A person convicted of a misdemeanor in Idaho typically faces some combination of a fine, court costs, jail days with options, court-ordered classes, and/or probation. For some people, however, the greater punishment is having a misdemeanor on their criminal record forever. As we're well aware, criminal histories can hinder college admittance, job opportunities, volunteer opportunities, housing eligibility, etc.
Because of this, we're routinely asked, “Can you expunge or clean up my record?”
Generally, there are three ways to improve or “clean up” a record:
- Sealing, and
- Retroactive dismissals.
Expungement and Sealing
When a case is expunged, it's essentially put through a shredder and disappears. When a case is sealed, it's hidden from the general public but isn't deleted.
Because both of these options basically make a case disappear, they are the most sought-after ways to clean up a criminal record. However, the truth is, both of these options are so rare that almost nobody qualifies for them. To put things into perspective, over the past year, I have spoken to only person who potentially qualified for either. To see what you must prove to apply for expungement or sealing, visit here.
Just because you don't qualify for expungement or sealing, doesn't mean you're SOL. Your next best option is typically a retroactive dismissal. There's an Idaho statute that allows a person who previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor to apply to have the case dismissed so long as they meet certain criteria. Most of the time, you're eligible to apply for a dismissal if you successfully completed probation (or were not ordered to complete any probation at all) and can show “good cause” for a dismissal. If granted a dismissal, the case wouldn't disappear, but it would show "dismissed by court” instead of “guilty.” The difference between those two phrases can detrimental to potential employers performing a background check. In addition, if granted a dismissal, you can also say that there's no longer a conviction.
The process for obtaining a dismissal is not simple and requires an experienced attorney. It requires preparing and filing documentation with the court and sometimes a formal hearing before the judge. The whole process generally takes 4-8 weeks, and, although nothing can ever be guaranteed, our office has a very high success rate in obtaining retroactive dismissals.
Don't allow a conviction to stay on your record when you may be eligible to remove it. Call us today for a free consultation on whether you qualify for a dismissal.