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Plea in Abeyance - Utah Criminal Background Check

Will a plea in abeyance show up on my criminal background check?

It is commonly believed that when a plea has been held in abeyance in a criminal case, and the charges are ultimately dismissed, that the case will not appear on a criminal background check. This is incorrect. An expungement is needed to more thoroughly clear your criminal history and allow you to have a clean criminal background check. We can help you obtain an expungement and clear your criminal record.

Contact us today to see how we can help expunge your criminal record.

What will appear on my pre-employment criminal background check?

What shows up on a criminal background check can depend both on the status of your case as well as what information is being sought. Understanding the processes involved in a plea in abeyance can help you know what will appear on your background check.

Many employers request a criminal background check that only looks for convictions. If a plea has been held in abeyance, it should not appear on a criminal history report as a conviction - even before the case has been dismissed. Although a plea in abeyance does involve the acceptance of a plea (either guilty or no contest) by the court, the court does not take the next step of entering the plea as a conviction. Instead the plea is held "in abeyance" pursuant to the terms of an agreement entered into by the defense and prosecution. So although the case may still be a matter of public record, it should not show up on a criminal background check that is only looking for convictions.

Some employers are interested in learning as much as possible about a prospective employee. Such employers may conduct a criminal background check that looks for arrests, court cases, or active arrest warrants. Where a plea has been held in abeyance, even after the case has been dismissed, it can still show up on this kind of background check.

How do I clear my record after a plea in abeyance is dismissed?

Expungement provides the most direct avenue for clearing your record following a successful plea in abeyance. Once the case has been dismissed, a thirty-day waiting period is required before a defendant can apply for a certificate of eligibility. (This is much shorter than the three-to-ten year period required to be eligible to have most convictions expunged.)

The expungement process begins with an application to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) for a certificate of eligibility for expungement. But this is only the beginning of the process. A formal petition to expunge records must be filed with the court, along with other documents required for the prosecutor. Following through on all aspects of the process is necessary to complete the expungement and obtain a clear criminal history report.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerIf you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah, a plea in abeyance may provide a good alternative to resolving the case without a full jury trial. But even after a case has dismissed, an expungement is necessary to complete the process of clearing your official criminal history report. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, Stephen Howard has assisted clients and defended their rights from initial police investigations through dismissals and expungements of their records.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation, and see what we can do to help you.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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