“Expungement” is the process of clearing a crime off your record. This is available in many situations, especially after enough time has passed that your criminal record does not reflect who you are today.
Numerous convictions may be expunged from all tiers of criminal charges. Anything from infractions up to felonies may be ripe for expungement. However, certain convictions are ineligible for expungement regardless of your circumstances. These are typically serious violent felonies, like murder or aggravated assault. To be eligible, you must meet specific criteria. You should have no currently pending criminal cases, and all prior sentencing requirements must be complete. If you were never convicted of your criminal charges, we can help you expunge arrest and other records related to your case. If an expungement is not an option, we can help you file a motion to reduce your conviction or apply for a pardon.
Expungement is a perfect opportunity for people with mistakes in their past to move forward. However, not all crimes can be expunged. The Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC can help you determine if you are eligible. For a free case review, call (801) 758-2287.
What Convictions Are Eligible for Expungement in Salt Lake City?
Having a criminal record can make it harder to get a job, a loan, or other things that people without a record take for granted. Some believe that this is the price to pay for committing a crime, but often low-level crimes and mistakes made in your youth can really hurt your future. Because of this, expungements are available to clear your public criminal record and help you move on with your life. However, the rules are different for different offenses, and some offenses are not eligible for expungement at all.
Crimes in Utah are broken down into “felonies” and “misdemeanors,” with felonies carrying the potential of more than a year in prison and misdemeanors usually carrying up to a year as the maximum penalty. Misdemeanors have 3 classes, called class A, class B, and class C, which have varying penalties and fines.
Below these crimes are simple “infractions” for low-level offenses. These are like traffic tickets, but for non-traffic offenses.
You can expunge most offenses from any of these levels, but you must wait longer for more serious offenses. Before you’re eligible for expungement, you must wait…
- 7 years for a felony,
- 5 years for a class A misdemeanor,
- 4 years for a class B misdemeanor, or
- 3 years for any other misdemeanor or infraction.
There are also special rules for a few offenses:
- Any felony drug possession felony has a reduced waiting period of 5 years.
- Drug and alcohol DUI convictions have a waiting period of 10 years.
If you are eligible for an expungement, our Utah expungement attorneys can help you begin filing the paperwork to get your case started.
Convictions That Cannot Be Expunged in Utah
The waiting period to become eligible for expungement may be long for many of these crimes, but it is still possible to expunge even some of the highest-level crimes. However, certain crimes are so serious that the government does not allow them to be expunged. These include the following offenses:
- Automobile homicide
- Felony DUI
- Sex offenses that can lead to offender registration
- Child abuse that can lead to offender registration
Besides these crimes, you should be able to expunge many other offenses if you wait the required period and meet all other requirements. However, even if your convictions are not barred from expungement, the length of your criminal record might make you ineligible.
In Utah, having too many convictions on your record means you are no longer eligible for an expungement. Utah breaks this down by the seriousness of the offense. Having 2 or more felony convictions makes you ineligible for expungement, but so do any 4 convictions if 3 of them are as high as class B misdemeanors. If you have 5 or more convictions, you will not qualify for expungement no matter what level of crime they were. This requirement cannot be met later since these crimes will not leave your record and make you eligible at a later date.
If you were convicted of any of the following, you cannot get an expungement:
- 2 or more felonies other than drug possession,
- 2 or more crimes other than drug possession, with at least 2 of those crimes being Class A misdemeanors,
- 4 or more crimes other than drug possession, with at least 3 of those crimes being Class B misdemeanors,
- 5 or more crimes of any degree other than drug possession,
- 3 or more felonies for drug possession, or
- 5 or more crimes of any degree for drug possession.
People with longer criminal histories of more than 2 convictions may need help determining if they are eligible for an expungement. Our Utah expungement lawyers can help you figure out if your record meets the criteria for an expungement.
Can I Get an Expungement in Utah if I Was Not Convicted?
When a person enters the criminal justice system, records are made of every hearing and proceeding. These records go all the way back to a person’s initial arrest. The problem many people face is dealing with criminal records even though they were never convicted. If you were arrested but charges were dismissed or never filed, you can have the arrest expunged after 30 days in many cases, regardless of the crime you were charged with.
In many cases, defendants are arrested but never charged. In other cases, they are arrested and charged, but their charges are dropped or dismissed. Still, others are arrested, charged, and put through an entire trial before a jury acquits them. The records leading up to your case’s completion still exist and may get you in trouble.
These records, just like convictions, can be expunged. As mentioned before, you can ask to expunge these records 30 days after an arrest if the prosecutor has decided not to press charges. If the charges were dismissed with prejudice, you can ask for an expungement after 30 days. If you entered a plea in abeyance, our Utah expungement attorneys can help you check that the charges were dismissed.
