If you’ve gotten a misdemeanor, you’re likely wanting to get it taken off your record. It can be unsettling to know that you have any criminal activity on your record, even if it was for a minor offense. It can also cause restrictions when you apply for jobs or look for a home.
Let’s look into misdemeanors and then find out if they can be removed from a record.
What Is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a minor criminal offense. These aren’t as bad as felonies, but they are worse than infractions.
What Types of Criminal Offenses Are Misdemeanors?
Whether or not something is considered a misdemeanor is dependent on the jurisdiction. Here are a few examples of misdemeanors, according to The Draper Law Firm, a firm of criminal lawyers in Detroit, Michigan:
- Petty theft
- Traffic violations
- Drunk driving (without causing harm to others)
- Simple assault and battery
The way that these offenses are charged can vary depending on the jurisdiction or the legal authority in your area.
What Are the Consequences of a Misdemeanor?
When you get caught doing one of the minor offenses listed above, you are then taken to your local court. Here, you are tried for the crime. This can result in a number of different consequences. These consequences include:
- Incarceration (within the county)
Note that you will also be expected to pay court fees. Additionally, you might have to pay a fine and be incarcerated, rather than just one or the other.
The misdemeanor will also appear on your criminal record.
Who Might See Your Criminal Record?
More people than you would think can see your criminal record. This can play a big role in the jobs you can get and the opportunities that you have.
For example, a potential employer will be able to access this. There might be restrictions that state that nobody with a criminal record can be hired. This could be more specific. A company might only prohibit applicants who have a particular type of misdemeanor.
Not all apartment and rental landlords require background checks, but many do. During a background check, they might see your criminal record. This could mean that you cannot rent there. This is especially true of offenses related to violence or theft.
If you want to go to college after you have gotten a misdemeanor, it’s worth noting that college admissions departments can access these. This could prevent you from getting into college.
Finally, it’s important to realize that—in most cases—criminal convictions are visible to the public. If you wanted to keep it a secret, that’s nearly impossible. Your friends and family might come across the information, which would be embarrassing.
How Else Does a Misdemeanor Affect You?
If you have a misdemeanor on your record, it will remain there and move with you. This can result in long-term consequences. According to HG Legal Resources, “If the individual is subsequently convicted of another offense, the defendant may be considered a repeat defendant. Even if he or she is innocent of this second charge, he or she may be advised not to testify at trial if this record can be brought up.”
If you already have a criminal record, you will be treated as a repeat defendant. This may result in additional fines or incarceration. There may be other consequences, depending on the jurisdiction.
Can You Get a Misdemeanor Taken Off Your Record?
In short, you can get a misdemeanor taken off your record. This is done by a process called misdemeanor expungement. It might also be called “record sealing” or “petition for dismissal”.
Not all states allow expungements, and it might vary by case or crime. For example, some misdemeanors are on the line between a misdemeanor and a felony. These might not be eligible for expungement. In most cases, felonies cannot be expunged.
According to Legal Match, there are some requirements for misdemeanor expungement. These may include things like fulfilling a waiting period and having few other charges. This varies by state.
How Can You Get a Misdemeanor Taken Off Your Record?
To begin this process, it’s recommended that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer. Make sure that they are familiar with the laws in your area. A lawyer can help you to make all the right steps. They should also be able to explain each step along the way.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Misdemeanor Taken Off Your Record?
As with most things, this will vary by state. In most cases, the expungement should take about two to six months.
You can get a misdemeanor taken off your criminal record through the expungement process. You should do this with the help of a lawyer who is familiar with the process. Once you no longer have a criminal record, you will find it easier to get a job or find an apartment.