Spring Cleaning — Expunge your Criminal A rrest and Conviction Records in Louisiana

The job market is getting tougher every day. With more and more people competing in the workplace, youthful indiscretions and run-ins with the law can have a great impact and may very well be the difference between you and an otherwise equally (or less) qualified competitor. Filing expungement proceedings may be your answer. An expungement is a legal process whereby a person’s criminal conviction and arrest records may be made non-public. (Certain crimes (such as sex offenses) cannot be expunged. Additionally, certain agencies (such as the Louisiana Board of Nursing) still have access to the records. 

Generally, there are two situations in which a criminal record may be expunged, namely when the arrest does not result in a conviction (such as pre-trial diversion or intervention, dismissal, acquittal, failure to prosecute) or after a certain period of time has elapsed between the completion of the sentence and the filing of the expungement. This period is generally five years for the expungement of misdemeanor convictions and ten years for the expungement of a felony record.

“Processing fees” are now required to be filed with the expungement paperwork. These fees total between $500 and $600, depending on the crime. Some of the fees can be by check, but some must be by money order. Louisiana law provides that the processing fees are non-refundable, so it is vitally important that your expungement paperwork be prepared correctly before it is filed. 

Fingerprinting and background checks are now required under the new law. An expungement cannot be filed without these documents. The background check must be an official check from the State of Louisiana. Your local clerk’s office cannot provide you with a criminal background check that would qualify. It can often take up to a month to obtain this check. 

When the legislature changed the expungement law in 2014, lengthy delays in favor of the State of Louisiana were added. After the filed expungement pleadings are served, each agency, including the State of Louisiana, has sixty days within which to object. If there is an objection from the state based on a technicality or otherwise, then the judge will set the matter for a court hearing to determine whether the objection was legally based and whether the expungement pleadings were properly drafted. If there is no objection, then an order may be presented to the judge. That order is again served on the agencies, who are to then expunge their records. The state usually sends back a certification. It can take several months for the state to get to your expungement and send out the certification. Accordingly, the sooner your expungement is filed and you are in the pipeline, the sooner your expungement can go through. The state handles these orders on a first-come-first-served basis.

Under the new law in Louisiana , expungement of a criminal record has become a very specific, expensive,  and time-consuming process. Much of the judge’s discretion has been taken away. If done incorrectly, the $500 or more in “processing fees” (expungement court costs) may be be wasted. Contact a Louisiana expungement lawyer so that your expungement is done correctly the first time. It often costs  more in legal fees to try to fix an improperly handled expungement than it would have to have hired an expungement attorney to do it right the first time.

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