record to be cleared: trough expungement and nondisclosure. These two terms are often mixed, but the truth is they are completely different processes with different outcomes. Which one exactly can be applied in your case depends on your specific situation and criminal past.
Expungement is a legal process that implies completely destroying or dismissing someone’s arrests and minor convictions from the record. On the other side, nondisclosure means not erasing, but only sealing the record so it’s not public anymore. To be clear, even after going through an expungement process your record is still not destroyed for good. Sometimes the access to it may still be enabled, for example to some kind of government agencies.
When is a record eligible for the expungement process?
First of all, you have to conclude that your record can be considered for the process. How to determine? Procedures do vary from one country to another, but there are a few factors that are pretty constant and can help you understand if you’re the right candidate for this process.
Some of those factors are: have you ever committed a crime, how serious the crime you committed was, how much time has passed since the crime, and also if there were some other crimes you were convicted of in the meanwhile.
When is a record eligible for a nondisclosure?
As we mentioned, nondisclosure is a synonym for sealing the record, which means it is not fully cleared, but it is not available for public eyes anymore. You can make a request for this process in case you meet certain requirements.
For example, if you put on deferred adjudication or you fulfilled one you are on a good way to become a candidate for making a nondisclosure request. Also, you should wait for an appropriate amount of time after fulfilling an adjudication to file a request, as well as make sure you are free of convictions of any other crimes in the meanwhile.
Do I need a lawyer to help me clear my criminal record?
The answer is yes and no. You don’t need him, but it surely can be helpful. To be completely clear, you can do this completely by yourself. After you made the conclusion you have the right to apply for the expungement you can easily use various forms that are available online to make a request for it. But be aware that this process may seem very complicated and you also might feel the need to hire a lawyer to help you with the whole thing.
We could say there are no right or wrong decisions here. It all depends on how familiar you are with these procedures and how secure you feel about taking care of it on your own. In this case, it is good to know there are professionals in the area of criminal record expungement and sealing, such as RecordPurge that can help and guide you through the process.
How can a lawyer help me to clear my criminal record?
In case you are not completely sure about meeting all the criteria for the expungement process and you don’t feel confident enough to do it all by yourself, you can always hire an attorney. He can help you to understand the situation better and apply his professional knowledge, which can be more than helpful.
A lawyer can go through your records and decide what can be your next step as well as file a petition for the procedure that will result in clearing your records. Of course, in this case you’ll have to pay a certain amount of money which to some people can represent a barrier. But as we already said, this is completely your call.
In which cases should I definitely take into consideration hiring a lawyer?
There are a few specific situations when we highly recommend hiring a lawyer, rather than taking care of clearing your criminal records on your own. This means that sometimes it can be too complex to deal with circumstances that may represent a big obstacle to your final goal.
We are talking here about situations that may include the following: you’ve had more than three convictions, you were convicted in various countries or you’re not a citizen of the country. Also, in the case when you don’t meet the criteria for filing a request for expungement or nondisclosure you should start thinking about hiring an attorney who will help you find your way out.
When it comes to clearing your criminal record there is absolutely an option of going through the whole process by yourself. There is plenty of information available online on relevant websites that can help you understand what are your options and apply for the procedure that will lead to clearing or sealing your criminal record. In this case, you may decide you can do it on your own. On the other hand, having a professional next to you can be an easier option. A lawyer can use his skills to make the process easier for you and help you reach your final goal. You don’t need him, but hiring him can sometimes make everything less stressful for you. Basically, there is no right or wrong decision, the choice is on you.