One of the first things most client’s ask me when they call about a pending criminal case is, “will this go on my record?” Having a criminal record is a very damaging thing and has the potential to wreak havoc on job and housing prospects. Due to these negative effects it is important to take your criminal record into consideration during any pending criminal matter. Unfortunately, having charges end up on your record is often unavoidable. If you have charges on your record already, or if you are about to get them. Then you still have a chance at a clean record someday. In Utah, the state has set up an expungement process that allows for certain individuals to clean their criminal records.
Current Expungement Laws in Utah
Currently, expungement in Utah is a fairly complicated process that requires a lot of patience. The first step in cleaning up your record is determining whether or not you are eligible. The legislature has set up a lot of rules for who and who is not eligible. So any eligibility determination should usually be done on a case-by-case basis. However, one thing to note is that each level of criminal offense requires a set waiting period. This is the time that you have to wait, after your case is completely closed, before you are eligible. For example, to expunge a class C misdemeanor an individual has to wait at least 3 years. For a class B it is 4 years. Class A is 5 years. A Felony is 7 and a DUI is 10 years.
If an individual is eligible for expungement they then must fill out an application and pay the application fee. The application is fairly simple but it does require that you go to a law enforcement agency to be fingerprinted. The Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) will then review the application and respond (after a very long wait). BCI will either deny the application or provide a certification of eligibility. With that certificate you can file your paperwork with the court and get a judge to grant your request. Once you have a signed order you need to send out letters to a list of government agencies to seal their records.
Proposed Clean Slate Bill
As you can see the expungement process takes a number of steps. This process can get very confusing and complicated for individuals that have never done it before. Due to this concern the legislature is currently considering a proposed bill that would streamline this process. If this new bill passes then it would basically automatically expunge certain conviction records if they met the criteria. In its current form the bill focuses on automatically expunging drug charges and low level misdemeanors. If this bill passes it could have a wonderfully positive effect on a lot of Utahns. Until then, however, expungements must still be done the old fashioned way. If you have a criminal charge that you wish wasn’t on your record. Then give me a call to see if you are eligible for expungement.