WHAT DOES THE TERM EXPUNGEMENT ACTUALLY MEAN?
After a person has been convicted of a crime or completed a diversion for a charged offense, there is a criminal record that is created, and that criminal record is generally maintained with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). The KBI is the central repository for all criminal records in Kansas. Whenever a person seeks to get that record taken down, whether because they are trying to get a new job or it’s preventing them from going to a preferred school or enjoying some sort of right that they would otherwise be able to enjoy, then they are looking for an expungement.
Expungement is not available in every state; however, it’s available in Kansas for a wide variety of crimes. What an expungement does is it takes a criminal record and seals it from public view. This does not mean that you can expunge your record where it will not be available for law enforcement purposes. But generally, that doesn’t matter to people who are seeking an expungement. For most people, if you want to get your record expunged, it is because you want to do something new, get a better job or a better place to live.
How Does An Expungement Differ From A Sealed Record Or A Pardon?A lot of people use those terms interchangeably. Most people don’t go for a pardon in Kansas; in Missouri, it’s another story, but a pardon is usually for somebody that’s going to be sitting in prison, unless the governor issues a pardon as part of the process to let them out. A pardon basically undoes their crime or forgives them for their crime. Getting a record sealed is usually in a civil context, such as if there is some sort of information, such as trade secrets or proprietary information, that a business or individual has a strong interest in keeping out of the public view. If some information that needs to be protected is “filed” in a case then the a party may seek to get that filing “sealed.” Since all or most civil cases are public record, an individual would have their lawyer seek to get the record sealed, which would prevent someone from just going up to the courthouse and obtaining copies of that information that’s in the file. What the expungement statute does is take a criminal offense and make it not viewable to the public.
What Are The Eligibility Requirements To File For An Expungement?There are three considerations. You have to look at the crime that the person was convicted of, when the person was convicted and when they got off probation or parole. After you know those three things, you can usually determine whether a person is going to be eligible for an expungement. Just because you are eligible to apply for an expungement or file a petition for it does not mean that it’s always going to be granted. You have to wait a prescribed period of time, and that prescribed period of time depends on the severity of the crime. Obviously, in more severe crimes, you have to wait longer. The Kansas state legislature has basically listed every single crime and how long you have to wait, and they’ve also listed if it’s expungable at all.
After you get past those three considerations, you have to look at whether the person has been convicted of any felonies in the last two years, which bars them from applying for an expungement. Then they also have to show that it’s in the interest of justice or the public good that they get this record taken down. This is usually the biggest hurdle because most people won’t apply if they don’t qualify by the statute because it’s useless to apply for something you know you can’t get. What they’re generally trying to prove is if it’s in the public interest or the public good to keep this off their record.
Do Expungements Apply To Just Charges Or Convictions As Well?There are actually two different statutes. One is for expunging a crime for which you were never convicted, and the other one is for expunging crimes that you were convicted of. One of the main differences is that for the crime that you were never convicted of, you can apply for the expungement of that immediately. You don’t have to wait for a prescribed period of time. Other than that, they are fairly similar.