Original air date: October 16, 2012

Interview with Judge Paul Bonin about Expungements

Answering Viewer Questions about Expungements

Bonus Interview with attorneys Gene Redmann and Matt MacLaren

Judge Paul Bonin of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals gives insight to the expungement process. The most important thing to know is that an expungement does not disappear from the eyes of police or prosecutors. However, an expungement does hide a conviction from the eyes of the public. For example, Judge Bonin depicts this scenario: an individual was arrest, but the arrest was expunged. The individual now applies for a job. This individual may say to a prospective employer that he has not been arrested if the arrest was done in Louisiana. However, there are certain exceptions. One must admit to being arrested if one applies to law school, nursing school, medical school, and the like even if the record was expunged. Moreover, pay close attention to the wording of a question on any school or job application. FYI: if an employer asks, ” have you had any expungements?” one who does, in fact, have a record expunged may truthfully say in Louisiana that he does not.

Any arrest that did not result in a conviction or a plea to a felony or misdemeanor may be expunged. If given the option to plea to a lesser offense, plea under Article 894 for misdemeanors in certain circumstances or Article 893 for felonies in all circumstances in order to have a record expunged at a later date.

With regards to a concealed DWI, Judge Bonin offers another scenario to better explain that expunged records are never erased, only concealed from the eyes of the public. Consider a woman who is arrested and convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), but she later has that DWI expunged under Article 894. However, 3 years later, she is arrested and convicted for a 2nd DWI. The arrest and the conviction of the first DWI that was previously expunged becomes public record. Furthermore, the prosecutor will use the first DWI as evidence. Consequently, this evidence will influences the degree of punishment for the 2nd DWI.

With regards to texting while driving, Judge Bonin considers texting while driving a far worse occurrence because of the following logic: while DWIs happen after 6pm, texting while driving happens at all times.

Cases tried in juvenile court generally remain concealed from the public. However, if a juvenile later commits a crime as an adult, the crime committed as a juvenile can be used as evidence in court.

If I am applying for a green card, do I need to disclose that I have had a conviction expunged?

Simply, yes. John comments that the last thing that one wants to do is come across to the federal government that one is not forthcoming with the facts. Judge Bonin highlights that one should always make the judge and one’s lawyer of the status of one’s citizenship if one is pleading to a crime. If you are with a green card in the USA and pleading guilty to a crime, it will affect the status of your citizenship. Please find forms and an extended web-only interview with Matt McLaren & Gene Redmann on the net.

Do you need to wait a certain amount of time to receive an expungement? Is there a time limit for automatic criminal expungement?

There is no such thing as automatic expungement. A person must ask for certified proof of expungement. If you are trying to get an arrest expunged, you typically wait until all the years are over from the time that you could be prosecuted. However, the DA can shorten that. There are two cases for asking for an expungement. f you have plead guilty but the judge does not accept it and puts you on probation, one must wait for probation to end in order to ask for a record to be expunged. If the judge accepts guilty plea and puts on probation, you must still wait for the probation period to end.

How can one get drug charges expunged?

If it was a distribution charge, it is not likely that the drug charge will be dropped. If it was a possession charge, it would depend on how old the charge is.

Why do you have to file for an expungement if you are acquitted for a crime? Shouldn’t the judge be able to automatically strike your record?

This question to to be addressed to legislators, not judges. Judge Bonin suggests writing to your legislator. John further suggests that if you are arrested and no charges are brought, then your arrest should be stricken, too.

Can an employer in Louisiana find out about my record in Florida? Should I try to get my record expunged?

Yes, an employer in Louisiana can find out about your record in Florida. Yes, you should try to get it expunged.

An expungement is a conviction erased from public record or, in cases of acquittal, an arrest moved from public record.

Expungements are a tool for prosecutors that give an offender the possibility of taking responsibility by pleading guilty pursuant to Article 893 for felonies and Article 894 misdemeanors. After all requirements met to the probation period, one may qualify for an expungement.

However, if one has not pled guilty pursuant to Article 893 or Article 894, no expungement available to you. For most non violent crimes, expungement under these articles is available.

If you have been arrested but there was no conviction or no plea deal, the arrest can be expunged. One must go through the paperwork but not pay the fees. The state charges fees for an expungement. However, if you have an arrest without conviction or plea deal, you may pay fees for the attorney to do the work while state fees are waived.

It is not advisable for an individual to represent himself in trying to obtain an expungement.

If one would like to obtain an expungement for one old conviction of a misdemeanor or felony, it would cost about $1,000-1,200 for one conviction. If more than one conviction or red tape, you will know how much more expensive

What is the person’s responsibility to admit a conviction even if it has been expunged on job or school applications?

It depends on wording of the question. For example, if the question is ” have you been ever been convicted?” Then the truthful answer is yes, but then later explain if the conviction was expunged or not.

Do You Have A Criminal Record In Louisiana?

A criminal conviction of any kind can affect your life in innumerable ways. For example, a conviction could adversely impact your employment opportunities or educational opportunities.

Did you know that you may be able to get your criminal record expunged (erased or sealed)? An expungement of your arrest or record could make a significant difference in your life.

What You Should Know

An expungement does not cause your arrest or conviction to disappear from the eyes of police or prosecutors. However, an expungement does hide a conviction from the eyes of the public. People who seek expungements often do so because of a concern about questions that might arise on job applications or due to concerns about what may be revealed in criminal background checks.

Whether you are a good candidate for an expungement depends on the specific facts of your case. Consult with an attorney who has particular experience assisting clients with expungements to determine if you have a basis for an expungement.

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