Getting Rid of a Sex Crime History
What Is a Sex Crime?
States will differ in their exact definition of a sex crime. In general though, a sex crime is any crime where the defendant sexually touched the victim in an unwanted or offensive manner. "Unwanted" includes the victim’s inability to communicate his or her wishes. As such, 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, Megan's law requires that sex offenders register with their state’s sex offender registry. The two are separate records.
Can I Get Rid of My Record of Sex Crimes?
Having a sex crime on record, particularly if it is a felony, can be a little like a life sentence, since it makes it almost impossible to get a job paying above minimum wage or obtain professional licenses. Generally, felony sex crimes cannot be gotten rid of, and there is only a slim chance of getting a misdemeanor sex crime erased.
Getting crimes thrown out of 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, but the record is never destroyed. Rules vary from state to state – in some cases, a dismissal will still appear on the record.
States generally allow infractions, violations, arrests, citations, and records of county jail time to be expunged after a successful probation period. However, it is more difficult to seal the record if there is an actual conviction. Some misdemeanor convictions can be expunged, but in most states, any sexual activity involving a minor or child cannot be expunged. This includes child pornography, showing obscene literature to a child, and luring or enticing a child.
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 (according to 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.
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Last Modified: 11-22-2013 03:45 PM PST
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