Can I Expunge a Domestic Violence Conviction?

The criminal justice system can be unforgiving when it comes to domestic violence convictions.

With a charge like this on your record, you’ll have a hard time getting a job or a house, and will be prohibited from firearm ownership.

Thankfully, recent changes in legislation have made it possible to begin again, making your domestic violence conviction eligible for expungement.

The only question is: where do you start?

What is Considered Violence/Abuse in a Domestic Setting?

Domestic violence and abuse refer to a pattern of negative behavior used by the perpetrator to establish or maintain power and control over the victim. The victims can be spouses, intimate partners, or cohabitants. Domestic violence and abuse take many forms.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is physically aggressive behavior such as pushing, hitting, slapping, stabbing, and strangling. However, it also includes threats to physically assault, destroying treasured objects and possessions, withholding physical needs, forcing drug use on the victim, and holding the victim hostage.

Emotional Abuse

This refers to behavior that damages the victim’s emotional well-being. Emotional abuse includes name-calling, intimidating, manipulating, threatening, blaming, ignoring, isolating, and putting the victim down in public. This can be verbal, non-verbal, or both.

Economic or Financial Abuse

This happens when the perpetrator manipulates economic resources to make the victim entirely financially reliant on them. The abuse may involve controlling the family income, denying access to funds, hiding family assets, and sabotaging education and employment opportunities.

Sexual Abuse

This is when an abuser attempts to force or actually forces their partner to have sexual contact without the victim’s consent. It also includes verbal and physical behavior such as touching sexual body parts, telling offensive sexual jokes, rape, making sexually demeaning comments, and withholding sex to punish your partner.

Requirements to Expunge Domestic Violence Conviction

The expungement process is a privilege and not a right, and there are rules that govern the process. Take time to find out if you are eligible before petitioning the court to set aside the conviction.

  1. You have to wait. Domestic violence charges are considered serious misdemeanors. The same applies if expunging only one felony domestic violence conviction.
  2. You cannot be facing criminal charges.
  3. You cannot have a felony domestic violence conviction set aside if you’ve had a prior misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
  4. You can only have two physical assault crimes set aside.
  5. You can’t have more than three felonies on your record (although there’s a bit of an exception if you have multiple convictions stemming from one bad 24-hour period).

Once you have established that you meet all the requirements, you must fill out and file your application with the court where you were convicted.

You will also be required to attend a court hearing where the judge will decide whether the conviction will be removed from your record.

Automatic Expungement Services

The automatic expungement process won’t be available until 2023.

However, the qualifying wait period is seven years for misdemeanors and ten years for felonies. Only two felonies and four misdemeanors can be cleared during your lifetime.

Similarly, automatic expungement will not apply if you have more than one assaultive crime.

How Long Does It Take to Expunge a Domestic Violence Charge?

That answer depends on you and/or your criminal defense attorney. Right now, it’s estimated that the process can take up to eight months.

Keep in mind that any mistakes or missing information can prolong the process.

How a Lawyer Can Help You Expunge a Domestic Violence Conviction

Expunging a domestic violence conviction is a complex legal process. A single mistake can jeopardize your chances of success. This is why you should consider hiring a lawyer.

A criminal defense attorney’s job is to protect your rights. Here’s how they’ll have your back.

Determine Eligibility

A criminal defense lawyer lives and breathes the law. They will quickly be able to tell you whether you qualify for expungement, saving you time and stress.

Navigate the Legal Issues

The process of having a conviction removed from your record can be incredibly overwhelming. Your lawyer will help you navigate complicated legal issues to ensure a smooth process.

Handle the Paperwork

There are certain documents that you need to show you have completed your sentence. Your lawyer will not only help you identify and get these documents but also handle the necessary paperwork.

Ensure Your Case Is Properly Presented to the Judge

Properly presenting your case to the judge will increase your chances of them granting the expungement. This is especially important in domestic violence cases, where victims might show up and object to you getting the second chance you deserve.

We know. We’ve seen it.

Your lawyer will ensure you are prepared for the court hearing.

Criminal Defense Attorneys That Put You First

When it’s you vs. the criminal justice system, it’s understandable that you’d want to be in the driver’s seat. But time has taught us that when you need help, the best thing to do is ask for it.

Take the first step towards the rest of your life. Contact an expungement lawyer today.

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