A criminal record can create a number of obstacles, especially if you’re searching for housing or employment. One bad decision from your past could follow you for the rest of your life. Fortunately, you may be able to seal your legal history, which will remove it from public record. Here are three important benefits of having a criminal record sealed:
1- Employment and Licensing Benefits
A criminal record can be a major barrier when finding employment. Employers are often discouraged from discriminating against applicants with a record. However, many employers will choose an applicant without a criminal record over an applicant with one. Even if your arrest or criminal charge was from decades ago, you may find yourself being passed over for jobs time and time again.
A sealed record will not appear on most employment background checks. Certain employers, such as your state’s Department of Education or Department of Family Services, can and will access sealed records. Certain healthcare positions may require background checks that access sealed records, too. However, with most private organizations, your sealed record will not be visible. In most states, you can also answer “no” when applications ask if you’ve ever been arrested or charged.
A criminal record can also interfere with an application for a professional license. For example, when you apply for an engineering license or real estate license, the licensing board may conduct a background check. In most cases, sealing your record will allow you to apply for or renew a professional license with no issue.
2- Housing Benefits
Many landlords and property management companies perform background checks on prospective tenants. Even if you have a great rental history and a high income, you might be disqualified due to a criminal record. Sealed records do not appear on housing background checks, though.
You also can’t be disqualified from public housing if your record is sealed. Public housing can be a valuable resource if you’re trying to get back on your feet. With a sealed record, you can answer “no” if a public housing application asks you about prior arrests or convictions.
3- Easier Than Expunging
A sealed record is inaccessible to most entities, but the record still exists. Expungement, on the other hand, erases any record of the arrest or charge ever occurring. Expunging your record can be even better than sealing it, but it’s also far more difficult to achieve.
Both sealing and expunging involve filing a petition with your local court. The court will review and investigate the request, and the judge may hold a hearing if more information is needed. Courts are more likely to grant a request to seal a record than to expunge one. Your defense attorney may recommend that you pursue sealing your record as the process can be faster and easier.
Sealing a legal record offers a number of advantages. It allows you to overcome many of the obstacles that could have held you back before. If you have a criminal record that you believe should be sealed, contact a defense attorney to discuss your options.