Removing a Sex Crime from a Criminal History

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What Is a Sex Crime?

Generally, a sex crime is any crime where the defendant sexually touched the victim in an unwanted or offensive manner; however states will differ in their exact definitions. "Unwanted" includes the victim’s inability to communicate his or her wishes. Therefore, sexually touching a drunken person constitutes a sex crime under this definition.

A person convicted of a sex crime will have that crime on his or her criminal record. In addition, under Megan's Law, sex offenders will have to register with their local law enforcement agency.

Can I Get Sex Crimes Removed from My Record?

Felony sex crimes cannot be removed from a record, and there is only a slim chance of getting a misdemeanor sex crime erased. This makes having a sex crime on record almost impossible to get a job paying above minimum wage or obtain professional licenses.

The process for getting crimes removed from a criminal record is called "expunging" the record. Legally, expunged records are either sealed or the court dismisses the charging document by setting aside a verdict of guilty. However, the record is generally never destroyed. Rules vary from state to state – in some cases, a dismissal will still appear on the record.

States generally allow the following to be expunged:

But in most states, any sexual activity involving a minor or child cannot be expunged. This includes:

A limited number of sex misdemeanors may be able to be expunged, such as sexual misconduct and lewd or lascivious behavior, depending on the circumstances of the case.

What about the Sex Offender Register?

Even if the sex crime is expunged, sealed, or dismissed, the person will generally have to remain registered as a sex offender long afterwards, or even for life, depending on the laws of the state. So, although a convicted sex offender may honestly reply on a job application that she has never been convicted of a crime if expunged, she will still have the sex offender registry to worry about.

Seeking Legal Help

If you need assistance clearing your record of past criminal offenses, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A local attorney will understand the nature of expungement proceedings in your area and be able to assist you through the process.

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Last Modified: 04-16-2014 12:42 PM PDT

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