Expungement Lawyer in Shreveport

Expungements in Louisiana

Starting Again Can Be Tough with a Criminal Record

Expungement lawyer in shreveport

People make life-changing decisions all the time, and sometimes these can lead to errors of judgment. Although everyone makes mistakes, some have the potential to follow us around for the rest of our lives. If you’re finding it difficult to find employment or get a clean slate due to past issues, you could benefit from an expungement.

Turning your life around can feel like an uphill battle when you have a criminal record in Shreveport or Bossier City. Serving your sentence or getting cleared of charges is sometimes not enough—a criminal record of any kind is enough for most employers to pass on you. As such, many people feel overwhelmed and give in to their despair.

Fortunately, there is a way for people to successfully move forward without worrying about their criminal record ruining their chances. In Louisiana, you may apply for your criminal record to be expunged or sealed under certain circumstances.

Records that qualify for expungement will be hidden from public view. They will only be available to specific professional licensing boards and law enforcement. With this, you won’t have to disclose prior arrests or convictions.

Does an Expungement Mean Your Record is Erased?

An expungement is not the same as removal. When you apply to have your records expunged, the criminal charge against you still exists, but it will no longer be on public records. Law enforcement agencies will still have access to it, however.

Furthermore, if the appellant or plaintiff drops the charges against you, the arrest will still exist on your record. It would be best if you petitioned the court to expunge it.

Do You Qualify for Record Expungement in Louisiana?

When you want to apply for record expungement, the first thing you should do is hire a criminal defense attorney like Christopher Stahl. He has handled hundreds of cases in North Louisiana, from misdemeanors and minor cases to felonies. His experience with the criminal justice system will help you gain the best possible outcome for your application.

Keep in mind that not all offenses qualify for expungement. What’s more, it can be nearly impossible to remove all traces of an offense because of the internet and social media.

However, there are still benefits to having a clean record, and if you are serious about turning over a new leaf, it’s worth looking into. Consulting with a lawyer like Mr. Stahl will determine if you can apply for one.

Record Expungement Defined

It helps to know a few terms before applying to have your records sealed. When referring to the expungement of criminal records, here are phrases that you should know:

  • Expunge a Record – This phrase refers to the removal of information of any kind from public access. Expungements cover convictions, fingerprints, or photographs pursuant to the provisions of applicable Louisiana laws. Note that expunging means sealing, not destroying a record.
  • Expungement by Redaction – This measure provides the benefits of records expungement for a person arrested together with others who are not entitled to having their records sealed. Expungement by redaction removes the name and identifying information of a person while retaining the public record of the incident.
  • Interim Expungement – This kind of expungement seals a felony arrest of an individual convicted of a misdemeanor stemming from the original felony. You can only remove the original arrest with this kind of expungement.
  • Records – This term refers to photographs, fingerprints, incident reports, dispositions, and other kinds of information related to a single arrest event. It includes files in the possession of any criminal justice agency, clerk of court, and state law enforcement. “Records” do not include DNA information.

Expungement for Persons without a Conviction

If you were arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony but were acquitted, you could apply for these records to be sealed. You can petition for expungement if any of the following are true:

  • The district attorney decided not to prosecute the case
  • The statute of limitations has expired without anyone pursuing a case
  • The court dismissed the charges against you
  • The court granted a motion to quash the charges
  • The court acquitted you of all charges

Suppose you were convicted of a crime, and the court determines on appeal that you were factually innocent and suffered a wrongful conviction. In that case, you can petition for the arrest and conviction records’ expungement.

Need an expungement lawyer in Shreveport?

Book a consultation with Attorney Christopher Stahl and learn more about how to apply for an expungement. A North Louisiana native, Mr. Stahl has been practicing in the area since 2012 and has both practical and theoretical knowledge of local and state laws.

Expungement for Persons with a Conviction

Sealing your records will look a little different if you had a conviction. Furthermore, your application’s chances vary depending on whether you had a felony or misdemeanor charge.

Misdemeanor offenses

If your conviction was for a misdemeanor charge, you could petition for expungement five years after the end of your sentence, probation, parole, or deferred adjudication. You must also have no felony convictions or pending felony charges in the five years between the conviction and your application.

Furthermore, according to article 977 of the Louisiana Criminal Code, you can only apply to expunge one misdemeanor offense for every five-year period, except for DUI convictions, which you can only expunge once every ten years. Misdemeanor convictions involving domestic violence, stalking, and sexual acts are ineligible for expungement.

Felony offenses

Persons convicted of a felony could have their records expunged under certain circumstances. First, if the conviction was set aside and the prosecution was dismissed, you can expunge a record of a felony.

You could also apply for one if ten years have passed since the completion of all the terms of a sentence and if you had no other convictions within the ten-year period.

Note that Louisiana law states that you can only expunge one felony conviction every 15 years. If you want to expunge a record for a conviction where the court dismissed the prosecution’s charges, however, the waiting period does not apply.

