5 Frequently Asked Questions About Expungements in Louisiana
1. How often can I get an expungement?
Early and often - if you were not convicted of any offense resulting from the arrest, you can expunge these arrests any time and as many of them as you want. If you were arrested for a felony but convicted of a misdemeanor, you can apply for an interim expungement of the felony arrest anytime, but cannot remove the record of the misdemeanor conviction until the delays discussed below have passed.
5 Years - for most misdemeanors after the date you were last serving any portion of your sentence (including probation).
10 years - for most felonies after the date you were last serving any portion of your sentence (including probation or parole).
You can only expunge one misdemeanor conviction (barring special sentencing provisions) every 5 years and one felony conviction (barring special sentencing provisions) every 15 years. Misdemeanor DWIs can only be expunged once every 10 years.
2. Are there any charges I can’t expunge?
Yes. Sex offenses as defined in La. R.S. 15:541, domestic abuse battery and stalking convictions cannot be expunged. Under certain circumstances, crimes of violence as defined in La. R.S. 14:2(B) and violations of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances laws (Title 40) cannot be expunged.
3. How long will this process take?
Approximately 6 - 9 months.
The first step is to apply for a background check from Louisiana State Police. Once that is received, the Petition for Expungement must be filed within 30 days. There is a 60-day waiting period during which the State may file an objection to the Petition. Once the 60-day waiting period has passed, the Court will set the matter for a court appearance and either grant or deny the Petition. If it is granted, the Court will sign the order and the expungement will be granted.
There is often a delay between the signing of the order and the removal of the record because the Clerk of Court must send a copy of the order to each police agency involved in the case. Once each agency has removed the record from public access, they will send a certification letter stating so to the Clerk of Court. This entire process from background check request to receipt of final certification letter takes approximately 6 months.
4. Once I have gotten an expungement, can I tell people I’ve never been arrested?
Under most circumstances and with regard to the specific charge you have gotten expunged, yes. (If you have multiple arrests and are not able to expunge them all, you may still have to disclose those arrests depending on the wording of the question.)
5. Does an expungement make it like my charge “never happened?”
Short Answer: No.
Longer Answer: Expungements are different in every state. In Louisiana, an expungement removes the record from “public access” but does not result in the record’s destruction. In effect, this means that most background checks will not reveal the existence of the arrest; however, there are many exceptions to this rule. This also means that the arrest can be seen by law enforcement and the courts and can be used against you in subsequent prosecutions.
If you have a specific question about whether an expungement is a good idea for your circumstances, call us at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.
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