What needs to be done to successfully file a petition to expunge will vary from one jurisdiction to another. Contacting the justice authorities in the jurisdiction where you were convicted and asking for information about the expungement process may be a good first step. You may also find out if an expungement is possible for your type of case. Regardless of the various jurisdiction differences, you generally can begin by gathering everything that you need to complete the petition to expunge, such as two sets of fingerprints and money to pay fees. It may also be helpful to find a lawyer or legal aide to assist you or review your petition before submitting it to make sure it has been completed properly.
The very first thing to note is that expungement is not possible for everyone. The law generally outlines which situations qualify for expungement. It may also explicitly state situations in which expungement may not be granted. This means that you should avoid wasting time by making sure that your conviction qualifies for removal before you attempt to file your petition. Information regarding the qualifications are often found on the website belonging to a jurisdiction's justice department.
You also will need to determine where your criminal records are being held. This is often at the court which convicted you. One of the first steps in the expungement process is to contact the court or department that has your records and let them know that you plan to file a petition to expunge. In many instances, they will have forms and instructions that pertain specifically to that jurisdiction. Be sure that you carefully read through all of the documents that are given to you.
It is essential that you do everything that is required. Do not expect filing the petition to expunge to be a simple process. It may even be advisable to utilize the assistance of an attorney because there may be some questions or parts of the procedure that you do not understand. If the process is not executed properly, it could hinder your efforts.
In most cases, for the petition to expunge to be complete, you will need a number of items. To begin with, you should go to a police department and get two sets of fingerprints. You are likely to need a copy of your arrest record and your court file as well, as you may have to include these documents with your petition. Even if this is not required, these records contain information that is generally needed, such as case numbers, arrest date, and conviction date. Also, you will need the money to pay the required fee because filing a petition to expunge is not normally free.