Can I get a 20 year old felony expunged from my criminal record?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I recently went to rent an apartment and was denied due to my felony record. I live in the State of Vermont, and I am wondering if I can get my record expunged?

Overview of Criminal Expungement in Vermont

Expunging a criminal record does not erase the record, but it does eliminate the ability of the public to access it and view it, eliminating the ability of an employer or a landlord to deny employment or housing due to a felony record. In general, expungement will also eliminate your legal requirement to notify others of the felony arrest or conviction.

Can I request a criminal expungement?

Now, back to your question. Without more information about your case and your crime it’s difficult to say whether or not you will qualify for expungement, but let’s discuss the two requirements for a Vermont expungement.

First, to qualify to have your criminal record expunged in Vermont your crime will have to meet the definition of a qualifying crime. Next, it will have to have occurred a specific amount of time in the past. 

So what crimes qualify for expungement? Most misdemeanors can be expunged with the exception of the following: DUI, domestic assault, stalking, reckless endangerment, abuse, neglect or restraint of a vulnerable adult, certain prohibited sex crimes, and any attempt to commit the above misdemeanors.

You specifically mentioned you had been convicted of a felony. Unfortunately, the ability of criminals to expunge a felony are limited. Specifically, Vermont law currently only allows for the expungement of unlawful mischief with damage exceeding $1,000 and grand larceny.

How long ago were you convicted of your crime?

The next qualification is the amount of time which has passed since you committed the crime. Assuming your crime was a qualifying crime, you may be able to request an expungement of your criminal record if it has been at least 10 years since you finished your jail sentence or probation, you have not been convicted of any other crimes, you have paid all of the restitution due, and the court agrees that the expungement is in the best interest of justice.

What if I was arrested but not convicted of a crime?

Although this is not what you asked, there are many individuals who are arrested for a crime but never charged or convicted. Alleged criminals who have been arrested but not charged may be able to request an expungement of their criminal arrest record if they were arrested for a qualifying crime, no criminal charges were filed, and the statute of limitations has expired.

Those who are arrested and charged but not convicted may also qualify to have their criminal charges expunged if one of the following is true (Information below provided by Kenney and Fischer LLC):

  • No criminal charge was filed by the State and the statute of limitations has expired; OR
  • A charge was filed with the Court but the Court did not find probable cause or dismissed the charge at arraignment AND the statute of limitations has expired; OR
  • The charge was dismissed by the court prior to trial “with prejudice”; OR
  • The charge was dismissed by the court prior to trial “without prejudice” and the statute of limitations has expired; OR
  • You and the prosecutor have a signed agreement stipulating to expungement of the criminal records related to the charge. 

Bottom Line:

Although state law makers and other political figures have made arguments that punishing felons and other criminals their entire lives for crimes that may have been committed years in the past is counterproductive for society, states continue to limit the ability of most felons to expunge their criminal records. Unfortunately, this inability can lead to difficulty ever finding employment or adequate housing.

 

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