If you have been arrested, you are likely concerned about how it will impact your future. Even if you are not convicted of the charges, the arrest will become part of your criminal history. Having a mark on your criminal record can adversely affect your employment opportunities, your ability to obtain government assistance, your ability to vote and more. Considering all that's at stake, you may have thought about having your record expunged, but you may be unsure exactly what that entails. In 2014, Louisiana modified its expungement laws. The following points will help you determine if you are eligible to have criminal charges removed from your record.
1. No conviction: Regardless of whether you were arrested on misdemeanor or felony charges, if the charges did not result in a conviction, you may have the charges removed.
2. Case dismissed: Likewise, if you were acquitted of the charges or if your case was dismissed, you can have the charges expunged. This is also true if there was a motion to quash. If you were arrested on a felony charge, your record of arrest must not offer any substantial value for any subsequent prosecution.
3. Statute of limitations: If the charges have a time limit associated with prosecuting the offense and the prosecution lets the time run out, you may have your record expunged.
4. Plea agreement and probation: Under Louisiana's Code of Criminal Procedure, you may have your record expunged if your conviction was set aside and the prosecution was dismissed according to the terms and guidelines set under Article 894 (for misdemeanors) or Article 893 (for felonies). This means that you pleaded guilty to the charge with the opportunity to expunge. In order to be able to remove the charges, you will have to fulfill the terms of your probation.
5. 5- or 10-year rule: If five or more years have passed since the completion of your sentence for a misdemeanor, or 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence for a felony, and you have no subsequent charges or convictions on your record, you may be eligible for an expunction. According to the new law changes, you may even be able to expunge two misdemeanor charges at once.
Please keep in mind that if you were convicted of a sex crime, domestic violence or certain drug crimes, you cannot have your record expunged. Also, just because your record was expunged does not mean that it will be destroyed. Your record will be removed from public access, but certain law enforcement agencies may still have access to it.
Having your record expunged can be a tremendous benefit to your future. The process, however, can be confusing and challenging, which is why retaining the services of an attorney experienced in expungement is so important. A lawyer will be able to analyze your case, advise you of your options and represent you during all stages of the process.