Oxford, MS Expungement Attorneys
Having a criminal record can feel like walking around with a weight on your chest—no matter what you do or how much time has passed, your record can continue to hold you back and inhibit your ability to get certain jobs, pursue various opportunities, and more. In many cases, a person will have a criminal record for a crime that they were never even convicted of; even if you’re not convicted, the incident will still show up on an arrest record.
At the office of Smith Murphy Law, we believe in second chances. If you have something on your criminal record that’s holding you back, our law firm may be able to help. Reach out to us to learn more about the expungement process in Mississippi today.
What Is an Expungement?
Expungement refers to the legal process of erasing, sealing, or clearing a record. In some states, expungement and sealing are different: expungement is the process of officially deleting the record permanently, whereas sealing is the process of hiding the record from the eyes of most people and entities, other than law enforcement and judicial officials.
In Mississippi, the term “expungement” is used to refer to the process of removing all records associated with a criminal case. Note, however, that the district attorney’s office will still have a non-public record of the crime. This means that while an employer will not be able to view anything associated with the crime when looking up your criminal record, the state will have the ability to continue to see the record.
What Can Be Expunged from a Criminal Record?
Having a criminal record expunged can open the door to opportunities. However, record expungement in Mississippi is not available to everyone. Only the following offenses can be expunged from a criminal record:
- Most First-Time Misdemeanor Offenses. As found in Mississippi Code Annotated Section 99-19-71(1), any misdemeanor conviction other than a traffic offense can be expunged if the defendant in the case is a first offender.
- Some Felony offenses. Some felony offenses are eligible for expungement in Mississippi, as found in Mississippi Code Annotated Section 99-19-71(2)(a). However, only certain felonies are eligible and there is a five-year waiting period after the completion of a sentence.
Types of felony offenses that are eligible for expungement include:
- Malicious mischief
- False pretense
- Possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia
- Bad check offense
Note that if you were under 21 at the time of your felony offense, then you can request an expungement for a broader list of crimes. However, certain violent felonies, including rape, murder, manslaughter, and burglary cannot be expunged, regardless of your age at the time of conviction.
Dismissed cases, dropped charges, no disposition. In addition to the misdemeanor and felony convictions listed above for which expungement is possible, you can also seek an expungement if you were arrested for a crime, but the charges were dropped, the case was dismissed, or there was no disposition of the case.
The Expungement Process in Mississippi
If you are thinking about filing a petition for expungement in Mississippi, the first step is to meet with a qualified attorney who can verify your eligibility for expungement.
Once you have verified that you are eligible for expungement, the next step is to request copies of all of your criminal records from the courts. You will need these records when filing your expungement forms.
Once you have your record, fill out the correct forms. Note that the specific forms you need to file with the clerk will depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, there is a different form for expungement in cases of acquittal and release than there is for criminal convictions.
Once your forms are filled out in full, review them with your attorney to make sure they have been filled out correctly and that any required attachments have been adequately prepared.
Finally, you will submit your forms and pay your filing fee. The cost of your filing fee may also depend on the specifics of the expungement you are seeking. Under Section 99-19-72, the filing fee for expungement of certain offenses is $150; however, filing fees may differ depending on the reason for the expungement and the jurisdiction.
The Benefits of Record Expungement
The truth is, no matter how much time has passed and regardless of the details of your criminal record—whether you were arrested and the charges were dropped or you were convicted of a misdemeanor felony and served your time—having a criminal record at all can shape the way others view you.
An employer may choose not to hire you because of your record, or you could be denied volunteer or educational opportunities. Simply having a criminal record could leave you feeling anxious or concerned about someone running a background check on you and discovering this.
Criminal record expungement is an opportunity to give yourself a fresh start. When your record is expunged, it will be sealed and hidden from view from the public. This provides you with peace of mind and a clean slate.
How a Mississippi Expungement Attorney Can Help
Even if expungement is available to you, the process of filing for an expungement and understanding the various procedures associated with the type of expungement you are pursuing can be complicated and confusing. When you work with an experienced Mississippi criminal defense attorney, your attorney will be responsible for reviewing your record, advising you on your case, determining your eligibility for expungement, preparing your application, managing your filing, and representing you before the court if necessary. While working with an attorney is not a legal requirement, it is something that could significantly improve the chances of a favorable outcome for your case.
Call Smith Murphy Law Today
At the office of Smith Murphy Law, we understand what you’re going through when you have a criminal record that’s holding you back. If you are interested in learning more about expungement and your rights to have your record erased from the public view, call us directly today at 662-832-7879 or send us a message online. We are here to advocate for you.