What is Expungement and How Can It Help Your Job Search?
Having a colorful criminal history is generally not something that people are proud of, yet over one in four U.S. adults has a criminal record. Virtually impossible to hide, a record of unlawful behavior can have the effect of making it harder for individuals with checkered pasts to do things that others take for granted, such as rent an apartment, borrow money from a bank, or find a job. Earning money is a basic cornerstone for being independent, but most potential employers balk when they see an applicant has a criminal record. They don’t care what offense was charged or whether it was dismissed. They have tunnel vision on the mere fact of its existence.
There are many situations where it’s simply unfair that criminal charges act to prevent an individual from moving on from past transgressions and procuring employment, keeping a current job, or advancing on a career path. Employers are not prohibited from asking about arrests or convictions, and requiring criminal background checks for various types of positions is currently widespread, with as many as 92 percent of employers performing them on some or all candidates. While some states have passed laws restricting how employers may use an applicant’s criminal record in making job decisions, Louisiana has no such laws. However, federal law does not allow employers to use criminality as the reason not to hire someone.
An effective way of addressing the issue is to seek expungement, which is the legal process of sealing criminal records, essentially rendering them confidential (they remain available for use by certain state agencies). Most courts are receptive to granting an expungement, especially if the petitioner has lived a few years without any further run-ins with the law. When a record is expunged, it is as if the offense never occurred, and you no longer have to admit to the arrest or charge when asked.
All misdemeanor convictions and certain felony convictions can be expunged. Convictions involving domestic violence or sexual acts, among others, are not eligible. Only one misdemeanor offense can be expunged during a five-year period, and DUI convictions can be expunged only once every 10 years. While not guaranteed, most expungements are granted if:
- There are no other convictions during the intervening period;
- The minimum period between conviction and petition is met;
- There are no other pending cases against the petitioner;
- Probation is completed, community service is completed, and all fines have been paid;
- The petition contains the proper supporting documentation and was correctly filed.
Even a low-level misdemeanor conviction on your record can stand in your way of getting a job. Expungement means that you can legally say “no” to an employer’s question about whether or not you’ve ever been arrested or convicted of any crimes. It can change your life, but it’s not done automatically. You have to apply for one, follow state procedural laws, and pay a fee.
If you are wondering whether you are eligible for a misdemeanor or felony expungement, contact experienced Louisiana expungement attorney Chris Roy Jr, founder of the Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm. Having practiced law for nearly 30 years, he takes pride in helping job seekers with criminal records in Alexandria, Pineville, Rapides Parish, Grant Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Allen Parish, Vernon Parish, and throughout Central Louisiana. Benefit from his assistance and knowledge by contacting the firm for a free initial consultation. Call 1-318-487-9537 to get help today.