When it comes to sealing criminal records and expungements in the state of Mississippi, laws are strict. But, in order to regain your basic civil rights, it is important for anyone with a criminal record to explore their options.
The expungement process may differ according to whether you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, and because the process can be a bit complex, we’ve divided this overview into two parts. In this first installment, we’ll discuss expungement of felonies for those over 21 and those who commit major crimes while they are still a minor.
So, What Is Expungement?
An expungement is the legal process, or petition, where certain criminal offenses, arrests and/or juvenile records can be erased (or sealed) from the public. This includes background checks conducted by landlords, lending institutions and private employers. A successful petition allows you to legally tell any school, rental application or private employer that you have never been arrested or convicted of any crime.
However, an expungement in the state of Mississippi will not result in the total destruction of your record. For example, any prior convictions must be disclosed if you’re applying for a professional license, employment in law enforcement or the military. You must also state that you have been granted an order of expunction.
Juvenile records work a little different. They can be sealed at any time by the youth court, once a minor turns 20, if a case has been dismissed or if settlement of the case has been set aside. Juvenile records can be accessed any time with proper application to the youth court, or under certain circumstances, by the court’s own motion. Records are otherwise unavailable to the public.
Many felony charges are also eligible for expungement, even after a person has plead guilty or been convicted. As with misdemeanors, dismissed felony charges, non-prosecuted charges or not-guilty rulings can be expunged.
There are only six felony offenses eligible for expungement in the state of Mississippi. Those eligible offenses are:
- Possession of controlled substances
- Malicious mischief
- Bad check offenses
- False pretenses
Mississippi law also allows DUI offenders a one-time opportunity to have their first offense expunged. Pre-Trial Diversions are eligible for expungement as well.
A person may only expunge one of the above felony convictions. Moreover, if you are convicted of one of the above felonies, you have to wait five years from the successful completion of all terms and conditions of your sentence before expungement is available.
Felony Under 21
Anyone under the age of 21 is only eligible to expunge a single felony conviction committed while under age. In order to become eligible, a convicted person must first wait five years from the successful completion of all terms and conditions of their sentence before expungement is available. However, the following felony convictions are not eligible:
- Sexual Battery
- Armed Robbery
- Burglary of an occupied dwelling or commercial estate
- Exploitation of children (by use of computer or other)
- Any other felony that a court deems a violent crime or felony related to the distribution of controlled substances
Regardless of whatever crime may have been involved, Mississippi residents with criminal convictions or arrest records should consider getting an order of expunction. Without one, you may have a hard time securing employment, renting a house, applying for a change in immigrant status, obtaining a professional license or consumer credit.
Be sure to stay tuned to the Coxwell Blog for our next installment, where we’ll discuss the expungement process for misdemeanors, and if you’re exploring the possibility of expunging your own criminal record, contact us at (601) 265-7766 to discuss the details of your case. We’ll schedule a no-pressure initial consultation for you and help you determine the best course of action.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.