On July 15, 2016, House Bill 40, a new law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly, went into effect. The Bill expands the scope for expungement in Kentucky, allowing for certain Class D felony convictions to be expunged from an individual's criminal record.
Expungement is the legal process by which a person can ask for court records and arrest information relating to a criminal offense to be sealed by the courts. This prevents the arrest and conviction from appearing in any background checks. The new law allows more people who have completed their sentence to benefit from the process – and the benefits are numerous.
A criminal record can make it difficult to gain employment or housing and exclude a person from opportunities such as volunteering at their child's school. In some cases, merely having an arrest on your record – even if no charges were filed or you were found not guilty – can lead to discriminatory treatment from an employer or lender. If you were convicted of a crime and have completed your sentence, you may feel understandably aggrieved that you are continuing to be punished by being locked out of these fundamental aspects of life.
Expungement is more than a note to say that an offense should no longer be considered part of your criminal record – it completely erases and vacates the conviction, as if it had never occurred. Through this process of vacation, all records relating to the conviction will be deleted or removed from the computer systems of the courts and other agencies. This ensures that should any potential employer, lender or landlord make an inquiry, the offense will not appear on official state-performed background checks.
Expungement gives a second chance to those who have found it difficult to succeed after an arrest or conviction. The expanded scope provided by HB 40 has enabled even more Kentuckians to benefit from this opportunity. If your life has been affected by your criminal record, it is worth seeking the advice of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to find out if you are eligible for expungement.