Like misdemeanors, some felony convictions, including those for domestic abuse battery, sex offenses, violent crimes, and certain drug offenses, aren’t eligible for an expungement. Article 978 of the Louisiana Criminal Code will have a complete list of eligible crimes.

When you book a consultation with Attorney Christopher Stahl, you can learn more about the different types of misdemeanors and felonies eligible for expungement. Attorney Stahl can also advise you regarding the step-by-step process of your specific case.

What Benefits Do I Get from a Louisiana Expungement?

An expungement has several benefits for a person with a criminal record. Besides not having to declare your criminal history, here are other benefits you can get:

  • It can help you “pass” a federal background check for purchasing a firearm. Note that an expungement is not a guarantee that you will pass, but it certainly counts in your favor. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives can also consider your expungement when deciding if it will lift your “disability” to purchase firearms. Changes effective August 2016 are designed to allow prior felons with expunged records to obtain federal consent for a firearm purchase.
  • An expungement might prevent an insurance company from learning of your driving convictions. This is favorable for you because it minimizes the risk of lenders raising your insurance rates. Again, an expungement is not a guarantee for preventing the increase of rates, which is likely for people with a criminal record related to driving or homeownership.
  • An expungement also prevents state license boards from accessing your criminal history. Note that this is very limited—some boards will always have access to your criminal history, like the ones for EMTs, doctors, lawyers, nurses, psychologists, dentists, bankers, pharmacists, teachers, and counselors. Though these boards will have access to your criminal history, they might consider a court-ordered expungement as a mitigating factor and review your application favorably.
  • When you have your records sealed, you can lift or expedite the lifting of any housing assistance bans you have. In some instances, sex crimes and narcotics distribution convictions could make you permanently ineligible for “Section 8” housing subsidies. Meanwhile, other felonies could temporarily suspend your eligibility—relevant bodies review them individually. Agencies often allow you into the program if the felony has been expunged and if you had not committed other felonies in the past five to ten years. 
  • You can substantially reduce the period of disqualification if you’ve addressed it with drug or alcohol rehabilitation, record expungement, community service, and other forms of reform. Even if you are accepted into a Section 8 program, landlords usually conduct background checks, and if they find a conviction on your record, it might affect their decision to rent to you. Expungement could prevent potential Section 8 landlords from seeing your record.
  • Finally, an expungement can help you reach your goals in education. If you had been disqualified for federal student loans or grants, sealing your record can lift or expedite the lifting of this disqualification. In cases where reinstatement is discretionary, you could point to the expungement as evidence that the court has considered you sufficiently rehabilitated. As such, you could qualify for student aid.
    • If the expungement occurs before you apply for student aid, you do not even have to disclose your criminal background. Having your records sealed could also influence a college admissions board to see your application favorably. Even if they know of your conviction, they could see your expungement as evidence of your personal growth.
Benefits from an expungement

How Do You Undergo an Expungement in Louisiana?

A Louisiana criminal defense attorney can help you file a petition where your arrest and conviction occurred. Then, a judge will review your application and sign the expungement petition. After this, your lawyer will forward copies of the expungement to local authorities. Finally, the Louisiana Department of Safety will forward it to state and federal bodies. The entire process takes approximately 6 months.

Record expungement does not automatically occur if the other party drops the charges against you or if you complete your sentence. In most cases, you still need to petition for an expungement, which means the arrest will still be on the public record, and it will still appear in background checks.

Keep in mind that if you are entering a first-time guilty plea to a misdemeanor or a minor felony in Louisiana, you need to enter your plea under articles 894 or 893 of the Louisiana Criminal Code. Doing so makes you eligible for expungement.

Persons charged with the following misdemeanors pled under article 894 may be eligible for having their records sealed:

  • assault
  • prostitution
  • simple battery
  • lewd conduct
  • resisting arrest
  • drug possession
  • minor possession
  • domestic violence
  • public intoxication
  • disturbing the peace

Furthermore, you could apply for an expungement for certain first-time felonies pled under article 893. Note that violent crimes and sex crimes involving minors are ineligible for pleading under article 893.

If you are eligible for expungement, you must complete your sentence. You need to pay all fines, finish all required counseling, rehabilitation, or community service. You may not have pending charges when you apply for an expungement. Also, there could be a probationary period before you can apply.

Let a top-notch criminal defense lawyer help you file your motion for expungement. When you apply to have your criminal records sealed in Bossier City or Shreveport, you need a lawyer familiar with the state and local criminal laws. Many lawyers fit the bill, but you should go with an experienced attorney like Christopher Stahl.

Your criminal defense attorney needs to be patient and understanding. They have to be there to explain the entire process thoroughly and walk you through all your options. Setting the record straight and moving on with your life requires patience and perseverance, and you’ll definitely succeed if you have an experienced lawyer on your side. Get on a call with Attorney Stahl today, or reach out to us for other concerns!

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