Any criminal conviction can have serious and life-long implications.Today's job market is incredibly competitive - a criminal conviction, however inconsequential or seemingly irrelevant, can be the difference between a dream job and unemployment. Additionally, a criminal conviction can have an effect on your ability to get Federal Student Loans, housing, a professional license, security clearance, etc. It is understandable that one of the most common questions I get is about "expunging" or erasing a criminal conviction.
If you are being held back by past conviction, I can help.
Unfortunately, in this digital era, you are never going to get all records from a case completely removed from the public eye; anything that was once on the internet is always going to be there. Now I am willing to bet this is a little disappointing, most people who are interested in expungement want their conviction “completely off” their record - as if it never occurred. Realistically, this is just not going to happen. Even if you could erase all the records from the internet, Idaho, unlike many other states, only permits expungement in a few, very specific circumstances:
- Any person who was arrested or served with a criminal summons and who subsequently was not charged by indictment or information within one (1) year of the arrest or summons.
- And any person who was acquitted of all offenses arising from an arrest or criminal summons may have the fingerprint and criminal history record taken in connection with the incident expunged upon that person's written request. (This does not include cases where the charges were amended or dismissed, you must be acquitted at trial.)
- Any person convicted of a juvenile offense
Unless you fall into one of these categories, you are not eligible for expungement (call you local state legislator to complain, not me). A search for your case on the Idaho State Repository, now becoming iCourts, will always show a record of your case.
The closest thing to expungment that Idaho offers for cases that do not fall into one of the 3 categories listed above is sealing the records of a case. Physical and electronic records may be temporarily or permanently sealed or redacted by order of the court on a case-by-case basis. The party must file a motion to seal and then the court must hold a hearing on the motion to seal. In ruling on whether specific records should be disclosed, redacted, or sealed the court must determine and make a finding of fact as to whether the interest in privacy or public disclosure predominates. Before a court may enter an order redacting or sealing records, it must also make one or more of the following determinations in writing:
- That the documents or materials contain highly intimate facts or statements, the publication of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, or
- That the documents or materials contain facts or statements that the court finds might be libelous, or
- That the documents or materials contain facts or statements, the dissemination or publication of which would reasonably result in economic or financial loss or harm to a person having an interest in the documents or materials, or compromise the security of personnel, records or public property of or used by the judicial department, or
- That the documents or materials contain facts or statements that might threaten or endanger the life or safety of individuals, or
- That it is necessary to temporarily seal or redact the documents or materials to preserve the right to a fair trial.
Even if your situation falls under one of these 5 categories, Idaho courts are generally unwilling to seal a case except under very VERY rare circumstances. Don't be surprised if this is a long shot at best.
Even if the Idaho records were sealed or expunged, there would be a record on the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This is a national database that only law enforcement personnel have access to, but that record lists every arrest and every charge in your history. It is very rare for these records to ever get expunged or erased.
However, this does not mean your record is stuck looking the way it does forever!
The good news is that in Idaho, you get one Withheld Judgment. ONE. If you plead guilty to a charge, whether misdemeanor or felony, you can ask the court to grant you a Withheld Judgment. This means that the Court will never actually enter a judgment of conviction against you. The case will behave as if you were convicted, this is not a get out of jail free card - you will still have to complete any punishment and probation the court orders in the case - however, after you have successfully completed probation, you can ask to have your case dismissed. The true advantage to a Withheld Judgment is that it allows you to honestly say that you have not been convicted of a crime.
Even if you were not granted a Withheld Judgment In Idaho, you can have your case dismissed based on Idaho Code 19-2604. Pursuant to this statute, if you successfully completed your probation without issue and you can show good cause, you may have your case retroactively dismissed. This means that instead of "Guilty" the record will read "Dismissed By Court." While this might not completely erase all record of the case, I have had a very high success rate with this option. It is effective in cleaning up my client's records and it is relief that the court is willing to provide.
Reduction From A Felony To A Misdemeanor
The last option that I believe is worth perusing is a reduction in the conviction. If you were convicted of a felony you may be eligible to have the case retroactively reduced to a misdemeanor. Again, this will not completely erase all record of the case but removing a felony conviction can drastically change your life. This is also relief that the court is typically open to granting as long as the defendant completed probation without issue.
Gun Rights Restoration
Many of the people interested in cleaning up their record are seeking to have their gun rights restored. You lose your right to own, purchase, or possess a gun when you are convicted of any felony or a misdemeanor domestic violence offense. In order to restore these rights you must petition the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole. Unfortunately, this is not a quick process and can take years to complete. However, the help of an attorney may speed up this process. I have assisted many people through this process and have a high rate of success. If you are interested in restoring your gun rights, call me for a free consultation.
After adjudication a juvenile who has not been convicted of any excluded crime, AND has not been convicted of a felony, or of a misdemeanor wherein violence toward another person was attempted or committed since the termination of the court's jurisdiction or his release from the juvenile corrections center, AND that no proceeding involving such felony or misdemeanor is pending or being instituted against him, AND if the court further finds to its satisfaction that the petitioner has been held accountable, is developing life skills necessary to become a contributing member of the community and that the expungement of the petitioner's record will not compromise public safety - it shall order all records in the petitioner's case in the custody of the court and all such records, including law enforcement investigatory reports and fingerprint records, in the custody of any other agency or official sealed, and shall further order all references to said adjudication, diversion or informal adjustment removed from all indices and from all other records available to the public.