Who Is Eligible To Have An Expungement?
An expungement is available to almost anyone. However, it’s a little tricky in the federal system. If someone is charged with a federal crime, there’s really not an expungement process for that. As an example, I live near an air force base that does a lot of maintenance on different aircraft, and there are tons of civilian jobs there working for the Department of Defense. However, you can’t work there if you have a federal offense, which doesn’t have to be a serious crime.
There is one example I’m thinking of involving a guy who was hunting an elk that he shot and tracked onto an Indian reservation. He didn’t know he was on a reservation until he put the elk out of its misery and the Indian reservation police and wardens arrested him for poaching on Indian land, which is a federal offense. He went to the federal district court: he didn’t do any kind of jail time but just paid the fine and went on probation. But that federal conviction will be with him, unless he gets a presidential pardon.
We also have a lot of sportsmen out here in Utah; they’ll go out shooting on the weekend, and then they’ll go to work on the base. A couple of times, I’ve seen guys that have left their weapons in their vehicles when they’ve gone to work Monday morning, and they’ll randomly get stopped by security forces going on the base and are charged with taking a firearm into an airport, which is a federal offense. That stays with you because you can’t get it expunged. So if it’s a federal offense, it’s almost impossible to get it expunged; but if it’s a state offense that occurs in the Utah courts and the person has successfully completed their probation or their term, a felony can be expunged in seven years and a misdemeanor in three.
Most state offenders would qualify for an expungement, unless there are certain statutory things that will prevent them, such as if they had an expungement 10 years ago and they get into more trouble.
Can DUIs Be Expunged In Utah?
Yes. A DUI can be expunged in Utah, but it’s a 10-year waiting period. If you have a first-offense DUI and are convicted of it or even plead it down to an impaired driving, then the court will usually put you on probation for 12 to 18 months to make sure you pay the fines and take your classes; then once your case is closed, the clock starts ticking, and you have to wait 10 years to get your DUI or impaired driving expunged in Utah.
However, a felony-level DUI cannot be expunged. So if you are convicted of felony DUI through either priors or causing serious bodily injury to another and are convicted of that felony, it’s a lifetime enhancement. So it can never be expunged, and every DUI that you get after that first felony DUI remains a felony.
What Happens After A Case Is Successfully Expunged?
A case is successfully expunged when the judge signs the order; then I take that order and get six or seven court-certified copies and mail a copy of that order to the sheriff’s office or the highway patrol, the prosecuting attorney’s office, the Bureau of Criminal Identification, all the government agencies that were involved in the original charge and prosecution. Then I always have my client request a record check from the Bureau of Criminal Identification, a couple of months after the orders are sent, to make sure that everything is clear and that the conviction has been taken off their record and does not exist anymore.
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