Criminal records are something a majority of employers are sure to look at when they conduct background checks. In most cases, serious criminal convictions on your record can make it difficult to be eligible for certain opportunities and will stay on your record for life.
However, there are scenarios in which you might be able to get parts of your criminal record sealed and kept off of your background check. Our article gives you more insight into this and advice on removing criminal records from a background check.
Do Criminal Records Ever Expire on a Background Check?
Each state has varying disclosure laws regarding background information, criminal record disclosure, and how far back your personal history report goes. In most states, records go back to approximately seven years, but this could be less or more, depending on your state.
Criminal convictions, felonies, and other aspects of your criminal records are typically viewable forever. These records also aren’t usually considered non-disclosable after a certain number of years, like other items on your report (like your address and workplace history).
The main exception to this rule is juvenile criminal records that appear on your background check. Most states will seal and remove juvenile criminal records from records once the individual turns 19 years old and as long as the last hearing for the criminal conviction occurred at least five years ago.
Again, different states have differing laws on this, so check with your specific jurisdiction’s rules regarding sealing juvenile records.
Removing Your Criminal Record From a Background Check
If you suspect or know that you have criminal records that will appear on your background check, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to remove these items. After all, criminal records can make it difficult for you to obtain employment or qualify for certain types of jobs.
It’s not the easiest process, but removing your criminal record, or parts of your criminal record, from your background check report is possible. We list factors that can affect this below and give you a basic overview of the expungement process.
Also, if you aren’t sure whether or not a criminal record is on your background check report, you can use this convenient criminal records check tool. Simply input your name and location in the search bar, and the search will return any public information about your criminal records.
This process helps you know exactly what is in your background check and what potential employers might see when they pull your report.
Factors That Determine Eligibility for Removal
A few different factors can determine your eligibility for criminal record removal, also known as expungement. States will have different laws on what qualifies your record for expungement, but most states will only allow minor crimes or misdemeanors to be expunged. Violent crimes, DUIs, sexual offense convictions, and felonies are generally not eligible to be removed from any individual’s public record in any state.
Other factors in determining if your record is eligible for expungement include the years since the criminal conviction was received, whether or not other crimes have since been committed, and state-specific first-time offender programs.
You can utilize this state-specific tool to get started figuring out what your state allows in terms of expungement or sealing any part of a criminal record. Additionally, if you believe you are a good candidate for expungement, you may want to reach out to a legal professional specializing in criminal records and expungement for a consultation; this will give you advice and next steps that are reliable and specific to your situation.
The Expungement Process
Every individual state has a process in place for expungement, which often includes applications and court appearances. In most states, you will need to file an application or petition for expungement. You will also need certification that the sentencing and conviction guidelines relating to the crime have been complied with.
This application will be filed with your jurisdiction’s court, and you will most likely be required to appear in front of a judge to speak about your criminal conviction and why you are seeking expungement. Therefore, gathering information about your conviction, including the date, location, and when the sentencing and conviction guidelines were completed, is beneficial.
From there, the judge will decide whether or not to expunge your entire criminal record or just a part of it. In some cases, a judge may rule for expungement, and it could be contested, something that typically triggers a hearing and extends how long you will need to be in court.
Investing in an attorney specializing in criminal defense and record expungement to ensure you complete each step of the process and have the most success is usually wise.
Managing Your Public Records
Possessing a criminal record can make finding employment or becoming eligible for certain opportunities difficult, and the unfortunate truth is that most criminal convictions can stay with you for life. However, certain scenarios make expungement or sealing your criminal record possible, which ensures employers and other individuals aren’t able to see any previous criminal convictions on your record.
If you believe that your criminal record might be eligible for expungement, take time to review the laws and application process in your state and reach out to legal counsel for further guidance.