How Long Does It Take To Get A Criminal Record Expunged?
Interviewer: How long does one have to wait before they can get something expunged?
Matthew Nebeker: Usually, each criminal conviction has a waiting period requirement. They basically categorize it based on the level of charge it is, like it could be a C misdemeanor, B misdemeanor, an A misdemeanor, or a felony. We look at the end result of what the conviction was. For example, most DUIs are class B misdemeanors, unless there are some aggravating factors or multiple DUIs. First offense and second offense DUIs are mostly class B misdemeanors.
The statute says that those individuals have to wait 10 years from the termination of the court probation. For example, on a class B misdemeanor DUI, the courts will typically put the individual on probation for 12 to 18 months. If they successfully complete that probation in 12 or 18 months then, then at that time, the 10-year clock starts ticking for them to be able to file their petition to expunge.
Interviewer: Is that 10-year wait only with DUIs or is that with all crimes?
Matthew Nebeker: No. The 10-year period is pretty much exclusive to DUI and alcohol or drug related driving offenses. If the individual were, for instance, convicted of possession of marijuana, which is a class B misdemeanor, they would only have to wait three years to be able to file their expungement. If someone were convicted of a class A misdemeanor for some kind of possession or maybe an assault charge, then that person would have to wait five years from the termination of probation. Drug related felonies are usually third degree felonies. That person would have to wait seven years. You just have to kind of see what the end conviction was, go to the statute, and look at the timeframes involved to see if the person qualifies.
Some convictions cannot be expunged. Certain domestic violence related convictions, certain sexual offenses and convictions, and child abuse related convictions cannot be expunged. That’s why the person who’s looking to have this done would want to consult an attorney, sit down with them, go over their record, and see if they even qualify.
Felony v. Misdemeanor Expungement
Interviewer: As far as a DUI felony, that will not be able to be expunged, is that correct?
Matthew Nebeker: Yes. In Utah, there is no expungement for felony level DUI. Most felony level DUIs is the result of two prior convictions within a 10-year period, or they seriously injure or hurt someone while they were under the influence of alcohol. They cannot get those expunged through the expungement process and the expungement laws that we have here in Utah. However, the person can seek out a motion to reduce the felony to reduce it down one degree.
In a case of a third-degree felony, they could file a motion, if they didn’t go to prison and if they successfully completed probation and terminated it successfully, and then the law provides for a one step reduction. That could get it reduced down to a class A misdemeanor. Still, having a class A misdemeanor, in my opinion, on your record is better than having a third degree felony on your record. It’s a good reason for the individual that’s seeking to do this to consult with an attorney because the expungement might not have been a great avenue, but they can still get it reduced down to a misdemeanor, which will help a lot of people.
Interviewer: If someone asks if they can get a reduction on a misdemeanor, at that point, will that misdemeanor be able to get expunged?
Matthew Nebeker: No. The law does not provide for that.