Can My Conviction Be Expunged?

Have you been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime? Do you want to put your past behind you for good? If so, an expungement of your records might be an option. In today’s blog post, I’ll talk to you about what exactly “expunged” means, as well as the requirements for getting your conviction or arrest records expunged, as well as how to begin the process.

Keep reading to learn more.

What does “expunged” mean?

An expungement (sometimes also called an expunction) is a legal process where a person’s criminal arrest, judgment, and/or conviction is removed from public view. That means these records will no longer be publicly available-- like through a background check.

In an expungement, the court seals the files and the police/sheriff’s office involved in the case seal their records as well. Once an expungement is complete, it’s like the criminal records never existed in the first place.

Why pursue an expungement?

There are many reasons why my clients ask about expungements. For many people, it’s a simple desire to put their past behind them, especially if their conviction or arrest was a youthful indiscretion or a minor crime.

In today’s always-online world, a criminal conviction or even just an arrest can follow you for a lifetime. Online background checks can turn up decades-old convictions or arrests and can limit your ability to:

  • Rent an apartment

  • Secure a professional license or certification

  • Pursue educational opportunities

  • Cause financial, professional, and personal problems

Most of all, an expungement can help you avoid the stress of worrying about the possible negative consequences of your criminal record.

What’s “ban the box”

“Ban the box” is a political movement aimed at helping people with convictions avoid discrimination during the hiring process. For many years, job applications included a box that had to be checked in response to a question about criminal records and arrests.

In 2015, the Portland City Council passed a law preventing the use of such questions prior to a conditional job offer. This is great news, as it limits the damage that can be done to a person’s career due to a previous arrest or conviction.

However, your professional career can still be affected by a conviction or arrest because the ban the box law can’t eliminate all discrimination. Very small companies (those with fewer than 6 full-time employees) are exempt, and background checks (which can reveal un-expunged criminal records) are still allowed after a conditional job offer has been made.

So while Portland’s new ban the box law is a great step in the right direction, pursuing an expungement is still in your best interests. Of course this is all contingent upon your records being eligible for expungement.

What can be expunged?

Not every crime, arrest, and conviction can be expunged. In the state of Oregon, if you were never convicted, you’re eligible to pursue an expungement if:

  • You were arrested for a crime but never charged

  • You were arrested and charged, but the case was dismissed or you won at trial

If you do have a conviction on your record, an expungement can be pursued if:

  • Your conviction was for a misdemeanor, including violations of city/county ordinances

  • Your conviction was for a class C felony, like, Burglary in the Second Degree, Assault in the Third Degree, Delivery of Controlled Substance, and Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine

  • Your conviction for a “violation” of state or local law

  • A crime punishable as either a felony or misdemeanor at the court’s discretion. Examples of these crimes include: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Delivery of a Controlled Substance.

Be aware, however, that if you’re trying to get a conviction expunged, 3 years must have passed since your conviction AND you must have no other criminal convictions in the past 10 years.

What records and convictions can’t be expunged?

Just as important as the records that can be expunged are those that can’t. If you’ve been convicted of any of the following crimes, your records can’t ever be expunged:

Is there any way to expunge a DUII?

In the state of Oregon, the only way a DUII can be expunged is if your case never resulted in filed charges (also known as a “no-action”), if the district attorney dismissed the charges (not through diversion) or if you were acquitted at trial.

If your DUII case was dismissed and you completed your diversion program, the record can’t be expunged.

Can a civil court record be expunged?

Many people who’ve been involved in a lawsuit or other civil court case wish to have these records removed from public view. Unfortunately in the state of Oregon, only the criminal charges and convictions I discussed above are eligible for expungement.

It may be possible to have civil judgments removed from your credit record by contacting credit reporting bureaus directly.

How does the expungement process work?

It’s pretty straightforward. Unlike many other legal proceedings, an expungement doesn’t require you to appear in court.

When a client is interested in an expungement, I file a Motion, Affidavit and Order of Expungement. In addition, I include a copy of your conviction record as well as a complete set of your fingerprints. Your fingerprints must come from approved agency (I can provide you a list of options) and having your fingerprints taken generally costs about $20.

After that, we wait for somewhere between 6 weeks to 4 months to hear back from the court. Once the expungement has been approved, I’ll send you a verification that the records have been completely expunged.

How much does an expungement cost?

At my practice, Adam Greenman Law, I charge a flat rate of $1000 for an expungement. This includes the $252 filing fee to the court, as well as $80 to the Department of State Police for a background check.

What’s the first step towards getting my records expunged?

Call me, Adam Greenman, at (503) 498-6985. I’m an experienced trial lawyer and have helped many clients over the years have their records expunged.

I know how important it is to have your life back after the stressful experience of an arrest, trial, and conviction. I believe that once you’ve served your time or been found innocent of the crime you were charged with you don’t need to live the rest of your life under the shadow of a criminal record.

You deserve a second chance.

Photo Credits: Kathryn Decker, James Palsinad