An expungement erases all references to a criminal charge from the public records. As a result, potential employers and others performing background checks will not see the charge. Job applicants need not disclose expunged charges or convictions. With an expungement, a criminal defendant can enhance the prospects of finding work, renting a house or apartment, and avoid being disqualified for permits.
While requirements vary by jurisdiction, generally a Letter of Reference for Expungement is not required to clear a charge that ended with an acquittal or dismissal. By contrast, many convictions cannot be expunged. However, in some states, less serious crimes can be cleared from the public record.
The Process for Getting an Expungement
Depending on the state, a judge or court order is required to expunge a criminal proceeding, including a conviction. The process starts with a petition, or request, to the court to expunge the particular criminal case. In most states, the clerk or court records office carry forms to make the request.
Upon filing, the petitioner undergoes a criminal background check. With the criminal record review, the court determines matters such as whether the petitioner has already received an expungement or has a prior criminal conviction that disqualifies the petitioner.
The Letter of Reference
Expunging a criminal conviction usually requires, as part of the petition, character references to tout the applicant's good behavior and reputation. Normally, these references cannot be a spouse, parent, son or daughter, or other relative of the petitioner. Instead, those seeking expungements may find a former co-worker, friend, teammate, clergy member of the petitioner's church or house of worship, a teacher or even a former employer.
The character reference either takes the form of an affidavit or a Letter of Reference for Expungement. In the writing, the person providing the reference states that he or she knows the petitioner, the relationship or how the petitioner is know, that the petitioner is of good behavior and has a good reputation in the community. Additionally, the letter may include facts about the petitioner.
The reference letter should avoid criticizing the judicial system or the judge and avoid questioning the conviction.
Sample Character Reference Letter for Expungement
Name of Writer
Address of Writer
City, State, Zip Code
The Honorable Judge FIRST NAME LAST NAME
Address of Judge
City, State, Zip Code
RE: Letter of reference for expungement
Dear Judge LAST NAME:
This letter is a formal reference letter to request to have the court expunge the criminal record of Name of Person. I have known Name of Person since his birth as I attended college with his mother and was a Maid of Honor in her wedding. He is requesting that a felony conviction for possession of cocaine twelve years ago be expunged from his record as it is negatively impacting all of his job applications because of criminal background checks.
He served a jail term of 18 months and has had no further problems with drugs or the law. He considers his conviction the result of youthful carelessness and has no intention of being in any way involved with illegal drugs in the future. After he was released from prison, he attended community college and received a diploma in network administration. However, whenever he applies for a job, they refuse because he has a criminal record.
I have watched him these last 10 years improve his life and would like to help him get the second chance he deserves. If you have any questions, I can be reached at Phone Number or at Email Address.
Thank you in advance for considering my request.
Signature of Writer
Printed Name of Writer
By Andre Bradley