Expungement is a process by which an individual’s criminal record is treated as if it no longer exists. Every state has different limitations and options related to expungement.
However, all states do permit some form of expungement or record sealing for juvenile offenses. Although each state may differ regarding the qualifications and requirements for expungement, the eligibility for expungement will usually involve the following:
- An application for expungement in writing with the court where the conviction happened;
- The original sentence is completed, served, and finished; and
- The applicant does not have any new or additional criminal charges.
The burden is generally on the individual who is applying for expungement to show that their probation or other requirements are completed. Additionally, the application for expungement will typically only be good for one individual case, the case that they are applying to have expunged.
If the individual wants to have multiple charges or records expunged, they will be required to file separate applications. Once an individual has submitted all of their documents and forms requesting the expungement, the court will review the petition and determine if the individual is eligible for expungement.
It is important to note that individual courts often have additional procedures or additional requirements for expungement. There are two main categories of crimes that individuals may desire to have expunged, misdemeanor and felony offenses.
A misdemeanor crime is usually defined as a less serious crime that is punishable by a sentence of less than one year in a county jail and not a prison facility as well as criminal fines. In general, the majority of misdemeanors can be expunged from an individual’s record.
Examples of commonly expunged misdemeanor convictions include:
- Traffic crimes, especially first-time drunk driving or DUI charges;
- Various non-violent crimes;
- Simple theft-related crimes;
- Trespassing and vandalism; and
- Resisting arrest.
A misdemeanor expungement may help clear an individual’s criminal record. Expungement, however, cannot under certain penalties, for example, restoring lost gun ownership privileges or excusing the individual from penalties that involve registration on a sex offender list.
A felony crime is generally defined as a more serious crime that is punishable by more than one year in a prison facility, and not a jail facility, which includes higher criminal fines. Felony charges are, in general, more difficult to have expunged than most misdemeanor crimes.
There are some states that do not permit the expungement of any felonies. In certain states, there are only some felonies eligible for expungement. In general, the more serious the felony offense, the lower the chance that the offense can be expunged from an individual’s record.
More serious criminal offenses are associated with longer sentences and higher criminal fines than less serious criminal offenses. Typically, less serious felonies, for example, non-violent crimes such as possession of drugs, are more likely to be eligible for expungement.
Serious crimes that are not typically eligible for expungement include:
- Sexual offenses, such as rape or sexual assault;
- Felonies that involve victims younger than 18 years of age; and
- Other similar criminal offenses.
It is important to note that a federal conviction for a felony, in general, cannot be expunged. In some cases, however, a defendant may be granted a pardon in connection with a federal felony conviction.
Pardons typically only occur in very limited circumstances. In Hawaii, the expungement laws permit the removal of certain juvenile and adult criminal records from state databases, with limitations.
Sealing and Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records in Hawaii
Record sealing makes a record not available to the public without a court order. Pursuant to Hawaii expungement laws, juvenile records are automatically sealed.
In Hawaii, some juvenile records may be expunged once an individual reaches 21 years of age. An individual is eligible for expungement if their arrest or criminal charge did not result in a conviction.
A juvenile expungement must be requested in writing. The Family Court in Hawaii will review the request and either approve or deny the expungement.
If an individual needs assistance with a juvenile expungement process, they should consider consulting with a criminal defense lawyer.
Expungement of Adult Criminal Records in Hawaii
All adult expungements are handled by the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center. In Hawaii, an individual may expunge:
- The majority of adult felony and misdemeanor arrest records as well as criminal charges that did not result in a conviction;
- Convictions for first-time, drug-related offenses; and
- Convictions for DUI while under the age of 21.
However, an individual cannot expunge:
- Pending charges;
- Most convictions, other than first-time drug offenses and DUIs before the age of 21;
- Charges where the individual was acquitted due to insanity or mental incapacity; and
- Pardoned convictions.
If an individual has any issues, questions, or concerns with the Hawaii expungement process, they should consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer.
There are waiting periods for expungement for certain types of cases, including:
- If the individual made a Deferred Acceptance of Guilty or No Contest plea, they may request an expungement one year after its dismissal; and
- If an individual faced prostitution charges and made a Deferred Acceptance of Guilty or No
- Contest plea, they must wait four years after its dismissal.
After these waiting periods, an individual is permitted to file for expungement. To request expungement, an individual must file a form with the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center.
The form will vary depending on the individual’s claim. For expungement, an individual may require an:
The applicant must also attach specific court documents if they are trying to expunge a DUI or a first-time drug conviction. Once an individual’s request is filed, the Criminal Justice Data Center will review their request and either grant or deny the expungement.
Typically, an individual will receive a response from the Criminal Justice Data Center within four months of filing their request.
Associated Fees and Paperwork
In Hawaii, the filing fee for a first time adult expungement request is $35. Any additional expungement applications cost $50 each.
These fees also include a non-refundable $10 administrative fee. If an individual hires an expungement or a criminal defense attorney, they may also be required to pay attorney’s fees and other costs.
Implications of a Successful Expungement
If the Criminal Justice Data Center grants an individual’s petition, they may lawfully state that the expunged criminal record does not exist. In general, when an employer searches the individual’s Hawaii criminal record, the charges will not show up.
An expunged record, however, will still be available to law enforcement agencies. It is important to note that an expungement in Hawaii does not result in the destruction of an individual’s court records.
An individual may file a separate request to seal their court records, or to make them unavailable without a court order. If an individual needs help sealing their court records, contact an experienced lawyer.
Do I Need a Hawaii Expungement Lawyer for Help in Expunging My Criminal Records?
In order for you to completely seal your criminal records, it may be necessary to file multiple requests with the Criminal Justice Data Center as well as with the courts. A Hawaiian expungement lawyer can assist you throughout the expungement and sealing process.
In addition, your lawyer will represent you during any court hearings. Having the assistance of a lawyer will provide you with the best chance of fully expunging your record.