What is an expungement?
For all information on this subject, check out the expungement statutes in The Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure, Articles 971-996. The Articles include definitions of terms, eligibility information and a description of the forms required for filing. You can access the LA Criminal Code online here.
Louisiana defines “expunging a record” as, “removing a record of arrest or conviction, photographs, fingerprints, disposition, or any other information of any kind from public access pursuant to the provisions of this Title.” Expunging a record does NOT mean the record is destroyed.
Why get an expungement?
There are a variety of reasons you should consider expunging your criminal record. Records of your arrests and/or convictions can be problematic when applying for college and requesting federal student financial aid. Your criminal record may also prevent you from being eligible for housing opportunities and employment. You may also be denied from volunteering or chaperoning your children’s school events. Even if your case was not prosecuted, dismissed or you were acquitted, your arrest will remain on your record.
Once an expungement is granted, the Code allows, “no person whose record of arrest or conviction has been expunged shall be required to disclose to any person that he was arrested or convicted of the subject offense, or that the record of the arrest or conviction has been expunged.” (not applicable to the persons/entities that can still view the expunged record, see below).
Is my case eligible?
Most non-violent felonies and misdemeanor cases are eligible for an expungement. In most cases, you will have a waiting period before you’re eligible to file. If an Article 893 or Article 894 deferred sentence was granted, there may be no waiting period before filing. Even if your case was not prosecuted, dismissed or you were acquitted, an expungement is still necessary to clear the arrest from your criminal record. You are eligible for immediate relief if your case was dismissed by the prosecutor or you were acquitted.
Federal cases are not eligible for clearing from your record; there is no federal statute that allows for an expungement.
After the expungement, will anyone be able to see the record?
Yes. There are a list of agencies that will still have access to the expunged record. A more thorough list is listed in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 973 B. The list includes: Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, Louisiana State Board of Nursing, Louisiana State Board of Dentistry, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners, and others. An expunged record will also still be available to law enforcement agencies.
What are the costs?
The costs vary by the case and the parish where you were arrested. Each agency that has a record of your arrest charges a fee for expungement. However, these fees can be waived in some situations. If your expungement is denied, your filing fees will not be returned to you. Instead of navigating this process alone, you should hire an attorney to assist you.