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Is record expungement a good thing?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Can you relate to others in South Dakota who say they have done or have experienced things in life that they wish could be altogether forgotten? Most people have, at some point, said or done something that they later regretted. If you have encountered legal problems, such as being arrested or charged with a crime, you might be wishing that there was a way to wipe the slate clean.

In fact, there is a legal process which, in effect, does just that. It’s called “record expungement.” This process cannot take place without a court order. If a criminal court judge orders the expungement of your record, it means that any arrests or convictions contained therein will be sealed from public view. In a sense, this is similar to being “legally forgotten.”

A record expungement enables a better quality of life

Even if you have fully served a sentence and a judge releases you from jail, your criminal record may have a way of impeding your quality of life. For instance, if you apply for a job, a prospective employer may be hesitant to hire you after running a background check. However, if the court orders a record expungement, neither your conviction nor your arrest will show up when someone runs a criminal background check on you.

If your record receives expungement, you do not have to reveal the incident for which you served a criminal sentence in situations where you’d otherwise have an obligation to do so, had it not been for the expungement of your record. There are exceptions to the rule, such as if you’re under oath in court, in which case you might have to reveal that the court expunged your record but not specific details about the record itself.

Some people still can see your criminal record

While a record expungement basically “erases” your criminal history from public view, there are several entities who may still gain access to it. Such entities include certain government agencies, as well as law enforcement or criminal court officials. This means that, if police were to arrest you and charge you with a crime in the future, the criminal court judge may review your expunged record, and it may have an impact on the ultimate outcome of your case.

State laws vary regarding record expungements

It’s important to seek clarification regarding the laws of your specific state of residence regarding record expungement. State laws vary. For instance, in some states, the court may destroy the hard copy files containing your criminal record. In other states, the court may not allow the public to view such files.

It’s helpful to speak with someone who is knowledgeable about the South Dakota criminal justice system if you have questions or concerns regarding record expungements.