A felony conviction can drastically alter your life. Aside from severe penalties and prison time, you may suffer implications for your immigration status, credit score, ability to get housing or attend school, job eligibility, and social stigma. A felony conviction, however, does not have to stay on your record indefinitely. Continue reading to find out how long a felony conviction will stay on your record.
A felony conviction is often permanent on a person’s criminal record. Usually, the only method to get rid of it is to have it erased. This procedure has the potential to conceal the conviction from the public eye.
Each state has its unique rules regarding expungement. Some states prohibit people with felony convictions from having their records expunged. Other states only allow for the expungement of certain types of felony convictions. There are various practical advantages to sealing a felony conviction.
Why Are Felony Records Permanent?
Felonies are the most serious and frequently violent offenses. They include crimes such as murder, arson, fraud, armed robbery, and so on. A felony conviction is a long procedure that includes arraignments, pre-trial conferences, motion hearings, and a trial. Felonies are not given lightly.
When a person is convicted of a felony, the offense is deemed serious enough (and the trial thorough enough) that all felonies are permanently recorded on your record. This implies that landlords, employers, banks, and law enforcement may all see any felony convictions you’ve ever had.
Employment and Felonies
Employers use felony background information in different ways depending on the state. 13 states (CA, CO, NM, NE, IL, MN, HI, MA, MD, NJ, CT, RI, and DE) have passed laws prohibiting employers from asking about felony convictions on employment applications. Employers can use background checks in those 13 states, but they can’t ask about convictions until later in the employment process.
Furthermore, as part of proper hiring practices, the Federal US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved the elimination of queries about convictions from job applications.
While some states have more equitable employment standards, companies can still do a background check and find felony records.
How Long Does a Felony Stay On Your Record?
If nothing is done, a felony conviction will stay on your criminal record in perpetuity. Anyone convicted of a felony offense must take aggressive actions to have the conviction erased from their record.
These processes are referred to as the expungement procedure. If both the offender and the preceding felony conviction are qualified for expungement, the conviction record can be sealed from public view.
What is the Procedure for Expungement?
Each state’s procedure for expunging a criminal record is different. Many states consider the following issues to be justifications for allowing expungement:
- The record reflects an arrest rather than a conviction.
- At the time of the offense, the defendant was a minor.
- The crime occurred a long time ago,
- The infraction was minor, and
- The crime was neither violent nor a sex crime.
The qualifying and filing criteria can be fairly stringent if the conviction was for a felony. Some states do not allow felony convictions to be expunged at all. Many states require criminals to wait a certain amount of time before submitting an application to seal their record.
In California, for example, felony or misdemeanor convictions can be expunged provided the following conditions are met:
- The defendant successfully fulfilled his probation period for the offense, and
- either the defendant:
- did not serve any time in state prison as a result of the conviction, or
- served time in state prison but would have served it in county jail under Realignment Proposition 47.1
However, because many felonies require time in state jail, many felony convictions are ineligible for expungement. If the criminal case cannot be expunged, it will remain on the person’s criminal record for the rest of his or her life.
Many other states, like Oregon, enable particular criminal crimes to be erased after a certain amount of time.
However, some states do not allow felony convictions to be erased. One of these states is Florida. A criminal record can only be expunged in that state if it was for an arrest that did not result in criminal charges or an adjudication of guilt, such as a guilty plea.
Federal convictions for felony offenses, in general, cannot be erased. There is no federal law that provides for the erasure of a criminal or arrest record. Federal courts will only issue an expungement order if the felony record was obtained as a result of:
- an illegitimate arrest or conviction, or
- in the criminal justice system, a clerical error.
The best approach to find out if your criminal offense is expungable is to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney from local law practice.
Is It True That if I Delete a Conviction, That Means It Never Happened?
The fact that a criminal record has been expunged does not indicate that the conviction never occurred. It only implies that the public can no longer see it.
Expunging a record is sometimes known as “sealing” a record. A felony conviction that has been erased remains on the record. It’s only that it’s no longer visible. It will not be shown in criminal background checks. When asked about his or her criminal history, a person with a felony conviction that has been erased is not required to admit to it.
What Are the Advantages of Expunging a Previous Conviction?
The public will no longer be able to see a felony conviction if it is erased or sealed from your criminal record. There are various advantages to keeping the conviction hidden from public view. These are some examples:
- not be required to declare a conviction on a job application,
- having the ability to obtain professional licenses or certifications that need a clean criminal record,
- joining professional groups that ban someone with a criminal record from membership,
- eligibility for government grants or money, such as scholarships
- not having your credibility called into question in court, and
- a lack of bias from neighbors and community members
Even in jurisdictions that have “banned the box,” which mandates the declaration of a criminal record on a job application, expunging a conviction can still be beneficial. States and municipalities that have prohibited these questions on job applications may nonetheless enable potential employers to ask them once a conditional offer of employment has been made. By expunging a felony record, job candidates are no longer required to divulge their past convictions at this point in the recruiting process.
