If you have been charged with a crime but didn’t end up with a conviction or have a conviction from the past, both situations may be able to be resolved by vacating a conviction or pursuing expungement. Each one does something different, so it’s smart to learn a little more about what they can and cannot do before pursuing these routes to clearing your criminal record.
It is necessary for you to be qualified for an expungement or for the process of vacating a conviction. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Expungements: For those without convictions

Expungements are specifically used for non-conviction data. This data may include:

  • Acquittals
  • Dismissed criminal charges
  • Your arrest record

To be eligible for expungement, you’ll have to have a case with qualified “non-conviction” data. You also have to wait for at least two years before you can seek the expungement.

If you were arrested, you’ll need to wait three years to have that arrest removed from your record.

If you were convicted of a crime, you won’t be able to use an expungement to remove it from your record. Instead, you’ll have to use a process called vacating.

Vacating your conviction

Some people are qualified to vacate a conviction. This helps remove a conviction from your record. You can use this for misdemeanor or felony charges, usually.

The length of time that has to pass from the conviction before you can vacate it varies. For example, domestic violence convictions may not be vacated until at least five years have passed. The minimum amount of time you’d have to wait is three years, but that minimum is only for a few select types of convictions.

How do you know if you can get your record cleared?

Not everyone will qualify to have their records cleared. That’s why it’s important to keep good records that document the facts about your case and the results of your time in court. Start by finding out if your past criminal case qualifies for either of these options. Then, you may want to look for help filling out the paperwork needed to complete the process.