How long does a felony stay on your record?
How long does a felony typically stay on your record? Are there things that you can do to decrease this amount of time? Who ultimately decides when it is removed?
There is a difference between being charged, arrested and convicted and each can remain on your record for a different length of time. Charges, arrests, court dates, misdemeanor and felony convictions will stay on your record until they are expunged. In order to have a record expunged (removed from public record) requires a petition to the state and/or jurisdiction in which the crime was prosecuted.
Criminal records are considered public record and kept at various governmental levels: local (city or county), state and federal. Additionally, law enforcement agencies share their criminal record databases with other related law enforcement agencies. Although it is public record, not just anyone can request to see your criminal record. Persons are allowed to view your record if you have given consent, for example to a potential employer, and of course, each person may request to see their own record. Additionally, records of deceased persons are open to the public.
Requirements and factors for expunging records include: time period between incident and expungement request, no current criminal investigations or incidents, number of priors, no convictions during waiting period, completed probation from conviction completed free of new criminal incidents, and completed terms of the sentence and/or served time. All of these requirements factor into the acceptance or denial of an expungement petition. Basically, the court system wants you the petitioner to demonstrate that they are fully rehabilitated. Depending on the type of felony and from which state the crime was prosecuted, many seek the help of a lawyer to take care of the formal paperwork and proceedings.
If you are acquitted of your charges, or win in appeals court, then of course, your record can easily be expunged. When a record is "sealed" or expunged, the charges, court files, arrest, detention and initial conviction (before winning an appeal) will be erased from public record. However, a guilty or no contest plea will stay on your record, and if you serve time, then it that will certainly be on your record. In some states, like Florida, a guilty plea or conviction cannot be expunged from public record.
After records are expunged, they will not be available in the public record at the local or state level. Criminal records continue to exist only at the federal level and can be accessed by federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For example, years after you have served your time or paid your debt to society, you want to apply for a government job that requires security clearance. The governmental agency will do a background search and they will be able to find any prior arrests, convictions, court dates/cases and time served by using the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which is maintained by the FBI.
Rights that are in Jeopardy after Serving Time
Ways of handling a permanent record