How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

Last Modified: June 18, 2024
February 9, 2022 | Rabin Nabizadeh | Violent Crimes


Misdemeanor offenses are far less severe than a felony. But, a misdemeanor offense is greater than that of an infarction. If you received a misdemeanor offense, it’s crucial to understand how long this crime will stay on your record.

The truth is there is no one way to answer this question. The length of time when your misdemeanor offense will stick on your record depends mainly on the state where you live. The type of offense you committed will also play a huge factor in this situation.

We’ve created an easy-to-read guide explaining exactly how long misdemeanors stay on your record. This article will help you understand the details surrounding misdemeanor charges. After reading this article, you will be able to make informed decisions. You will also have a great idea of what appropriate actions you should take after receiving a misdemeanor offense.

What Is A Misdemeanor Charge?


As stated above, a misdemeanor is a crime that’s less serious than a felony conviction. Your state’s legal system determines the severity of the crimes committed in your community. If you receive a misdemeanor offense, there are several things to keep in mind.

If you were accused of minor charges, chances are it will stay on your record for approximately two years. For example, trespassing and some forms of sexual harassment are considered misdemeanor offenses. These records will remain within your criminal history for about two years after the date of the incident occurred.

However, if you receive a more severe misdemeanor offense, this charge may stick on your record for up to ten years. Suppose you’ve been charged with domestic violence or drunk driving. In that case, your offense will stay on your record longer than other offenses. These records will usually appear in criminal history reports for about ten years after the incident occurred.

The amount of time that is required per state varies. For example, in some states, misdemeanors stay on your record for five years from the date the incident occurred. You can request an expungement within two years of receiving the order. After you submit all the necessary paperwork and forms, you will have to pay a small fee.

What Is A Criminal Record?

Your criminal record is essentially an official document, and this record shows all of your criminal charges and convictions. To avoid any confusion, we will use “misdemeanor” for both misdemeanor charges and misdemeanor criminal convictions.

Criminal records can contain information such as:

  • The legal court in which you were prosecuted
  • The date of the crime committed
  • Your recorded address
  • Any aliases or nicknames you’ve gone by in the past
  • Personal offense history that the court may include on a report

Misdemeanor offenses remain on your record for an extended time. If you’re unsure how long this type of charge stays on your record, please check in with an attorney. Our experienced attorneys can help you get insight into the duration of your misdemeanor case.

Does A Misdemeanor Conviction Stay On Your Record?

does-misdemeanor-conviction-stay-on-your-recordA misdemeanor conviction appears on your criminal record for a limited amount of time only. In some states, misdemeanors can stay on your record for ten years from the date of conviction. But, when it comes to minor convictions, this is not always the case.

There may be other factors that affect the length of time a misdemeanor stays on your record. For example, probation can provide specific restrictions affecting how long this type of record stays in effect. Suppose you receive any form of punishment while serving probation. In that case, your criminal offense will remain on your record for a longer time.

It’s important to note that you cannot erase a misdemeanor from your record by waiting it out. In most cases, misdemeanor convictions appear in criminal history reports for an extended time. Law enforcement agencies also have access to your files.

But generally speaking, minor misdemeanor crimes will stay on your criminal for two years. The counting will start after the date of conviction. Most states adhere to this time frame when it comes to criminal records.

Speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney is advisable if you are unclear how long misdemeanors will remain on your record. You can contact our experienced legal professional for this matter. Our expert lawyers will help you take the appropriate steps after receiving charges.

Does A Misdemeanor Conviction Show Up On A Background Check?

In most scenarios, a misdemeanor conviction or charge will appear on your criminal background checks. Even if a misdemeanor is a minor crime, it’s still an illegal offense. Because of this, employers can find your previous misdemeanor charges when they conduct a criminal background check.

Most misdemeanor charges are filed only at the county level. In this case, your employer will see your misdemeanor charge if they did a criminal background check on your county records. But, an employer will only look if you have federal or state charges and skip county-level charges in some cases.

It’s not guaranteed that your employer will not find out about your misdemeanors. In most cases, county courts relay their criminal records to state offices. In this situation, your criminal records will be available even at the state level.

In any case, it is best to be honest with your employer upfront about your misdemeanor history. But, suppose you live in a place where it is illegal for employers to ask about your criminal history. In that case, it’s only fair if you withhold from sharing this sensitive information.

Don’t give out your criminal history right away. It’s best if you wait for your employer to ask this question before providing information.

Can A Misdemeanor Conviction Be Expunged?

can-a-misdemeanor-conviction-be-expungedIn some cases, your misdemeanor charge can be removed from your public criminal records. But, this type of process is not always available for every individual. Your right to pursue expungement is under your state’s expungement laws.

Some courts can remove your misdemeanor offenses from public records. However, some states may not allow you to expunge your misdemeanor record at all.

Here are some scenarios where individuals can erase misdemeanors:

  • If you’ve completed probation without any additional violations;
  • If you’re underage and adjudicated as delinquent;
  • If it’s a first offense related to alcohol or drug possession;
  • The court destroyed your record because it’s too old;
  • If the court did not adjudicate you as guilty due to disease or defect;
  • If your misdemeanor charges were dismissed and you’re not a threat to public safety.

It’s not simple to have your criminal records expunged. In most scenarios, it will be difficult for misdemeanors to disappear from public records.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the status of your case. They can give you an idea of the expungement process and if it applies to your specific situation. Our lawyers at Summit Defense have years of formidable experience helping clients with similar cases.

What Is The Difference Between Sealing And Expunging?

A convicted felon will have two options to keep their criminal records from the public, and they can either have them expunged or sealed. Though these options serve similar purposes, there are distinctions between them.

Sealing is the process of putting records under lock. In this case, only government agencies have access to them.

Expungement is erasing or destroying your criminal record. When this happens, no one can access your criminal history.

When you expunge your records, it’s as if the misdemeanor charge never happened at all. The court does not keep any official documents about your charge either in paper form or electronically.

Sealing a misdemeanor means that the public cannot access your information. But, institutions allowed by the government to do a thorough criminal background check can still see your sealed records.

It’s best to consult with a criminal defense lawyer to understand your options further. They can help you make the right decision, given your current circumstances. Contact our experienced lawyers now at Summit Defense if you want to have your case expunged or sealed.

You Need To Consult A Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Misdemeanor Expungement

california-criminal-defense-attorneyHaving criminal records is devastating. It can ruin many great opportunities for you, and you might even lose a part of your freedom. Misdemeanor charges are often punishable by a county jail sentence.

When you receive misdemeanor charges, it’s best to consult with a criminal defense attorney right away. Summit Defense Law Fim helped numerous clients in the past. Our law firm advocates building a solid attorney-client relationship.

Our lawyers will thoroughly review your case and give you astute legal advice. We will create a customized and effective defense strategy for your misdemeanor charges. Contact us now at 1-866-852-7126 for a free consultation. You can also fill up our online contact form here.

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