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Expungement Process & Timeframe

Interviewer: How long does that process take?

Adam Hunt: It depends on the docket of the court – how busy they are – and then obviously it would depend on the attorney’s schedule.It could be relatively quick if things work out with everybody’s schedule because even then you have to worry about the client’s schedule.Most times they do have to appear in court but not always.

Interviewer: It’s been a year, and I’m looking to have my case expunged completely. What’s the process going to be like once I meet with you?

Adam Hunt: Basically there’s going to be a motion that’s going to be filed in whatever court the conviction was held.There will be a little bit of paper work to fill out with that motion – not much.Typically a hearing is set, and most times the individual will have to be present. Other times there’s a way around it, depending on the level of the charge and what’s trying to be sealed at that point in time.

Interviewer: Are there any items that I would have to bring?

Adam Hunt: There’s nothing really that a client would have to bring. Sometimes they might have to sign an affidavit – that would be the biggest thing – or what we call plea in absentia.If they’re not required to come to court, then the plea of absentia lets me amend the charge and then accepts something that would be expunge-able or something that would accelerate the expungement process.It just depends on the nature of the situation.

Interviewer: Are there any witnesses or any additional people that I have to have sign forms?

Adam Hunt: If there was a victim, potentially they would receive notice, but it wouldn’t actually be up to the individual to get them to come there.If it was, say, a neighbor on a theft or something then it might be nice to approach the neighbor and let them know what’s going on.You would assume after a period of time that maybe it was just a bad time in someone’s life.There may have been a healing process that they went through and they may be willing to cooperate so it’s always better to have the alleged victim on your side than against you, but it’s not up to them to contact the individual; it’s the court’s.

Potential Barriers

Interviewer: What are the possible hurdles or the different kinds of barriers that someone may face when they’re trying to apply for an expungement?

Adam Hunt: One of the biggest ones other than the time limit would be the fact that the court has to provide notice, if there was a victim, to that victim, whether it be assault or a theft. The court will provide them notice and give them an opportunity to object to the expungement.The judge will then obviously weight their grounds versus enough time and what has changed since the conviction.

Interviewer: So the judge will contact the victim, depending on what the situation was.What if that person objects?

Adam Hunt: He’ll listen to the grounds for why the victim is objecting and how long it’s been and whether it’s in the interest of justice. It’s going to depend on what the issue was.

Interviewer: Have you ever had a case like that?

Adam Hunt: Oh, as far as the victim goes, there are obviously people that at some point in time just won’t let things go and they don’t care how long it’s been they’re always going to maintain almost a grudge when it comes to what happened. They may have felt like their privacy was invaded, or whatever it may be and there are times even when the victim doesn’t care, the judge doesn’t think it’s long enough and that this person hasn’t learned their lesson and they believe that whatever was done was egregious enough that the public needs to know this.

Interviewer: From there, what are the probable scenarios that are going to happen from there?

Adam Hunt: Again, you’d have a hearing in front of the judge and you’d make your argument.The victim would be afforded the opportunity to make their argument on the matters and from there the judge would make his decision.Typically, he would not do it in open court, first of all, in order to not either offend or make the victim mad or to not disappoint the person that’s trying to get the expungement.He would issue an order and after that he’d either continue with the expungement process or deny the defendant the expungement.

Interviewer: If someone were to contest it, how much longer would the process take?

Adam Hunt: It wouldn’t necessarily take a lot longer – maybe just another 30 days to get another hearing. It’s just so you’re overly prepared – bringing in character witnesses, if you needed to, and then proceeding from there.

By Adam Hunt

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