In the United States, felonies are considered serious crimes and have harsher punishments. A felony conviction can have lasting consequences for an individual’s life, including being unable to obtain employment in particular fields or obtaining a professional license.
This article discusses how long a felony conviction stays on your record and what necessary steps you can take to remove it from your record completely. We also list the benefits when you have your felony expunged, felony offenses that can never be expunged, and some fundamental rights that you will never get back even after your felony conviction is removed.
Does A Felony Stay On Your Criminal Record Forever?
A felony conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your life unless you take action to have it removed.
Anyone who has been convicted of a felony-level crime must act proactively to have their conviction expunged from their records.
The expungement procedure is a set of measures that may be taken to remove the effects of felony convictions from one’s record. When both the defendant and his prior felony conviction are qualified for expungement, their records can be sealed from public view.
However, every state has its regulations regarding expungement. Some states prohibit individuals with felony convictions from having their records expunged, and other states allow only specific categories of felony convictions to be erased. Sealing a felony conviction has several advantages beyond removing your criminal record.
In certain jurisdictions, no felony conviction can be expunged. The following states have this restriction:
In some jurisdictions, a list of felony offenses that may be expunged is minimal.
In other jurisdictions, however, most felonies may be erased. Only the most severe infractions are excluded. These states are:
Unless You Are in the Expungement Process, Your Criminal History Will Still Stay on Your Record
The day you’re sentenced, you can’t ask for your felony record to be deleted. You may, however, begin the procedure once you’ve completed your court-ordered sentence.
As a rule, you can apply for an expungement after serving your felony sentence. Completion of probation implies that you’ve completed all criteria, including but not limited to:
- Staying away from drugs and alcohol;
- Participating in the required community service hours;
- Obtaining the therapy required by law.
You can have your criminal record expunged so long as you aren’t being charged with a new crime or completing another sentence for a different offense.
Understanding The Expungement Process
Each state has its procedure for the expungement process. States frequently consider the following factors in determining whether to allow you for expungement:
- Your record is only for an arrest, not for a conviction.
- You were underage at the time of the crime.
- The offense occurred a long time ago.
- Your offense was only a minor offense.
- Your offense was neither sexual nor violent.
If the conviction was a felony, filing requirements and eligibility are pretty challenging. Some states do not allow expungement for felony convictions. There is often a waiting period before felons file a request to seal their criminal record.
People may be able to erase felony or misdemeanor convictions in California if they meet one of the following criteria:
- The defendant completed the term of probation for their crime.
- The defendant did not serve jail time in state prison for the conviction OR served time in state prison. Instead, he would have served it in county jail time under the “Realignment” of Proposition 47.
Many felonies require time in state prison, so many felony convictions are not qualified for expungement. If a criminal case can’t be expunged, it will stay on their criminal record for the rest of their life.
Several states, like Oregon, allow certain criminal charges to be dismissed after a specific time has elapsed. On the other hand, other states do not allow for a felony conviction expungement. Florida is one of them.
A criminal record can only be expunged in Florida if it resulted from an arrest that did not result in a felony charge or a guilty finding, like a guilty plea.
Generally, felony charges with federal convictions can’t be expunged, either. There is no federal statute that allows for the expungement of a criminal or arrest record.
However, issuance of a court order of expungement by the federal courts can only be done if the felony record was due to:
- An illegal arrest or sentence
- A criminal justice system error
The only way to determine your criminal offense’s eligibility for expungement is to speak with a competent criminal defense attorney from a criminal defense law firm in your area.
Felony Offenses That Can’t Be Expunged In California
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and sentenced to time in a Los Angeles County Jail, you could submit a petition for an expungement. If you had served time in a California state prison, your felony would not be expunged.
Additionally, certain felony convictions can never be expunged from your criminal record in California. These are:
- Penal Code 261.5(d). Statutory rape that occurs between parties under the age of 16 and those who are 21 or older;
- Penal Code 288. Lewd acts involving a child;
- Penal Code 288a. Oral copulation involving a child; and
- Penal Code 286(c). Sodomy involving a child
These are considered some of the most severe crimes that someone can commit, and they cannot be erased from your criminal record.
What Happens When Your Felony Gets Expunged?
Under Penal Code 1203.4, expungement lets you be free from all disabilities and penalties resulting from the offense you have been convicted of.
It’s essential to remember that your crime will never be expunged entirely from your record. Instead, it’ll be removed from the version of your criminal record accessible by the public, including potential employers and landlords.
If you successfully get your felony conviction expunged, you should do certain things more quickly. These include:
- Getting a job (during the hiring process, employers cannot discriminate against you if your record has been expunged);
- Renting an apartment (you can legally state that you did not have any felony conviction);
- Getting a professional license;
- You’ll also become a more reliable witness if you don’t have any felony record.
Some Rights Will Not Be Restored Even After Expungement
Having your felony conviction expunged may make your life a lot easier. However, in many states, you won’t be able to restore some of your rights even after expungement. Some collateral consequences of your felony conviction won’t also be removed.
Your gun rights cannot be restored. And the obligation to register as a sex offender (if applicable) will not be dismissed as well.
Also, keep in mind that expunging your felony conviction does not erase any trace of your conviction. Law enforcement blotters or news articles might contain a mention of your arrest or conviction. Websites may still have earlier versions of your record, and they may only take them down if you pay them.
Even though you’ve had your felony conviction expunged, employers, landlords, or anybody else who’s interested in learning the truth about you or your criminal history can still do it even after felony conviction expungement.
Another thing is if you are convicted of a DUI, your driver’s license suspension or revocation can’t be overturned. In addition, the law enforcement agency can use your prior conviction to enhance sentencing if you ever commit another crime in the future.
Remember, your felony conviction can remain up to 7 years on your credit report after your arrest.
Talk to a criminal defense attorney to know if you are qualified for felony conviction expungement and have your felony conviction removed.
Speak With A Criminal Defense Lawyer To Know More About Felony Offenses And What You Can Do To Expunge Them
It’s important to remember that although the court can dismiss your criminal record, you will still have to live with any of its collateral consequences.
You might still suffer from collateral effects after having your felony conviction expunged.
If you’ve been convicted of a felony and want to consult regarding the expungement of your felony conviction, contact our criminal defense attorney at Summit Defense ASAP!
We have the experience and knowledge to fight for your rights in court and protect what’s important to you. Contact us today for a free consultation!