Blog post written by Attorney Philip Adams:
While an expungement does not destroy a record of arrest and/or conviction in a criminal case, an expungement does conceal such a record from public view by most people and entities. The concealing of a record benefits the person with the record in multiple ways, including by giving the person with the record peace of mind in knowing that fewer eyes will be able to see details about that person’s past, by opening potential job opportunities for the record holder who may have previously been unable to obtain a job due to having an easily accessible record, etc.
Some people who have committed certain serious offenses in their past may not be aware of recent legislative changes that may afford them the opportunity to obtain an expungement with respect to those offenses. One recent change in Louisiana’s expungement laws occurred under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 978(E) and allows individuals with convictions for aggravated battery, second degree battery, aggravated criminal damage to property, simple robbery, purse snatching, or illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities to obtain an expungement if certain conditions are met. This type of expungement can only be obtained if a contradictory hearing occurs between the person seeking the expungement and the state’s attorney. At such a contradictory hearing, the person seeking an expungement, through his or her attorney, must prove the following conditions:
(a) More than ten years have elapsed since the person completed any sentence, deferred adjudication, or period of probation or parole based on the felony conviction.
(b) The person has not been convicted of any other criminal offense during the ten-year period.
(c) The person has no criminal charge pending against him.
(d) The person has been employed for a period of ten consecutive years.
Additionally, when filing the motion for an expungement for any of the previously mentioned offenses, the person must include a certification from the district attorney which verifies that, to his knowledge, the applicant has no convictions during the ten-year period and no pending charges under a bill of information or indictment. Finally, it bears mentioning that because all expungements are discretionary, trial court judges can deny a motion for expungement even if the above conditions are met, so there is never any guarantee that an expungement in such cases can ultimately be obtained. Despite such an uncertainty in outcome, expungements are still worth seeking for reasons previously mentioned.
The requirements above might seem onerous because they basically require ten years of good conduct by the person seeking to have the record cleared. However, these requirements serve to protect the general public and make sure that before society allows such a person to move past a serious offense and conceal such serious offenses from access by the public, the petitioner has to first demonstrate that he or she is worthy of being given a second chance. Article 978(E) clearly strikes a balance between giving some serious offenders an opportunity to move on with their lives and in protecting the public’s right to continue accessing records relating to such offenses if those serious offenders don’t demonstrate good conduct over an extended period of time.