Having a criminal record can impact numerous aspects of your life, potentially affecting everything from where you can live to who will hire you. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your conviction and criminal history, you may be able to take certain steps to minimize the hardship your criminal record causes you.
Sealing your records, for example, essentially shields them from public record, meaning members of the public will not be able to reference them. Dismissing your record, meanwhile, involves reopening your case and having it dismissed, which, by most accounts, makes it appear as if your crime never occurred.
Sealing your records
You and your situation must meet certain criteria in order to have your records sealed. You may be able to do so following an acquittal at a jury trial, or if you received a conviction for an offense, but a jury or judge later overturned the conviction. You may also be able to do so if no one ever filed formal criminal charges against you, or if charges were filed, but they were later dismissed. Certain offenses are not eligible for record sealing, however, among them child abuse and domestic-violence related convictions.
Dismissing your records
Depending on specific circumstances, you may be able to put in a request to have your criminal conviction dismissed. If you were on probation after your conviction but you successfully completed its terms, you can typically request and receive a dismissal. However, to be eligible, you must not be facing any other criminal charges. If you were never on probation, you may request a dismissal if at least a year has passed since your conviction, and that conviction was either a misdemeanor or an infraction. In the time since, you must have remained in full compliance with any terms the court placed upon you, among related conditions.
Sealing your record or dismissing a conviction can be an important step in rebuilding your life and getting back on your feet.