Expungement is the removal or destruction of a person’s criminal record. Expungements can be beneficial to clients for a number of reasons. Expungements and who is entitled to them is governed by statute in Louisiana. The law regarding expungements is complex and has been changed regularly over the last few years. It is very important for any criminal defendant to understand the law regarding expungements during every stage of the proceedings. Decisions made at trial will have a direct affect on whether an arrest, charge, or conviction can be expunged in the future.
The law regarding misdemeanors and felonies differs somewhat, but can be explained in three separate categories. First, arrests or charges where the defendant is never convicted. Second, charges where a person is convicted, but pleads under a special statute that allows the charge to be set aside as an acquittal at a later date. Third, charges where a person is convicted or pleads guilty. Each category is treated differently when it comes to expungements, so it is important to understand the differences.
When a person is arrested for a crime and is never convicted, they are generally entitled to expungement of the criminal record from all public records. This type of expungement removes any record of the crime from public access and cannot be used by government entities in the future. A person could be arrested but never convicted because the prosecutor declines to accept the charges, the person enters some type of Pre-Trial Diversion, the charges are dismissed prior to trial, or the charges are taken to trial and the person is acquitted.
The second category of charges subject to expungement involve guilty pleas under special statutes. These statutes allow defendants to plead to their charges under these special statutes which will allow the conviction to be “set aside” after a certain period of time has passed and no other charges have been received. Lastly, defendants who plead guilty to misdemeanor offenses or who are convicted after a trial are also allowed to expunge their charges if a number of years have passed and they have no other charges pending against them. Felony convictions are generally not subject to expungement if they do not fall under the special statute mentioned above.
If a charge is subject to expungement, the process for filing is straightforward and can be completed within a few weeks. If you would like more information, please contact us to set up an appointment.
Robert J. Landry is located in Houma, Louisiana and performs work in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and East Baton Rouge Parishes.