How Does Someone Go Through The Expungement Process?
In Utah, the government agency that keeps track of all the criminal records is the Bureau of Criminal Identification, and to request your background check, the first thing you would do is print out the forms that you need right off their website, or you can go down there and fill them out in person. Often, you will need to provide your fingerprints, so you’ll need to request a fingerprint card and send that in; then once you pay the fee, they’ll tell you what your criminal background is and everything that’s on there. In the background report, they’ll tell you whether or not your conviction would qualify for expungement. This request can take over 90 days to process.
Once we get that back, we can see which items on your record qualify for an expungement; then we can send in another form with payment for a certificate of eligibility for each qualifying offense, which costs between $30 to $60 for each certificate. Once the form is processed, which takes another 60 days, you’ll get the certificate back; then you’ll have to go in and file a petition for expungement for each case in the pertinent court. So if you have three different cases in different courts, you have to file a petition for expungement in each location, along with pay the filing fee, serve notice to the prosecutor and wait the required time limits.
It usually takes about 20 to 30 days to determine if the prosecutor will object to the expungement or not; if the prosecutor objects, then we’ll schedule a hearing to go in there and say why it’s in the interest of justice to have this petition for expungement granted and wipe your record clean. That process, depending on the court scheduling and how quickly you get the certificates of eligibility, can take four to eight months; if the court grants the order of expungement, then you send it to the various law enforcement agencies that have dealt with the case: the sheriff’s office, the prosecutor’s office, the Bureau of Criminal Identification and the FBI. They, in turn, destroy their records based on that order.
There’s a lot of time and paperwork involved, as well as filing fees and the fees for each certificate of eligibility, but most expungements can be done for around $1,000 to $1,500 within four to eight months.
Does Someone Ever Have To Disclose Their Criminal Record After It Has Been Expunged?
Yes. Although the law says that you should not have to answer those questions in the affirmative once your petition and your expungement have been granted, there are certain entities that you are required to offer full disclosure to. For example, when I was a young man in the military, I received a DUI. I made a poor choice, so I had it expunged after waiting the 10-year period and consulting with an attorney.
Then when I was applying for law school, the institution wanted to know if I had ever had any convictions, and I specifically remember the language: “Even if they have been expunged.” So although the law in Utah says that I don’t have to answer in the affirmative because I’ve had an expungement, this particular law school in Michigan wanted to know if I’d ever had any convictions, even if they were expunged.
Of course, I answered in the affirmative: I had to be 100% truthful, and I still had to explain the situation, but I don’t think that happens very often with most job situations, unless it’s the federal government and you’re getting a security clearance. I’ve even seen judicial applications that ask if the applicant has ever had any convictions, even if expunged, with the date of the conviction, the offense and the disposition. There are only a few times that I’ve seen it, but it can happen.
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