A criminal record creates difficulties for anyone’s future, whether it’s an arrest or a conviction. Potential employers and even landlords check these records for any conviction or criminal offense. If they find that you have anything on your records, they will consider denying your job application or refusing to take you on as a renter. However, if you’ve suffered an arrest or have a conviction on your record, we have good news for you.

Experienced Shreveport criminal defense attorney Michael J. Vergis has diligently represented Louisiana clients for over 20 years. With creative approaches and dedication, he’ll provide the best advice available on how to succeed as a petitioner in the expungement process. A criminal record can be devastating, but those charges don’t have to follow you forever. Call Michael J. Vergis today at 318-698-3724 for a consultation.

What Is Expungement?

If you have a criminal record, you might have heard about the process of expungements. But what exactly is expungement? It is basically the process of sealing your arrest and conviction records, thus rendering your charges irrelevant for the future. Every state, including Louisiana, has an expungement process. State specific details vary widely. However, most states hold that, once someone’s record goes through expungements, that record need not be disclosed to landlords or employers. 

During the process, a person’s criminal record is completely removed from state or federal record. Afterward, the court systems treat the charges as if they never occurred. While it may sound similar, expungement does not equal forgiveness. Forgiveness is more akin to a legal pardon than an expungement. The major difference between the two is that pardons do not require a removal of charges from a criminal or public record. Expungements, however, begin by order of a judge or court system.

Am I Eligible for Expungement?

There are many cases in which you may be eligible for expungement. Each case has specific rules regarding qualifications. Below, we’ll list two broad circumstances under which you may seek expungement in Louisiana.

You Were Not Convicted of a Crime

  • The district attorney for your case did not prosecute you, meaning no conviction happened.
  • The statute of limitations for pressing charges expires, and nobody initiated proceedings.
  • Someone dismissed the charges against you.
  • The court granted a motion to quash your charges.
  • You courts acquitted you. 

You Were Convicted of a Crime

  • Misdemeanor: A petitioner for expungement must wait at least 5 years after the end of your sentence. You also cannot have any felony convictions during that 5 year period, or pending felony charges. During a five year period, only one misdemeanor may be expunged. For DWI convictions, you can expunge only one every ten years. Convictions which involve domestic violence, stalking, or sexual acts are not eligible for expungement.
  • Felony: In certain cases, you are eligible for expungement if you have a felony conviction. If the prosecution was dismissed, or if your conviction was set aside, you are eligible. Over 10 years passed since you completed your sentence, and you were not convicted of another crime during that period.
    • Louisiana allows only one felony expungement in a 15 year period. This is unless you seek expungement for a conviction that was set aside or dismissed. Violent crimes, sex offenses, domestic abuse, and some drug offenses are not eligible for expungement.

How Do I Get My Records Expunged?

After you complete your sentence, you can apply for expungement. Next, we include a step-by-step guide on how to apply for expungement.

  1. Acquire the correct forms. All Louisiana courts use the same forms, so we recommend using the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Legal Education and Assistance Program’s website to access the forms.
  2. Complete these forms and acquire any additional documents needed by the court. Your parish’s clerk of court will have the necessary documents and certifications.
  3. File your expungement petition with your parish’s clerk of court. Then, present the required documents along with the record you want expunged. You must acquire a copy of this record from the state within 30 days of petitioning for expungement.
  4. Pay the fees. A fee of $550 is the baseline cost of expungement. However, these fees cannot be refunded if your expungement doesn’t qualify. Certain situations require additional fees, which could bring the cost to $700. The state does not waive fees unless the following are true.
    1. You don’t have a felony conviction anywhere else in the country.
    2. You don’t have pending felony charges.
    3. Your criminal offense ended with an acquittal, a motion to quash, dismissal, or a prosecutor’s decision not to pursue your case. The time limit for your prosecution must also have expired.
  5. Then, wait around 60 days after filing. If you meet all qualifications for expungement, it is mandatory that you receive it. If nobody objects to your expungement, you will not have a hearing. Within the 60 day period, you will receive a “Certificate of Compliance” from the Louisiana State Police. This means that your record was removed.
  6. Louisiana requires that you then notify private background check companies of your expungement. Once the company receives a certified copy of your expungement, they can no longer give out the expunged record.

Is There a Fee for Filing for Expungement?

Yes. First of all, the baseline fee for filing is $550. However, certain situations require more fees, which could bring the total to $700. Because these fees cannot be refunded under any circumstances, it is important that you explore whether you are eligible for a waiver of fees. If you qualify for the waiver, submit a “Certification for Fee Waiver” to your parish’s District Attorney. The DA must also consent to this waiver. If the DA signs your certification, you must submit your fee waiver form when you file your expungement petition.

Should I Hire an Expungement Attorney?

Absolutely. The process of expungements is stressful and complicated. With the help of an experienced Louisiana criminal defense attorney, you can get your future back on track. The Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis are committed to protecting our clients’ rights, as well as providing them the tools they need to achieve a brighter future. Contact our office today at 318-698-3724 for a consultation, or visit our website.