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Steps to Expunge a Felony Conviction

UPDATED: August 4, 2020

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The least you should know...

  • Not all felony convictions qualify for expungement. It depends on the crime and the sentence.
  • Qualifying felonies typically can be expunged by filing a petition.
  • Before filing a petition to expunge a felony conviction, many states require that a certain number of years have passed after the conviction and/or discharge from probation.
  • The cost to get a felony expunged includes attorney's fees and court costs.

Having your conviction expunged will show that you were rehabilitated. Typically, expungement is only available after completing felony probation.

The steps to expunge a felony conviction first require determining whether the felony qualifies and then the filing of a petition with the court. Sometimes the process for expunging a criminal record can be a simple process, but some expungement cases require the help of a criminal lawyer. 

To begin your search for a criminal law attorney, enter your ZIP code in our search tool

How to Expunge a Felony: Qualifying

 Can you expunge a felony conviction? The answer depends on another question: can all felonies be expunged? The answer is no, only qualifying felonies can be expunged.

If your prior felony conviction was for a lower-level offense like theft, you have a better chance of expunging your records.

What felonies cannot be expunged?

If your conviction was for a higher-level type of offense, like aggravated assault or sexual assault, expungement may not be available for your felony conviction.

Can you expunge a felony drug conviction? 

Again, that depends on the classification of the drug crime. A conviction for drug possession (possession of a controlled substance) may be easier to expunge than possession with the intent to distribute. A felony drug charge can be expunged, but whether a specific charge will qualify depends on the charge, punishment, and state where expungement is sought.

The type of sentence that you received will also influence your qualification for expungement. If you were sentenced to prison, many states will never allow you to successfully expunge your felony. If you received a probation sentence, you will have a better chance of expunging your criminal conviction.

The reason this makes a difference is partially that in order to have your felony expunged, many states require that you successfully completed probation and paid all fines and retribution before you qualify for expungement. If you were sent to prison, this may automatically disqualify you.

In some states, though, you may still be able to expunge a felony where you served prison time if you can show that a lengthy amount of time has passed without new criminal charges and that you are a contributing, law-abiding member of society. If you served time in prison, you should contact a criminal lawyer who handles expungements to find out if your state allows expungement under these circumstances.

Timing of Your Felony Expungement Petition

If your felony qualifies for expungement, your next logical question is how to expunge a record. The expungement process requires the filing of a petition.

But there is a timing requirement for filing a petition, so you need to decide when you can file. Filing a petition for expunction before you qualify will only result in money wasted on a filing fee.

So, when can a felon get his record expunged? Before you can expunge a criminal conviction, many states require that you wait until the statute of limitations has run on your sentence or a certain number of years have passed after your discharge from probation. So, finding out the answers to those questions will affect how long it takes to expunge a record.

Petitioning to Expunge a Felony: How do you get a felony removed from your record?

After you have met the timing requirement, you should then file a petition for expunction. Most states will require you to send notice of your request to the original law enforcement agency, the district attorney’s office that handled your case, and the state agency that manages criminal histories for your state (like the Department of Public Safety).

You should attach any required documents to your petition. Some states, like Illinois, use an expungement worksheet to help petitioners figure out if their criminal offenses can be expunged. The worksheet helps you maintain and list your entire criminal record in one place.

After all the relevant parties have received your request to expunge your felony conviction, you should request a hearing with the court. If you don't, your case likely won’t be heard.

You have the burden at the hearing of proving that you qualify to have your felony conviction expunged. The procedure to expunge a felony can take between three months to almost a year depending on the court and the severity of your case.

Cost to Get a Felony Expunged

How much does it cost to expunge a felony? Attorney's fees to expunge a felony are usually between $1,000 and $2,500, and is inclusive of all costs associated with your expunction including court appearances, but does not include court costs or filing fees.

Many people ask how can I get my record expunged for free?

If you can prove your financial inability to pay the filing fees and court costs, there may be legal aid clinics in your area that are aware of the process for waiving court costs and may be able to work with you to handle the process without paying attorney's fees.

How much does it cost to expunge a felony in Texas?

Expunging a felony conviction in Texas can cost more than $3,000 in attorney fees and $600 or more in court costs. However, Texas allows multiple arrests and convictions to be appealed at once. Expungement costs for a misdemeanor are therefore the same but can be expunged at the same time as felonies.

How much does it cost to get your record expunged in Florida?

Expunging a felony conviction in Florida is much less expensive than the same process in Texas. The application fee is $75, and court costs generally don't exceed $75. Attorney's fees are going to be the most expensive part of the process, but you can likely find an experienced Florida expungement attorney to represent you for less than $1,000.

How much does it cost to get your record expunged in Ohio?

In Ohio, the court costs are usually only $50 and an applicant can request expunging multiple convictions in the same motion. If you want to have your conviction sealed in Ohio, there are no court costs at all.

As in most other states, the attorney's fees for expunging a felony in Ohio are the most expensive cost. 

A lawyer can also advise you as to alternatives to expungement. For example, if your felony conviction does not qualify to be expunged, you may still be able to obtain some relief by requesting a petition for non-disclosure. This type of petition may also help prevent employers from having access to your felony conviction.

The procedures are generally the same as those for expungement, though not always, as in Ohio, mentioned above.

Remember that you can seek assistance from legal aid or other indigent service providers, however, and may be able to represent yourself.

Get Help

Expunging a felony conviction is the right step in the rehabilitation process but not all felonies will qualify and it's not easy to know when or how to expunge a felony.

You can also have a conviction sealed, which may be easier and less costly. Typically the cost of expunging a felony includes court costs. In some cases, an application fee is also required. If you hire an attorney, those costs are often the largest part of the expenses of a felony expungement.

If you need guidance to expunge a conviction, contact a criminal lawyer for help. A criminal attorney in your area can walk through the requirements specific to your state and jurisdiction. You can search for felony expungement attorneys in your area by entering your ZIP code in our search tool and searching for criminal lawyers.

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Call us today for a free consultation (855) 466-5776