How Can I Erase My Criminal Record

Have you been convicted of a crime and are hoping to get it cleared off your record? That process is known as an “expungement.” Expungement is a court-ordered processing which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is “sealed,” or erased in the eyes of the law. When a conviction is expunged, the process may also be referred to as “setting aside a criminal conviction.” The availability of expungement, and the procedure for getting an arrest or conviction expunged, will vary according to the state or county in which the arrest or conviction occurred.

An expungement ordinarily means that an arrest or conviction is “sealed,” or erased from a person’s criminal record for most purposes. After the expungement process is complete, an arrest or a criminal conviction ordinarily does not need to be disclosed by the person who was arrested or convicted. For example, when filling out an application for a job or apartment, an applicant whose arrest or conviction has been expunged does not need to disclose that arrest or conviction.

In most cases, no record of an expunged arrest or conviction will appear if a potential employer, educational institution, or other company conducts a public records inspection or background search of an individual’s criminal record.

An expunged arrest or conviction is not necessarily completely erased, in the literal sense of the word. An expungement will ordinarily be an accessible part of a person’s criminal record, viewable by certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is sometimes referred to as a criminal record being “under seal.” In some legal proceedings, such as during sentencing for any crimes committed after an expungement, or in immigration / deportation proceedings, an expunged conviction that is “under seal” may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

Advertisements

The Most Important Constitutional Right for a Criminal Defendant

One of the most important constitutional right a person facing a criminal charge is their right to a jury trial. The OJ Simpson jury trial in the early 90’s captivated American society and showed Americans the importance of their right to a trial by jury. The Constitution guarantees a right to a trial by a jury of our peers in all criminal prosecutions from minor offenses to the most serious. The jury is charged with finding the facts of a case and after carefully reviewing the evidence they are responsible for deliberating and rendering a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If a jury is unable to reach a verdict, then it is deemed to be a hung jury, and the defendant may or may not be re-tried. So one may ask, how are jurors selected?

Jury selection happens in two parts. The first part is, essentially, random selection. The state, city  or federal district will randomly pull names off of lists that the state keeps in the regular course of business. These lists could include a list of registered voters, a list of people who hold driver’s licenses, or a list of people receiving unemployment benefits.

Once your name is pulled from one of these lists, you will receive a notice in the mail informing you of the date you have to go to court. The rules can vary by state, but unless you have some pressing reason to miss the first day of jury service, you generally have to go.

The second step is known as jury selection and/or “voir dire.” Voir Dire refers to the second stage of jury procedures, and is the process by which the court and the attorneys narrow down the pool of jurors to the 12 people (in a felony case) that will decide the case. If it is a misdemeanor than the number of jurors selected is usually six in most states. The process for voir dire varies from state to state, and even from judge to judge. Sometimes, if the juror pool is too large, the judge will randomly pick some people and excuse them from duty after questioning them regarding their ability to serve as a juror in a criminal trial.

Normally, however, the judge and attorneys will interview each juror about their backgrounds and beliefs. Sometimes this happens in front of the rest of the jury pool, sometimes this happens in private. Each attorney has the chance to object to jurors. There are two types of objections: “peremptory challenges” and “challenges for cause.” When an attorney challenges a juror for cause, there was most likely something in the juror’s background that would prejudice them in the case. For example, it is likely that an attorney would not allow a retired police officer to sit on a jury that decides a police brutality case. Many times, the attorneys will not let a prosecutor or a defense attorney sit on a jury for possible bias. In federal courts, each side has an unlimited number of challenges for cause. Attorneys do not need to give reasons for peremptory challenges, but each side only gets a limited number of these types of challenges. Of course, an attorney is not allowed to use peremptory challenges based on the race or gender of potential jurors.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

The Role of The Defense Attorney

The Washington State Supreme Court, in State v. Fedorov, affirmed a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol where a police officer remained in a room while a defendant was a on a telephone call with a lawyer before consenting to a breath test. The Court held that the rule-based right to counsel under CrR 3.1 does not require absolute privacy for conversations with an attorney, and instead only requires an opportunity to contact an attorney.

So what is this right to counsel rule that a criminal defendant has and where does it come from?

A criminal defendant’s right to an attorney is found in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires the “assistance of counsel” for the accused in all criminal prosecutions. This means that a defendant has a constitutional right to be represented by, or have access to an attorney during all criminal proceedings, from the time an individual is arrested, through a jury trial. In certain scenarios, this right can go beyond a jury trial and attach through the first appeal upon a conviction. It also means that if the defendant cannot afford an attorney, in almost all instances the government will appoint one to handle the case, at no cost to the defendant.

The defense attorney’s role is of the most importance in almost every criminal case. The specific duties of an attorney vary depending on the nature of the charges and the case, but there are several key responsibilities of all defense attorneys regardless of the charge. Firstly, a defense attorney is responsible for advising the defendant of their rights and explaining the several different stages of a criminal proceeding. Secondly, the attorney must ensure the defendant’s constitutional rights were not violated during their contact with law enforcement and during all court proceedings.

Third, a defense attorney is responsible for advising the defendant of his or her rights and explaining what to expect at different stages of the criminal process. Furthermore, the defense attorney ensures that the defendant’s constitutional rights are not violated through law enforcement conduct, or in court proceedings. Moreover, a defense attorney is responsible for negotiating a plea bargain with the government, on the defendant’s behalf. Finally, from the arraignment to sentencing a defense lawyer is in charge of investigating facts and evidence, cross-examining government witnesses, objecting to improper questions and evidence, and presenting any legal defenses.

Courts have interpreted the Sixth Amendment right to counsel as guaranteeing the “effective assistance of counsel” to criminal defendants. It doesn’t matter whether the attorney is hired by the defendant or appointed by the government. However, questionable strategic choices made by an attorney (and even serious lawyer errors, in some instances) do not usually cause a conviction to be thrown out, unless it is clear that the attorney’s incompetence affected the outcome of the case.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.