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An “expungement” is the deletion of a conviction on a person's criminal record. Different states approach expungement differently. If you wish to seek expungement in any state it's important to collect all the necessary records you will need to show your immigration status before you contact a record sealing attorney or go to the courts.
Should I petition for an expungement?
According to Houston immigration attorney, David Breston, “If you have been convicted for a crime in the U.S and you are an immigrant, it's imperative you seek legal counsel before going to the courts with your case. If you have been convicted of even the smallest drug possession charge you could face deportation.”
Even if you’ve been convicted of a “non-deportable” offense (this can include a misdemeanor or non-violent crime) it’s still suggested that you seal your record in order to avoid trouble from down the road.
How will an expungement help me?
An expungement on your record will be very beneficial and can enhance several areas of your life. For example, having a clear record will come in handy if you’re trying to find a job. Many employers will think twice before they hire someone with a criminal record. Since this is public information they will be able to look up your name and run a background check.
In addition, if you get your record expunged, you will not be required to reveal your convictions or history to landlords. Employment and a solid living situation are crucial parts of having a stable life in the United States.
Should I hire a record sealing attorney?
Today's political climate has made it harder than ever to be an immigrant, let alone an immigrant with a criminal record. Non-US citizens living in the US probably know there has been heightened security at airports and a spike in the amount of people taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as, ICE.
Now, more than ever, having a clear record when you're an immigrant is especially important.
If you are planning to travel out of the country and you have a record, expect to be pulled into secondary when trying to get back into the US. The recent crackdown on illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds comes from a number of bills that were passed and backed by trump in the last few years.
As you can see, clearing up a criminal record for immigration purposes is beneficial to your future. If you plan on living in the U.S for a long time or eventually plan on becoming a citizen, it's recommended you expunge any negative records you have under your name.
The fear of being deported is a common worry for many immigrants. To combat this stress, it's helpful to have a skilled record sealing attorney by your side. Many criminal defense lawyers will offer a free consultation to help you get more information and take the next steps to expungement.
If you can’t afford legal representation, many states will allow you to seal your record without an attorney. All states have very specific laws regarding record expungement so it’s important to do your research on your state before you seek legal help. Some states offer free clinics to help guide you through the process.