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Expunging records of Louisiana arrests and convictions

Many convicted Baton Rouge defendants feel that once sentencing terms have been satisfied, they are free to move forward with their lives. Defendants quickly learn paying a debt to society can include long-term consequences. A criminal history outlasts time in prison, paid fines and completed probation.

A criminal record is public information available to landlords, lenders, employers and anyone else in a position to judge a person for a past arrest or conviction. According to a National Institute of Justice report, nearly one-third of U.S. adults are arrested by age 23. More than one in five adult job seekers, no matter how well qualified, has diminished job opportunities due to the past.

State laws permit expungement of criminal records for individuals with arrests or convictions for nonviolent misdemeanor and felony charges – an arrest does not have to lead to a conviction to be part of a record. Expungement clears a criminal history from the public eye. However, information remains available to law enforcement agencies, the courts and other agencies.

A person may wait five to 10 years after the fulfillment of a sentence before expungement is possible, depending upon whether a record involves a misdemeanor or felony. The process can be lengthy, since only one arrest or conviction can be expunged at a time, and costly with fees for each expungement starting at $550. Request for expungements also can be challenged.

A criminal record may linger even after an expungement is granted. Employers and others may find out about past arrests or convictions through private investigators or from online sources -- agencies that haven't bothered to remove the information and criminal background websites. Media archives also can provide a record.

Despite these obstacles, secondary consequences prompt many individuals to seek concealment of criminal records. Defendants can learn more about expungement eligibility, procedures and costs by speaking with a criminal defense attorney.

Source: Shreveport Times, "Getting a second chance after a criminal record" Alexandria Burris, accessed Mar. 19, 2015

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