How Is An Expungement Defined In Utah?
An expungement is a legal process of destroying a criminal record by using the powers of the court so that it can no longer be found and used by different agencies.
How Does An Expungement Differ From Having A Record Sealed?
There is a difference between an expungement and a sealed record. An example of a sealed record would be in juvenile court, where the record is still on file but can only be looked at by a court order. Basically, if a record is sealed, it still exists: it’s still on someone’s file, in someone’s computer and can be accessed by a government agency, an attorney or an employer if a judge grants the request. However, in an expungement, the record doesn’t exist anymore: it’s gone.
There’s no law that says that the government agency is supposed to maintain the information once an expungement is ordered.
What Are The Obvious Advantages Of Having A Record Expunged?
The biggest advantage is when it comes to employment. Nowadays with computers and the ability of employers to use background screening agencies to see what kind of criminal history exists for individuals, an expungement is a huge advantage when it comes to employment.
Education is also when an expungement can make a difference: I’ve had people come to me for expungements who are trying to get into a college, graduate school or master’s program. I’ve had a lot of people that were entering medical school and made some mistakes in college; maybe they had some marijuana or a minor possession charge and were really worried about that affecting their future and their ability to get into a competitive school.
So the biggest benefit is just not having something on your background that you have to explain. You may still get the job interview or the interview with the graduate school; but if there’s something there and you have to explain it, along with the outcome and the fines you paid, it can be a little embarrassing. If this same individual didn’t have a criminal history and his application is laying side-by-side up against the person with a record, you can predict which one is going to get picked, unless there are some outstanding things that weigh in the balance.
An expungement puts you back on the competitive edge with everyone else when you’re going through these different areas of your life, whether it be education or employment. I’ve seen it come into play with adoption. For example, couple gets married, and the husband wants to adopt his wife’s children; in order to do this, he has to pass a background check, and that information is reviewed by a judge. If there’s some history there, that could prevent the adoption. An expungement puts you back in the competition and takes your past off the radar of public scrutiny.
Do Expungements Apply To Convictions As Well As Arrests In Utah?
Yes to both. So if you, for example, were arrested for a first-time DUI, you now have an OTN number, an Offender Tracking Number. So if an employer pulled your criminal background, they would see an arrest for DUI; and although it may show a dismissal, that still could be troubling for an employer. With an expungement, you can go and have that arrest taken off your record.
Now if you are convicted of a felony DUI and do your probation successfully in Utah, there is a provision in the law that allows you to reduce that down one degree to a misdemeanor. Indeed, it’s preferable to face an employer with a misdemeanor than a felony DUI. This is called a 402 reduction, and I often help my clients with this because they’ll say, “Well, I can get this job, but I have a felony.” We’ll look at it and say, “Well, we can try and get that felony reduced down to a misdemeanor.” And if we can get the court to approve, then my client can typically get the job and move on with their life.
For more information on Expungements In Utah, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 477-5009 today.