Thursday, April 10, 2014

Expungement of a criminal case in Kansas. The truth and the myths

Everybody screws up at some point or another.  Some people get caught, other offenders skate by.  Such is the way of the world.  Most people come to a crossroads and decide that its time to get their act together and set some sort of  goal for themselves.  In the process of working to that goal they decide it would serve them better to clean up their criminal history.  That's usually when they call my office, trying to figure out what can be done.

They have heard of this mystery phrase called "expungement" and they know that they want one, they just aren't sure how to accomplish it.  This article will tell you what an expungement is and what it is not.  It will answer some basic questions that most people want to know and refute some myths or rumors about expungements in Kansas.

First things first, an expungement will never happen automatically.  Convictions or Diversions or Suspended Sentences or even dismissals won't just "fall off your record."  That does not happen, and it will not happen ever, Period.  It is a common misconception that a criminal conviction will fall off your record.  It won't. Ever.  You have to take an active role to clean up your criminal record.  

Second, a typical diversion on a criminal case leaves no record, so you don't need to expunge it.  Wrong. False.  Incorrect.  A diversion still leaves a record.  It can still be looked up just like most any other records.  It just won't show as a conviction.  If you don't want people to know about it, it needs to be expunged.

Third, an expungement will seal and destroy your criminal record so nobody can ever see it again and no job will ever find out.  Sorry folks this is a myth as well.  An expungement even after it is granted will not prevent everyone from seeing your record.  It will still be available to law enforcement.  If you get in more trouble down the road, it will still be used against you in sentencing of your new offense.  Also, you have to remember, this conviction has been out in the public domain for years.  Anyone could have copied that record or downloaded it into some database, et. cetra.  Many companies use outside agencies to conduct background checks, no entity regulates those companies as to the accuracy of their privately maintained data.  The company that you are applying for may use one of these agencies and may still report to your company a conviction even after it has been expunged.

So what the heck does an expungement do anyway?

Well it can dramatically improve your job prospects.  It dramatically limits most company's and private individuals ability to discover your criminal history, it allows you to provide more favorable answers to criminal history questions on job applications.  It can pull records off of online court databases.  It does a lot to help you.  I'll explain each of the things that it does once granted.

It can dramatically improve your job prospects.
Imagine the difference in attitude a prospective employer would have with you if you had no criminal record as opposed to a criminal record.  You start off a job in a position of trust, not in a position of having to earn trust and overcome the stigma of a conviction.  No more explaining your stupid mistake.  No more getting "weeded out" at the preliminary stage of reviewing applications because you checked a box that said felon.

It dramatically limits most company's and private individuals ability to discover your criminal history.
Once the record has been expunged it is removed from public view from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations criminal database.  Most employers and outside agencies that work for employers doing back ground checks rely on the Kansas Bureau of Investigations database.

It allows you to provide more favorable answers to criminal history questions on job applications.
You can legitimately and honestly say that you have never been convicted of a criminal charge once it is expunged.  The law in Kansas, says that a person who has had a record expunged is to be treated as if the conviction never happened.  Most applications do not ask you if you have a record expunged.

It can pull records off of online court databases.
Most local jurisdictions that have online databases available to the public to look at concerning criminal cases, will pull all records of the case from view.  An example would be Johnson County's JIMS system. Once a case has been expunged they quickly pull down the records.

If you need help with an expungement of just want more information regarding expungements.  Call my office or visit my expungement website

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