There is good news and bad news on the question of whether a violent felony can be expunged in Ogden (or anywhere in Utah for that matter). The bad news is that a felony conviction classified as a “violent felony” under Utah law cannot be expunged through the courts. But the good news is that a good criminal attorney may be able to help you find ways around this prohibition.
Contact us today to see how we can help you.
Statutory Rules on Expungement of Violent Felonies
Expungement eligibility requirements for criminal cases involving a conviction are established by Utah Code 77-40-105. Under this law, a standard felony conviction requires a minimum seven-year waiting period before the felony conviction can be eligible for expungement. But this statute also bars BCI from issuing a certificate of eligibility and prohibits the courts in Ogden from entering an expungement order for any conviction classified as a “violent felony.” For purposes of expungement eligibility, the term “violent felony” is defined by Utah Code 76-3-203.5 and covers a wide variety of felony offenses including (but not limited to) convictions for robbery, burglary, arson, aggravated assault, child abuse, domestic violence, homicide, kidnapping, rape or other sex offenses, stalking, witness tampering, and various weapons offenses.
402 Reductions and Restoring Expungement Eligibility
A person who has successfully completed probation may be eligible to have the level of the conviction reduced by up to two steps under Utah Code 76-3-402. In cases involving a violent felony conviction, this “402” reduction can result in the felony being reduced to the misdemeanor level. Assuming that other eligibility requirements are met, this reduction can restore expungement eligibility in many cases.
In determining whether a person is eligible for expungement, courts in Ogden and BCI must consider the current status of the conviction rather than the nature and level of the offense that was originally charged. Thus, if a violent felony is reduced to the misdemeanor level through the initial plea negotiations process or following a felony conviction by way of a 402 reduction, neither BCI nor the courts will treat the case as a felony.
Pardons and Expungements
Utah law recognizes that there are individuals who will not meet the statutory requirements for expungement eligibility, but may still deserve to have their records cleaned. Utah law involves a black-and-white set of rules which BCI must follow in determining expungement eligibility. Not even the courts have authority or discretion to expunge an Ogden criminal conviction if the eligibility requirements are not met.
However, Utah law also provides the Board of Pardons and Parole with the authority and the discretion to enter a pardon order for individuals who have demonstrated that they deserve a clean record. Previous versions of Utah’s laws governing pardons provided only that a pardon would restore a person’s eligibility for expungement. But more recent changes to the pardon laws provide instead that the Board’s pardon has the same effect as an expungement order.