Expungement is a court-ordered process wherein the legal records of an arrest or criminal conviction are erased in the eyes of the law. If your case is the only one that can be considered a minor offense, you were not convicted, or you have completed your probation, you may want to consider having it erased for good. But how much does it cost to expunge a misdemeanor? Read on.
The Cost of Erasing a Criminal Record
A criminal record expungement cost can range from $100 to $600 for the filing and court costs alone, depending on the state and the nature of the case. The cost of hiring an attorney will also differ depending on where you file the expungement.
Usually, you get to pay $400 to $1,000 for an attorney’s fee for a single criminal charge. But take note that the amount that you pay will differ depending on the number and nature of your case.
Depending on the gravity of your record and how many cases you have had, the attorney’s fee may cost as much as $1,000 or even $10,000.
Expungement vs. Sealing
Expungement is one way to ensure that your old mistakes will not continue to harm your present and future reputation as well as your professional opportunities. If given the chance, you have every opportunity to start on a clean slate.
Strictly speaking, expungement means the records will be destroyed, which in effect makes it appear like they never happened at all. This is different from sealing, where the records will just be hidden from the public eye, but some agencies and even employers can still have access to them.
In Kentucky, an expungement certification, which is a report indicating what specific records are eligible for expungement, costs $40. On the other hand, it costs $75 in Florida for similar documentation.
Depending on the state, you would also need to pay a small amount for the notarization as well as for a fingerprint card that you need to take to the law enforcement agency. Once the court has granted your criminal record expungement, you will be asked to pay around $60 to $100 more.
If you have any pending payments from your previous conviction, you would also have to pay them beforehand as well.
What Can Be Affected When You Have A Criminal Record?
A criminal record or even just a case filed against you but eventually dismissed or you being found not guilty can be a stain on your reputation that might ruin your quality of life. What are the different consequences of having this “stain” on your record? Here are some:
- Difficulty getting a job
- Job termination
- Likely to lose a child custody case
- Might not be allowed to own or carry a firearm
- Stagnant in a job position
- Might not be allowed to fly/live abroad
- Might be denied an apartment rental
- Might not qualify for student or college aid
- Might be charged higher for car and insurance
- Might not be allowed to vote
- Professional license might get revoked.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Expungement
The cost of expungement varies due to the following factors:
- The gravity of the case
Understandably, felony cases will cost more than a simpler misdemeanor. Felony cases represent the higher end of the cost of expunging criminal offense cases.
- Number of cases
A petition for expungement allows only a single criminal case per filing. If you want to expunge several cases, you must file every single one of them individually and pay the filing fee for each. The same goes for all other expenses like attorney’s fees and the like.
- Duration of the process
Some cases may take time to expunge. The longer the process drags on, the higher the cost you will incur along the way.
Each state has a different pricing scheme for expungement filing fees. It is best that you go to your local court to find out how much they charge for the filing of an expungement case. For example, in Maryland, you would only have to pay $30 for the court fee, which includes the filing of your petition to expunge your record.
On the other hand, Kentucky charges $300 for the filing fee while their legal fees can reach as much as $2,500. Salt Lake City charges $135 for the filing of the expungement case, while Texas charges $300 for the filing of the case.
- Whether you hire a lawyer or not
Expunging a case doesn’t necessarily require that you be represented by a lawyer. However, the thing with expungement proceedings is that a positive outcome is never guaranteed. Therefore, hiring a good lawyer increases your chance of being granted clearance from misdemeanor records.
- Attorney’s fee
Hiring a lawyer is one thing. Hiring a quality lawyer is another story altogether. This is especially crucial when trying to expunge a more serious felony and not just a simple misdemeanor.
Who Qualifies for Expungement?
Whether or not you can afford the expungement price, it is never guaranteed that everyone qualifies for the process. Here are a few bases for expungement qualifications:
- Your age – most states are lenient toward juvenile offenders. If you have been convicted as a minor, you have a stronger chance of being granted record expungement than adult felons.
- Type of conviction – the gravity of the crime also contributes to the granting of an application for expungement. First-time drug offenders who have completed rehabilitation and misdemeanors are usually given the utmost consideration as compared to heavier crimes. Courts are typically looking into convictions with no more than a 5 year imprisonment sentence.
- Your criminal records – courts will also look into whether you have a pile of cases on your record or not. This is because they will likely give leeway to those who are first-time offenders who have already served their sentences, those who have settled/paid fines, and those who have completed their rehabilitation.
- How long ago was the conviction – courts in some states also consider the amount of time that has passed since you were arrested or convicted. They may also set a specific period of time during which you shouldn’t have had any arrests or convictions.