An expungement removes a criminal offense from your record for most purposes—making it easier to get a job, housing or an education.
In Mississippi, juvenile records may be sealed under certain circumstances. Once a criminal record is sealed, it is only available for public viewing with a court order. Courts may seal records any time at their discretion. However, juvenile records are always sealed once you turn 20 years old, or if the charges are dismissed or set aside.
To request an expungement, you must file a series of forms with the courts. Unlike some states, Mississippi does not have standardized expungement forms. You may be able to get court-specific forms from its clerk. Alternatively, contact a lawyer for help drafting and filing expungement documents.
Once you file the appropriate paperwork, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, you may present testimony and evidence supporting your claim. Based on all the evidence, the judge will issue a decision either granting or denying your expungement.
You may expunge a variety of criminal records in Mississippi, including some adult felonies, misdemeanors, and arrest records. The criteria for expungement vary, depending on the severity of your crime.
Mississippi law permits a one-time expungement of certain felony convictions. These felonies include:
- Drug possession,
- Bad check offenses,
- False pretenses,
- Shoplifting, and
- Malicious mischief.
You cannot expunge violent crimes or sexual offenses. You must wait five years after completing the terms of your sentence. If you were under the age of 18, additional felonies may be expunged. If you have questions about a felony expungement, contact a lawyer for help.
Most misdemeanor convictions in Mississippi are expungeable. However, the process varies, depending on whether you are a first-time or repeat offender. To be eligible for a first-time misdemeanor expungement, you must:
- Have evidence of good behavior for the past two years, and
- Have a good reason for your expungement.
Additional misdemeanor expungements may only be expunged if you were acquitted, the charges were dismissed, or you successfully completed a court-ordered diversion program.
A different set of rules applies for DUI convictions. You may expunge a DUI if you:
- Were a first-time offender without subsequent DUI charges or convictions,
- Five years have passed since you successfully completed the terms of your sentence,
- Do not hold a commercial driver’s license,
- Did not refuse a blood or breath test,
- Your blood alcohol level (BAC) was below 0.16%, and
- Have good cause for your expungement.
Mississippi DUI convictions impose significant restrictions, including driving restrictions. A DUI expungement removes these requirements. If you have questions about expunging a DUI, consider speaking with a DUI or expungement lawyer.
You also expunge arrest records that did not result in a conviction. This includes charges that were:
- Did not result in charges within one year,
- Resulted in an acquittal, or
- Were resolved through pretrial diversion program.
Both misdemeanor and felony charges may expunged in these circumstances.
Filing fees and costs vary, depending on the severity of your criminal record. Typically, the filing fees range from $85 to $150. If you hire an expungement or criminal defense lawyer, you may also be charged for attorney fees and other costs.
If the court grants your petition, you may lawfully state that the expunged criminal record does not exist. When most employers and landlords search your Mississippi criminal record, the charges will not be present. Expunged records will still be available to law enforcement agencies.
In order to expunge a criminal record, you must submit specific paperwork and may have to attend a hearing. A criminal lawyer or expungement lawyer can help guide you through the expungement process and insure that you have the correct information in your request. Additionally, a lawyer can speak on your behalf during any necessary court hearings and give you the best chance of expunging your record.