If your case was dismissed without prejudice, the prosecutor must consent to the expungement. If they do not consent, you must wait 180 days instead of only 30. If you were acquitted, you can ask for an expungement 30 days after your arrest. Since most acquittals happen several weeks or even months after an arrest, our lawyers can begin working on your expungement immediately after your acquittal.
Expungement Eligibility in Salt Lake City
Aside from waiting the required period and selecting a qualifying crime, there are other conditions you must meet to be eligible for expungement. If you do not meet the requirements, you cannot get your record expunged. Some requirements can be met at a later date, allowing later expungement, but other eligibility requirements can never be met once you fail to qualify.
You cannot qualify for expungement if you still have another case pending against you or if you have not finished paying fines and serving time for the offense you seek to expunge. These conditions can be met later if you wait until your pending case is over or finish paying all fines and penalties associated with your offense. The waiting period is often enough time to allow you to finish any fines or requirements to qualify for expungement. Our Utah expungement attorneys can help you avoid conviction on any pending cases so you remain eligible for an expungement later.
When looking at your criminal record to see whether you qualify for expungement, crimes that you have previously had expunged still count. Expungement does not destroy your criminal record in Utah. Instead, expungement merely “seals” your record to keep it from the public.
Utah police, courts, prosecutors, and others may still be able to access your record, especially if it is relevant to sentencing or investigation for other crimes. This means there is still a record of those convictions that can be used to prevent expungement for career criminals. However, employers, loan advisors, and others should not be able to access your records once they are sealed.
Why Should I Get an Expungement in Utah?
Having a conviction or even just an arrest on your record might cause you problems in the future. This information often comes up in background checks when a person is applying for jobs, housing, or educational opportunities. Even convictions from many years ago could be problematic today.
When interviewing for a job, the employer might run a background check to screen employees. In some fields, having a conviction makes you ineligible to work. For example, people who work with children or in high-security positions are typically not allowed to have any criminal convictions on their records. If the conviction is expunged, it will not show up in a background check, and you are not required to disclose it to the employer. Our Utah expungement attorneys can help you avoid these pitfalls by beginning the expungement process.
A conviction on your record might also interfere with other opportunities. Landlords may use background checks to screen potential tenants. You could potentially be turned away from renting an apartment because of an old conviction. Similarly, universities and other higher education institutions may turn away potential students with convictions on their records.
You are doing more than just clearing away an embarrassing criminal history by expunging your record. You are paving the way for new opportunities.
Alternatives to Expungements in Utah
If an expungement is not possible in your case, our Utah expungement lawyers can help you look into other legal options. We might be able to ask the courts to reduce your convictions. If you cannot get an expungement because your conviction is an excluded felony, having it reduced might make you eligible for an expungement. Alternatively, we can try to have your offense pardoned.
Motion to Reduce
A motion to reduce, also known as a 402 motion, is when we ask the court to reduce your criminal conviction to a lesser degree. Much like expungements, you must meet certain criteria. Typically, a motion to reduce may lower the degree of a convicted offense by 1 to 2 degrees.
To reduce your conviction by 1 degree, you must complete any probation or parole terms, pay all fines and restitution, and the court must determine that reducing your conviction is in the interest of justice. If you were required to register as a sex offender, your registration period must have expired. To reduce a conviction by 2 degrees, the prosecutor must agree that the reduction is in the best interest of justice and that you have met all necessary criteria for reduction.
A motion to reduce may be the first step on your way to an expungement. If a conviction is too severe to be reduced, reducing it might make you eligible for expungement. Similarly, having too many felony convictions would bar you from expungement, but you might get an expungement if one can be reduced.
A pardon may be granted by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. The Board may only pardon convictions, not arrests or other records. Much like expungements, getting a pardon requires that a certain amount of time has passed since completing your sentence. The Board requires at least 5 years have passed, but the more years of good behavior you have, the better.
Once a conviction has been pardoned, it can be expunged no matter how severe. As such, getting a pardon is not easy. Typically, the Board will check to see if you have applied for expungements in the past. If you have never applied for an expungement, the Board will reject your request for a pardon and tell you to try an expungement first. If your pardon is granted, our Park City criminal defense attorneys can begin working on expunging the conviction and sealing your records.
Expungement Lawyer Offering Free Consultations in Salt Lake City
If you were convicted of a crime, talk to an attorney about getting your criminal record expunged. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers offer free case reviews and can help with fighting charges and filing for expungement to keep your record clean. Call Overson Law, PLLC today at (801) 758-2287.