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Can a misdemeanor be expunged in Louisiana?

Easy access to public records allows employers, educational institutions, government agencies, lenders and landlords to learn a lot about you. You may be turned down for a job, college admission, government aid, a loan or even a place to live if you have a criminal history. Fortunately, expungement means some Louisiana residents don't have to be penalized for the past.

Expungement makes a criminal record disappear from public view. That's not to say the record of an arrest or conviction – both appear in criminal histories -- vanishes altogether. Law enforcement agencies and other state-designated authorities can view the record, which is not deleted as much as it is selectively sealed.

Expungements are not automatic, free or available to everyone. An individual must file a motion, with or without an attorney's assistance, to have a record expunged. Fees attached to expungement filings vary from parish to parish and, in certain circumstances, may be waived.

Misdemeanor and felony arrests in Louisiana may be expunged, under specific conditions. Notice expungement laws focus on the removal of arrest records. Speak with a criminal defense attorney about instances when expungements are permissible for convictions with the successful completion of probation and adherence to provisions of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure.

You may petition for expungement when a misdemeanor or felony arrest did not result in a conviction. You may be eligible for expungement, if the state failed to prosecute you within prescribed time limits or if the criminal case or prosecution was dismissed. Arrests related to acquittals and motions to quash are also acceptable.

The expungement process takes about one year. However, in some cases, you may have to wait up to 10 years, before you can request expungement. A criminal defense attorney can tell you whether you are eligible for expungement and clear up any questions about long waiting periods for filing petitions.

Source: New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance, "Expungement in Louisiana: Your Questions Answered" Nov. 02, 2014

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