Is there anything an expungement won’t fix?
An obliterated record will not, in several states,:
- reestablish gun rights
- overturn a driver’s license suspension or revocation, frequently following a DUI conviction (DUI),
- eliminate the need for sex offenders to register, or
- preclude the earlier conviction from being utilized as a sentence enhancer for a subsequent criminal conviction by a law enforcement agency or district attorney
What Felonies Cannot Be Removed?
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and sentenced to time in a Los Angeles County jail, you can file a petition for expungement. If you served time in a California state prison, you cannot have your felony expunged.
Furthermore, in California, many felony charges cannot be wiped from your criminal record. These are some examples:
- Statutory rape involves people under the age of 16 and over the age of 21.
- Lewd behavior with a youngster (288 PC)
- Oral coitus with a child (288a PC)
- Sodomy in the presence of a kid (286(c) PC)
These are among the most serious offenses a person may commit, and they can never be expunged from a criminal record.
What Happens After My Felony Is Dismissed?
Expungement, according to Penal Code 1203.4 PC, allows you to “be liberated from all penalties and disabilities stemming from the offense” for which you were convicted. Keep in mind that a felony conviction is never permanently erased from your record. Rather, it is erased from the version of your criminal record that the public – including employers and landlords – may see.
Certain things should be easier for you to do after your felony conviction is expunged. This includes finding work (employers cannot discriminate against you if your record has been expunged), renting an apartment (you can legally state you haven’t been convicted of a felony), and acquiring a professional license. You’ll also be a more dependable witness because your credibility can’t be called into question if you don’t have a felony on your record.
Even if the Felony Is off Your Record, Your Rights May Still Be Limited.
Having a felony removed from your record might make your life a lot easier. Expungement, on the other hand, will not restore all of your rights or eradicate all of the collateral repercussions of your conviction. Your right to keep and bear arms will not be restored. The requirement to register as a sex offender (if relevant) will remain in effect.
It’s also crucial to remember that just because your felony has been erased from your record doesn’t mean that all trace of your conviction has vanished. Your arrest or conviction may be mentioned in news articles or police blotters. Websites may still have old copies of your record and will only agree to remove them for a price. So, even if you’ve obtained an expungement, be aware that employers, landlords, or anybody else interested in learning the truth about your history may do so.
It’s also worth noting that your felony can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years after you’ve been arrested.
How Long Does a Felony Stay On Your Record if You Are Charged but Not Convicted?
Would you hire someone with a charge of voluntary manslaughter on their record, even if they were not convicted?
Even if the candidate was completely innocent of the crime, most employers would refuse. This is how a single accusation (followed by a formal criminal charge) can haunt you for the rest of your life, even if you did not commit the crime.
Many (but not all) people who have felony charges but no convictions on their record are eligible to have the criminal charge record removed (expunged) or hidden from everyone except public officials (sealed).
In any case, the application process is the same. Unfortunately, your application will be refused in Florida if:
- You have a prior criminal record; or
- You previously received a sealing or expungement; or
- You have had adjudication for certain serious or sex crimes withheld; or
- You have a pending sealing or expungement application; or
- You are currently the subject of a criminal investigation; or
- You have not completed the court supervision for the charge you want to be sealed or erased (you are still on probation, for example).
Frequently Asked Questions
In California, Can a Felony Be Expunged?
If you have a felony conviction in California, you are in luck since the state has one of the most lenient expungement rules in the country. According to California Penal Code 1203.4, a person with a felony conviction may petition the court to re-open the case, set aside the conviction, or dismiss the case.
In California, Can a Convicted Felon Own a Gun After Ten Years?
Anyone convicted of a felony offense in any state or nation is barred from owning a handgun in California for the rest of their lives.
In Which States Is It Legal for a Convicted Felon to Own a Firearm?
Today, in at least 11 states, including Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota, and Rhode Island, the restoration of guns rights is automatic, with no review, for many nonviolent felons, usually, after they complete their terms or have been crime-free for a set period of time.
Is It Permissible for Someone Who Has Committed a Felony to Be in the Presence of Firearms?
In general, convicts are still allowed to associate with or be near someone who owns a gun. However, if the gun is present or if the individual lives with them, things might become complicated. A convicted felon may be judged guilty of “constructive possession” of a firearm in particular cases.