Expunging a Conviction in Kentucky

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 What Does It Mean to "Expunge" a Criminal Record in Kentucky?

A criminal conviction is a formal judgment of guilt by an individual that is entered by a criminal court. A criminal conviction on a person’s criminal record can cause that individual many problems.

For example, criminal convictions may impact an individual’s:

  • Ability to become employed;
  • Right to obtain professional licensing;
  • Right to vote; and/or
  • Legal right to obtain or carry a firearm.

It is important to note that even if a criminal case does not result in a formal conviction, the record of the person’s arrest and the criminal prosecution will generally remain on that person’s criminal record. This record of arrest may also impact an individual, especially in cases in which the person seeks professional licenseship or to enlist in the military.

However, there are specific circumstances in which a person’s conviction or records of arrest can be sealed away. Sealing a person’s record means that their records are off limits to everyone but law enforcement personnel or the military. Alternatively, an individual’s criminal record may also be eligible for a legal process known as criminal expungement. Expungement is the legal process in which a person’s criminal file is completely removed from public record.

As of 2016 in the state of Kentucky, it became legal to expunge certain felony convictions in Kentucky. Before 2016, Kentucky misdemeanor expungement was still an option. This means that for misdemeanors that were on a person’s criminal record, a person could apply to expunge an unlimited number of misdemeanor charges. However, the waiting period for misdemeanor expungement in Kentucky is five years from the time in which an individual completes their sentence.

In situations in which a person was not found guilty of the misdemeanor or felony they were charged with, such as the charge being dismissed or the grand jury not indicting the individual, that Kentucky citizen may have the criminal record expunged after a one year period by filing the appropriate dismissal form in the criminal court that charged them initially.

Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records in Kentucky

Expunging a criminal conviction in Kentucky for juveniles is also available. Specifically, in the state of Kentucky, the juvenile, or their legal guardian if they are not of age, may seek to expunge most juvenile misdemeanor convictions, so long as the offense did not qualify as a felony not eligible for expunction.

This means that a juvenile or their legal guardian may file a Petition for Juvenile Expungement so long as:

  • At least two years have passed since the court ended its jurisdiction over the case or the juvenile was unconditionally released, and
  • The juvenile did not have subsequent convictions, adjudications, or pending charges.

Expungement of Adult Criminal Records in Kentucky

Once again, an adult may seek to expunge their criminal records in Kentucky that include misdemeanor charges, arrest records, and certain felonies. Specifically, most Class-D felonies in Kentucky are eligible for expungement. Additionally, in certain circumstances an individual may be eligible to expunge more than one Class-D felony.

Once the Class-D felony is expunged, an individual will have their voting rights restored, along with other similarly impacted rights, so long as the individual does not have any further felonies on their record. As far as the expungement process, that will vary depending on the type of arrest record or charge the individual is seeking to expunge.

However, all adult expungements will require an expungement certification, which is a form that is issued by the Kentucky State Police and Administrative Office of Courts.

Felony Expungements in Kentucky

As mentioned above, Kentucky residents may have certain felonies expunged from their records. Expungement laws in Kentucky allow individuals the opportunity to file a felony expungement form seeking expungement of a felony conviction, with their certificate of eligibility in the court in which they were convicted, as long as the felony is a Class-D felony.

For felonies in which a person was found not guilty, the charge was dismissed, or the grand jury did not indict the individual, records related to the felony criminal charges may be expunged from the person’s record after a three year period. Once again, there is no filing fee associated with the expungement and the person must file the appropriate dismissal form in the court of dismissal.

Misdemeanor Conviction Expungements in Kentucky

As discussed above, misdemeanor expungement laws in Kentucky allow for individuals to expunge an unlimited number of misdemeanor convictions. A person convicted of a misdemeanor must file the misdemeanor expungement form, along with the certificate of eligibility, in the dismissal court.

Additionally, there is a five year waiting period from the time the person completes their sentence, until they are eligible for an expungement. However, if there is an enhancement period associated with the misdemeanor, such as those tied to a DUI charge, they may not be eligible for expungement until the enhancement period is also completed.

Expunging Criminal Charges That Did Not Lead to a Conviction

As discussed above, the Kentucky expungement process provides a free method of expunging criminal charges that did not lead to a conviction. Specifically, if an individual was charged with a felony, but not indicted, they may expunge the criminal record 6 months after the court decided to present the issue to a grand jury. In order to expunge such a felony charge, the individual must file a Petition for Expungement along with an expungement certification. A hearing may also be necessary.

A Kentucky resident may also expunge arrest and other records if:

  • The charges brought against them were dismissed with prejudice; or
  • The individual was acquitted.

Associated Fees and Paperwork

As far as the filing fees and costs associated with expungement, the fees will vary depending on the severity of the individual’s criminal record. In general, an individual must pay a $500 filing fee for a felony conviction expungement and $100 for each misdemeanor conviction. Other costs associated with expunging a record include the expenses associated with obtaining an expungement certification.

Additionally, an individual may also seek to hire an experienced expungement attorney, which will also come with legal costs.

Once again, a Petition for Expungement will also have to be prepared and filed, which may also come with costs if the person petitioning for the expungement needs assistance. Failure to properly complete the petition will result in the expungement being denied, without a refund of the filing fees.

Implications of a Successful Expungement in Kentucky

As noted above, if the court grants an individual’s Petition for Expungement, that person may lawfully state that the expunged criminal record does not exist. As such, when most employers search for that individual’s Kentucky criminal record, the charges will likely not be present. However, there are many background search service providers that do not timely update their database.

As such, depending on the service provider utilized in conducting the search, the record may still appear. However, the individual may then present their expungement proving the record does not exist. It is important to note that a person’s expunged records will still be available to law enforcement agencies, and certain military organizations.

Consulting a Lawyer

As can be seen, the expungement process in Kentucky may often become complex if the person seeking the expungement has a lengthy criminal record. As such, if you are seeking a criminal expungement in Kentucky, it may be in your best interests in consulting with an experienced Kentucky expungement lawyer.

An experienced attorney will be able to assist you in obtaining an expungement, and represent you at any in person hearing, if necessary.

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