Mississippi has strict laws regarding expungement or sealing of criminal records. You should consider obtaining an order of expunction if you are a Mississippi resident with a criminal conviction or arrest record because you may experience difficulties in securing employment, applying for a change in immigrant status, renting housing, obtaining a professional license, or obtaining consumer credit.
What Is Expungement or Record Sealing?
An expungement is a judicial process in which certain criminal offenses, arrest records, and juvenile records can be erased or sealed from public view, including background checks conducted by private employers, landlords, and lending institutions. If you successfully petition the court for an expunction order, you can lawfully state on any private employment, school, or rental application that you have never been arrested or convicted for any crime.
An expungement in Mississippi, however, does not result in the complete destruction of your record. If you apply for the military, for a professional license, or for employment in law enforcement, you must disclose your prior conviction along with stating that an order of expunction was granted.
Juvenile records can be sealed at any time by the youth court, once the minor has reached the age of 20, if the case has been dismissed or if adjudication of the case has been set aside. These records can be accessed at any time upon proper application to the youth court or the court’s own motion under certain circumstances, but they are otherwise unavailable to the public.
Are You Eligible?
First-time offenders of many misdemeanor offenses are eligible to petition the court for expungement, except for intoxicated driving offenses. Your arrest record for drunk driving or for any other charge may be expunged if the charges were dismissed or if there was no disposition. The list of offenses that may be expunged include drug possession, simple assault, resisting arrest, shoplifting, and disturbing the peace. Non-eligible misdemeanor crimes include violent crimes against persons or property or drug trafficking offenses.
For subsequent misdemeanors, you can only apply for an order of expunction if the charge was not adjudicated or was dismissed following your completion of court-imposed conditions. If you were able to have your drug charge disposed of in drug court, it is eligible for expunction.
Only six felony offenses may be expunged in Mississippi:
- Possession of controlled substances
- Bad check offenses
- False pretenses
- Malicious mischief
You are not permitted to expunge a criminal record with more than one conviction.
A Mississippi court has the option of granting you an order of expunction. Should you be denied, you may apply to the parole board for a pardon. The parole board will investigate your application and make a recommendation to the governor who has the final say on your pardon petition.
You can only apply after seven years has passed since the completion of your sentence and you have published in a newspaper for 30 days a notice of your application with the reasons why a pardon should be granted.
Pardons are extraordinary remedies, and few are granted each year. Generally, you must demonstrate that you have been an exemplary citizen since your release, have shown remorse for the crime, and have accumulated a record of success or achievement.
Although a pardon does not expunge your record, you do have basic civil rights restored to you, including your right to own and possess firearms, to serve in public office, and to practice law.
Consult a Mississippi Expungement Attorney
The laws and process of expungement are constantly changing. By consulting a Mississippi expungement or criminal defense lawyer, you can determine if your particular circumstances warrant expungement of your arrest or conviction records, or if a pardon is a viable option.