This information is not a substitute for legal advice. While an attorney is not needed to obtain an expungement, the help of an attorney or someone who has experience guiding others through the process is recommended. Take a look at JAC's summary of the changes to expungement law due to Act 145..
The moment an individual is arrested by the police and taken into custody, that individual has a criminal history, regardless whether the individual is charged with a crime. The consequences of a criminal arrest or conviction, known as collateral consequences, can be severe, unexpected, and long lasting. Even after an acquittal or the completion of any sentence imposed, the following can be affected:
The right to vote
Access to government benefits and assistance including: housing, Social Security benefits, food stamps, financial aid for college or technical training
An expungement is removal of a person’s history of criminal arrest from the public record. The process can be complicated and varies in every court. Unfortunately, there is no uniformity and transparency in the process. Obtaining an expungement can help to reduce the effect of collateral consequences.
As an individual navigates the system of expungements, there are some things that an expungement will not do:
Destroy or erase your records temporarily or permanently.
Remove the record from most government agencies reach. The State can use your arrest/conviction as a prior offense in future prosecutions against you.
Restore your driving privileges if your arrest/conviction lead to a suspension of your drivers license.
Relieve your responsibilities to register as a sex offender with the State.
Restore your rights to posses a firearm.
What is an Expungement?
“Expungement” means removal of a record from public access but does not mean destruction of the record. An expunged record is confidential, but remains available for use by law enforcement agencies, criminal justice agencies, and other state agencies as stated under Louisiana law.
Am I eligible to have my record expunged?
JAC strongly recommends that you download our free Clean Jacket mobile application from iTunes or GooglePlay. The app is free and will review the potential in having your record expunged. Learn more about our mobile application here.
Can Federal arrest records be expunged?
An arrest for simple drug possession when under 21 years old may be expunged. Other arrests on Federal charges are not possible to expunge, unless the case ended with an acquittal or exoneration.
Can I have my juvenile arrest records expunged?
JAC recommends speaking with a juvenile advocate, such as the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights.
I received a first offender pardon does that automatically expunge my record?
No. There are two kinds of pardons both of which restore certain rights. An automatic pardon is given to first time offenders in Louisiana (some crimes are excluded from eligibility). An automatic first offender pardon does not prevent the State from using your record against you in the future, nor does it seal the record from public view. A full govenor’s pardon, however, prevents your records from being used against you at a later time for subsequent convictions and returns the accused to the state he was in prior to arrest.
How long do I have to wait to apply for an expungement if I was never prosecuted?
Applications may be filed immediately following an acquittal or successful motion to quash.
If the time limit for prosecution has run out and the District Attorney dismissed or refused prosecution, then an application for expungement may be possible. Generally, the DA has a specific amount of time after the date of the offense within which he must institute charges. They are as follows:
No limit: Crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment
10 years: Sex crimes against juveniles
6 years: Felonies punishable by imprisonment and hard labor
4 years: Felonies not necessarily punishable by imprisonment or hard labor
2 years: Misdemeanors punishable by fine or imprisonment
6 months: Misdemeanors punishable by fine
How do I apply for an expungement?
An expungement requires the Court's approval. There are uniform forms that all courts must use. Fill out the required forms and submit them to the Court with a background check that was acquired within thirty (30) days of the filing date. For example, if you are filing your expungement on January 30, 2015, then your background check must not be issued before January 1, 2015 and must be issued on or after January 1, 2015.
How much does an expungment cost?
The cost of expungement is $550. This amount must be paid in full at the time of filing because several agencies will recieve a portion of this cost. They are as follows: $250 goes to the Louisiana State Police, $200 goes to the Criminal District Court Clerk, $50 goes to the parish District Attorney, and $50 goes to the parish sheriff.
I am indigent. Can I have the costs waived?
No. The only circumstance that allows for a fee waiver is if all of the following applies:
The individual has no prior felony convictions anywhere in the country.
The individual has no pending felonies.
The offense for which the individual was prosecuted ended in an acquittal, motion to quash, or it has been dismissed/refused and the time limit for prosecution has expired.
How long does the whole process take?
As of August 15, 2015, it will take sixty (60) days from the date of filing for all the agencies to respond to your requet for an expungement. Then, it may take an addtional thirty (30) - sixty (60) days for the Louisiana State Police to mail you a Certificate of Compliance.
Once my records is expunged has it been removed from all potential viewers forever?
No, some government agencies may still able to view an arrest record even after it has been expunged.
If I apply for a job after my record is expunged how do I answer questions about my record on a job application?
There is no clear answer under the law. Seek the advice of an attorney regarding your particular situation.
Can I be denied employment because of my criminal record?
Private employers can deny you unemployment for any reason. However, public employers and licensing authorizes should only deny you employment if your arrest/conviction is reasonably related to the job for which an individual applied. An application for employment that was wrongfully denied may be reviewed by an attorney.