If you’ve been convicted of a crime you are likely familiar with the difficulties that stem from having a criminal record. You may have problems getting a job because most employers do a background check as part of the hiring process. Your record may also cause problems in other areas of your life as well. Those with a criminal conviction may wonder if there is a way to seal your records or have them removed. Generally speaking, there are two possible ways to keep your record out of the eyes of the public – it can be sealed or expunged.

Sealing or Expungement

Keeping your criminal record private can be a difficult task. It is important to understand the difference between sealing a record and expunging it. A sealed record is one that is private but available to authorities. An expungement means that the record of your conviction is removed and is usually available only in specific circumstances such as for certain types of crimes committed as a juvenile. Therefore, you will want to seek to seal your record. While this can be accomplished on your own, it’s much easier to handle this type of situation with the help of an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will begin by reviewing your record to determine the best way to proceed.

Getting Your Record Sealed

In order to get your record sealed you’ll need to have your case reviewed by the court. This is done through a petition. A hearing will be held to determine the reasons why you feel your record should be sealed. Just requesting your record to be sealed doesn’t mean that it will be. You and your attorney will need to present compelling reasons why this should be done. In some cases, you may have been convicted of the crime many years ago or you may be having difficulties finding a job. Whatever the circumstances, your lawyer will know the best way to present the information in order to have the best chance of having the judge make a decision to seal your record.

What a Sealed Record Means

A sealed record is helpful but it won’t remove your criminal record completely. Law enforcement will be able to view the details of your record if they need to. Also, it is important to know that some government employers will have limited access to your record, even if it is sealed. Remember that a sealed record doesn’t erase the crime – if asked if you were convicted of a crime you must answer truthfully. The public typically won’t have access to your record if it’s sealed, which can provide some peace of mind that your personal life can get back to normal after your conviction. It is best to discuss the options available to you with your attorney.