The collateral consequences of being convicted of a felony are many and often harsh. People convicted of felonies have a harder time obtaining employment and are often excluded from educational opportunities. Let it be understood that being convicted of a felony presents a lot of hurdles.
Fortunately, we may change your status from a felon to a non-felon by filing a motion asking the court to reduce the degree of the offense by one or two degrees. That is, a third-degree felony conviction can be changed to reflect a class A misdemeanor and sometimes even a class B misdemeanor. Another course of action is to file a petition to have your record expunged. This may be a better option for people whose felony convictions occurred a number of years ago because a certain amount of time must have passed for you to be eligible.
People with felony convictions should not be held back for the rest of their lives. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you get your felony convictions off your record. For a free case review, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.
Utah Criminal Code Allowances
Under Utah Code Section § 76-3-402(2), if you were put on probation and successfully completed that probation, you may qualify for a reduction of the conviction by one and sometimes even two degrees. That’s an extremely important change in your status as you seek employment or other opportunities.
If a client wants to enter into a plea agreement with the state to resolve their case, I often make it a condition of the plea agreement that the prosecutor will stipulate to a reduction upon successful completion of probation. This makes the process of obtaining a reduction months or years later much easier because the state has essentially waived the right to object on any grounds if the defendant completed probation successfully.
If you have been convicted of a felony and think you may qualify for a reduction of your conviction, call our office and set up an appointment to discuss whether your situation qualifies you to remove “felon” from your status. As a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer with over 14 years of trial experience, I can get that status turned around so you can be on the same ground as those you’re competing with for employment.
Expunging a Felony Conviction from Your Utah Criminal Record
Another way you can take care of an old felony conviction is to file a petition for an expungement. An expungement essentially erases convictions from your official criminal record. Any records pertaining to your conviction, including details about your arrest, are sealed. If anyone inquires about your criminal record – like an employer doing a background check – your felony convictions will be treated as though they never existed.
Our Utah criminal defense attorney can help you file a petition to expunge a felony from your record, but not all defendants are eligible. Certain felonies might be excluded from the expungement, and you should discuss your case with an attorney to determine if an expungement is right for you.
Eligibility for Expungements
Some felonies can be expunged, but others cannot. Your case must meet specific eligibility requirements for your felony to be expunged. The following offenses are ineligible for expungement in Utah:
- Capital Felonies
- First-Degree Felonies
- Violent Felonies (as defined under Utah Code 76-3-203.5(1)(c)(i))
- Felony Automobile Homicide
- Felony DUIs
- Registerable Sex Offenses
- Registerable Child Abuse Offenses
As you can see, there are quite a few felony offenses that cannot be expunged under any circumstances. However, that does not mean our fight is over. If we can get your conviction reduced using the method previously discussed here, we may then be able to expunge the conviction.
If your felony is eligible for an expungement, there may be additional criteria to meet before your petition can be approved. Your sentence must be complete for all convictions, and all fines, fees, and any restitution must be fully paid. For felonies related to drug offenses, at least 10 years must have passed since the end of your sentence. For all other eligible felonies, at least 7 years must have passed.
It is also important to note that you cannot expunge your record if you have other cases pending. For example, if you face new criminal charges, you cannot expunge old convictions until your current case is complete. You are also ineligible for expungement if you are on probation or parole. You must wait until your probation or parole term is over.
Process of Getting a Felony Expunged
To get your felony conviction expunged, you must follow the proper channels and procedures. The process can be complicated and time-consuming, and our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you through and avoid making mistakes.
First, you have to acquire a certificate of eligibility. This certificate must come from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification. Getting the certificate is a separate application process and requires submitting your criminal record and a $65.00 fee. It may take several months for the Bureau to make a decision and issue a certificate.
Once you have your certificate of eligibility, your second step is to file your petition for expungement and the certificate with the court and prosecutor. Once filed, the third step is to attend a hearing on the matter. In some cases, prosecutors do not raise much of a fuss. In other cases, particularly in felony cases, prosecutors might resist the expungement. Our Utah expungement attorneys can help you argue for your petition to be approved.
If your petition is approved, your final step is to deliver the expungement forms to the appropriate government agencies that hold your criminal records. This is crucial because if you fail to deliver the expungement to an agency, that agency will not seal your records.
What Happens After Your Felony is Expunged?
After your felony conviction is expunged from your record, the conviction is treated as though it never occurred. If anyone asks about your criminal history, they will be informed that there is no record of the felony. They will not be told about the expungement or that there ever was a felony on your record. Our Utah expungement attorneys can make sure all the appropriate government agencies are served with your expungement paperwork so all records are properly sealed.
Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of an expungement is that you do not have to disclose the expungement to anyone. For example, you are required to make disclosures about your record for certain jobs. If you have had an expungement, you do not have to disclose the expungement. You do not have to say that your record is clear but you previously had a felony conviction. You can simply say you have a clean record. You are not required to inform anyone about your felony once it is expunged.
Getting a Pardon for a Felony Conviction in Utah
If an expungement is impossible, our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you get a pardon. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole is the only agency with authority to pardon your felony conviction. If you are eligible for an expungement, you are required to seek one before seeking a pardon. If an expungement is denied or otherwise impossible, you apply for a pardon.
Once you submit your pardon application, the Board may or may not schedule a hearing. In some cases, the Board will reject an application without even having a hearing. If a hearing is scheduled, it is not guaranteed that the Board will approve the application.
The criteria for a pardon are similar to those for an expungement. Your sentence must be complete, and all fines, fees, and restitution fully paid. Also, a number of years must have passed since the end of your sentence. The Board requires at least 5 years have passed since the termination of expiration of all sentencing requirements.
The Board is typically looking for years of exemplary citizenship and good behavior before approving anything. Our Provo criminal defense attorneys can help you present evidence of your rehabilitation and status as an upstanding member of your community.
Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help Removing Your Felony Conviction
If you have a felony conviction holding you back from your full potential, our West Jordan criminal defense lawyers can help you remove it from your record. For a free case review and to determine which removal method is best for you, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.