An expungement can give you a fresh start and open doors that have been closed because of a criminal conviction. As an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney, Stephen Howard has assisted clients in expunging criminal records ranging from serious felony convictions to dismissed misdemeanors charges. Contact us today to begin the expungement process. We can usually tell you over the phone whether you are eligible for a Utah expungement, or if there may be a way to restore your eligibility.
Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard provides services to clients in expungements and other criminal defense matters throughout Utah. We are also happy to work with out-of-state clients who have criminal cases in Utah.
Steps for Obtaining a Utah Expungement
BCI Certificate of Eligibility
The expungement process in Utah begins by submitting an application to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) for a certificate of eligibility. Before issuing an expungement certificate of eligibility, BCI will conduct a thorough background check, reviewing not only Utah district court and justice court records, but also FBI databases and criminal record information from other states. In determining eligibility for expungement, Utah’s expungement statutes consider not only the number of convictions (in Utah as well as other jurisdictions), but also the severity of those convictions and the time that has passed since jail, probation, or parole were completed. If BCI determines that a person has too many convictions or that the convictions are too recent, they will deny the issuance of a certificate of eligibility for expungement.
Filing the Court Petition for Expungement
If BCI issues a certificate of eligibility for expungement, then that certificate must be included in a formal petition for expungement filed with the appropriate court. If the charges resulted either in a conviction or in a case that was filed in court but later dismissed, then the expungement petition must be filed in that court. If the incident involves an arrest or criminal investigation that did not result in formal charges being filed in court, then the expungement petition must be filed in the district court for the county having jurisdiction over the matter.
In order to successfully obtain an expungement order, the petition must establish grounds sufficient for the court to determine that an expungement is not contrary to the public interest. If the victim or prosecutor objects to the expungement petition, the petitioner is entitled to a formal court hearing on the question of whether expungement is proper.
After the Expungement Order is Signed
Obtaining the judge’s signature on the expungement order is not the end of the expungement process. Unless a certified copy of the expungement order is delivered to each government agency in possession of records relating to the criminal case, they may still make information about the criminal investigation, arrest, or charges available to the public. Only after being presented with a certified copy of the expungement order will they be required to cease disclosing information about the case. Such records will then be sealed, and will no longer be available to the public.
Restoring Expungement Eligibility in Utah
Some people may find that they have too many convictions or that the level of their offenses is too high to be eligible for an expungement in Utah. In some cases, a 402 reduction may be used to restore eligibility for expungement. Violent felony charges (such as aggravated assault) will be an automatic disqualifier for expungement. But if a 402 reduction is granted, reducing the level of the offense to a misdemeanor, then expungement eligibility may be restored. Multiple misdemeanor charges can also result in disqualification for expungement. But if a 402 motion is granted reducing the levels of the offenses, eligibility may be restored.
Speeding up Expungement Eligibility
The required waiting time for expungement eligibility may also be shortened through the use of a 402 reduction. For example, a felony drug conviction requires a seven-year waiting period before a certificate of eligibility for expungement may be granted. But by reducing the level of the charge to a class A misdemeanor, two years can be shaved off the required waiting period. Similarly, a one-step reduction for a misdemeanor conviction can reduce the waiting period for expungement by one year.
Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake
Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has filed successful expungement petitions in a variety of Utah criminal cases. Whether you live in Utah or have moved out-of-state, we can often complete the expungement process for you without requiring you to appear in court.
Contact us today to start the expungement process.