An expungement will take convictions off of your criminal record. This can be done for some felonies and misdemeanors, depending on the laws in your state; it is more commonly used for misdemeanors, and some felonies are even exempt from the process. You may not be able to have crimes of a sexual or violent nature removed, for instance, but you might be able to get a felony DUI removed. On the whole, though, this is often used for minor crimes like petty theft or driving under the influence.
It is very important to remember that not all states will allow expungements. California does, for example, but all you can do if you live in New York is have your record sealed, meaning that it still exists, but the public cannot see it any longer.
If you are allowed to request an expungement in your state, the next thing that you want to know is how much this is going to cost. As you may expect, the cost varies a bit based on many factors, so it helps to break things down piece by piece.
First, there are going to be standard court costs. These generally range from $100 to $400. However, if it is an extensive case, the cost could be higher. Furthermore, there are usually filing fees that are assessed along with court costs. This is simply for the paperwork that needs to be done, so a complicated process that involves more paperwork –- such as trying to have a felony erased instead of a misdemeanor -– could come with higher costs due to the sheer man-hours required of the court.
This is the part that is nearly impossible to pin down since there are so many different factors that play into it. If you hire an attorney to represent you and help you through this complex process, you have to pay the hourly rate that your attorney asks for. This will usually be given to you up front, and then your bill will have a breakdown of the hours spent and the cost. Estimates range from a low end of $400 to a high end of $4,000, though the attorney that you choose really makes all the difference.
Once again, the complexity of the case plays into it. The more hours that the attorney needs to spend sorting through the information and filling out the paperwork, the more that it will cost.
Often, the court costs and other fees are not going to be requested in a lump sum, but are simply going to come up as you move through the process. You will have to take care of each fee promptly for the case to continue. For example, in Florida, there is a $75 fee that is requested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement when you have paperwork put in to check and see if you are eligible to have your record expunged. You could have to pay this even if it turns out that you are ineligible and no more can be done.
Finally, you need to know that the original criminal case itself has to be resolved for your record to be expunged. If you were ordered to serve some type of sentence or go on probation,that must come to an end first. Likewise, if you owe money that is connected to the case -– perhaps you are paying restitution or paying fines to the state or federal government –- then you have to settle those accounts first. Getting your record expunged is simply a way to clear that record, not to avoid all connected fines, fees and sentences.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified expungement lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local expungement attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.