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?
Some records may be eligible for expungement. Typically, violent crimes and some drug offenses are ineligible for expungement. Additionally, a record may be expunged five (5) years after adjudication and only once every five (5) years. For more information on your specific record, contact an attorney who can examine your record and determine your eligibility.
If my arrest lead to a conviction am I still eligible?
No, except where the sentence was specifically a deferred probationary period under Article 893E or 894B of the Louisiana code of Criminal Procedure AND you successfully satisfied your probation and had the conviction was set-aside.
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?
Applicants are at least 17 years at the time of application.
The misdemeanor arrest did not lead to a juvenile adjudication.
The arrest lead to adjudication for a misdemeanor and has been more than 2 years since the conditions of the judgment against were satisfied.
The arrest lead to adjudication for a felony and it has been five years since the conditions of the judgment were satisfied. Murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, armed robbery and sex crimes are excluded from this.
I received a 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 after the final disposition of the case where there was an acquittal or 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
If I am eligible for an expungement, how long do I have to wait after my sentencing?
This will depend on whether your conviction was set-aside pursuant to articles 893E or 894B. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and not sentenced pursuant to article 894B, then you can either ask the court to resconsider sentencing or wait five (5) years from the completion of any sentence. Similarly, if you were convicted of a felong and not sentenced pursuan to article 893E, then you may ask the court for reconsideration in some circumstances or wait ten (10) years from the completion of your sentence only if the offense for which you were convicted is not otherwise prohibited from an 893E sentence.
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.
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 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?
It may take up to 120 days from the date the Louisiana State Police recieved notice that you have petitioned the court for an expungement.
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.
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.