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 on your marketability. Arrests and convictions, although minor, may very well be the difference between you and an otherwise equally (or less) qualified competitor getting the job. Filing to have your arrest and conviction record 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 proceedings. The period is generally five years for misdemeanor convictions and ten years for felonies.
“Processing fees” are now required to be filed with the initial paperwork. These fees total between $500 and $600, depending on the crime. Louisiana law provides that the processing fees are non-refundable, so it is vitally important that your legal paperwork be prepared correctly before it is filed.
Fingerprinting and background checks are also required under the new law. These documents are also required before you can file to have records expunged. 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.
The legislature added lengthy delays in favor of the State of Louisiana when it changed the law in 2014. 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 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 make their records nonpublic. It can take several months for the state to get to your paperwork and certify that it expunged your records. Accordingly, the sooner you file and get in the pipeline, the sooner your expungement can go through. The state handles these expungement 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” (court costs) may be be wasted. Contact a Louisiana expungement lawyer so that your matter is handled correctly the first time. It often costs more in legal fees to try to fix an improperly handled matter than it would have to have hired an attorney to do it right the first time.
Ruston, Louisiana expungement lawyer Add Goff has over 25 years in experience handling expungements of arrest and conviction records.