Expungement is a legal procedure that destroys, strikes, or seals your criminal record. It may include documentation of your arrest, investigation, incarceration, and disposition of your case. Individuals who seek expungement of a criminal conviction may do so in Louisiana for certain circumstances and for juvenile offenses.
Because criminal charges and a record can be an obstacle to finding employment or housing, obtaining a professional license, enrolling in school, and negatively affect other life situations we take for granted, having your criminal record expunged or made inaccessible to the general public can mean a brighter future for you.
What Is Expungement or Sealing?
Generally, there is little difference between record expungement and sealing of records since both prohibit the general public from viewing your criminal record. In some states, record sealing is first required before an expungement is permitted. Both procedures allow you to state under oath or on employment, rental, or other similar applications or inquiries that you have never been convicted of a criminal offense.
An expungement order does not destroy adult criminal records; they may be accessed if you are charged with a subsequent criminal offense and used to enhance your sentence. Your record is also accessible to public licensing agencies in Louisiana, if you are seeking a professional license to become an attorney, psychologist, nurse, or physician.
Louisiana allows expungement of adult and juvenile records under certain conditions. There is no separate record sealing procedure. Juvenile records under most circumstances may be destroyed rather than sealed.
Are You Eligible?
Adults who have been found not guilty of a crime are eligible to seek an order of expungement, which entails the actual destruction of all records of their arrest, detention, and investigation. Adults convicted of a felony or misdemeanor may seek expungement if their charges were dismissed after successful completion of probation or the statute of limitations for prosecuting you has expired. These records are sealed and not destroyed. To be eligible, you must not have any other criminal convictions.
Felony records of sexual abuse of a minor, as well as arrest records for a first or second DUI, or driving under the influence of drugs, are also not eligible for expungement.
Juveniles over the age of 17 can obtain an expungement order under Article 918 of the Children's Code if no charge resulted in an adjudication, or if it was adjudicated as a misdemeanor, but no firearms were involved, and at least two years has passed since the most recent judgment.
For a juvenile felony, you can seek expungement of the judgment and all accompanying records after five years have passed from the most recent judgment, provided your offense was not homicide, manslaughter, kidnapping, armed robbery, or a sex crime.
What Do You Need?
If you are an adult with a misdemeanor, you must file a motion for expungement in the court where the conviction was entered or in the district court in the parish where you were arrested if no prosecution was initiated.
To expunge a record of felony arrest or dismissal, your motion is filed in the district court in the parish where you were arrested. You also must serve on the district attorney and the law enforcement agency that arrested you a mandatory request for a "contradictory hearing." At this hearing, you must demonstrate your entitlement to the expungement order.
If you are at least 17, you can file a motion for expungement of your juvenile records with the court having jurisdiction over your case and serve it on the district attorney, clerk of court, and head of the agencies that have access to, or possession of, your records. You must demonstrate grounds under Article 918 of the Children's Code.
If your criminal or juvenile record is preventing you from living a normal and productive life, contact a Louisiana expungement and record sealing attorney to see if your public criminal record qualifies for an expungement order.