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How long does a misdemeanor stay on someone’s record?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Misdemeanors |

Defendants often wonder how long a misdemeanor will remain on their criminal records. The answer to this question can vary significantly depending on numerous variables.

Understanding how the justice system treats misdemeanors can help one gauge the long-term impact of a conviction stemming from a small transgression.

Basic rules about misdemeanors

Typically, a misdemeanor will stay on a person’s criminal record indefinitely. Thus, it does not simply disappear after a particular amount of time. This mark may influence job opportunities, housing applications and eligibility for certain licenses. However, the severity and type of misdemeanor can impact how others view this blemish.

The possibility of expungement

Although a misdemeanor generally does not automatically go away, there are provisions for removing a criminal mark, legally known as expungement. This seals or erases a criminal record from public view. If someone expunges a crime, it is as if it never happened, at least in the eyes of the public.

How to qualify for expungement

Eligibility for expungement varies depending on several factors, including the nature of the misdemeanor, the individual’s criminal history and the amount of time since the conviction. Expungements are more likely for first-time offenses and crimes committed by juveniles after they reach adulthood. New York restricts expungement to minor convictions, such as low-level drug possession or disorderly conduct.

Generally speaking, qualifying for expungement requires applicants to demonstrate the completion of sentencing requirements, such as serving jail time, paying fines or finishing probation. Additionally, hopefuls often must show that they are clean of other crimes during a specific period.

Having a misdemeanor can feel like constantly dragging a weight everywhere. Thankfully, relief is possible. Expungement offers a chance to let go of a past mistake and start fresh.