Definition - What does Expungement mean?

Expungement is a process through which an individual can get records related to their criminal charges legally destroyed, obliterated or erased from files, computers and other government depositories.

Every state in the U.S. has enacted some kind of expungement laws that allow individuals to get convictions and arrests expunged from their records. When charges are expunged, they cannot be accessed for civil use or general law enforcement purposes.

Justipedia explains Expungement

Many landlords and employers refrain from providing accommodation and jobs, respectively, to individuals with prior criminal records. In such situations, expungement allows individuals to acquire housing and employment without the scrutiny caused by a criminal record.

In most cases, an individual must submit a formal request for getting their records expunged. In the United States, the laws for expungement vary from state to state. Some states have adopted automatic expungement of records for certain misdemeanors and felonies.

After the records are expunged, they can no longer be accessed for civil use or general law enforcement purposes, except in certain states that allow access to expunged records for sensitive issues such as hiring for work involving elderly, children or law enforcement.

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