Quick Facts about Expungement of Louisiana Criminal Records

October 31, 2015 | Category: Articles

In the 2014 and 2015 Louisiana Legislative Sessions, the legislature revised the Louisiana Expungement Law so that, having paid their debts to society, people with Louisiana criminal records may finally get some relief from the collateral consequences of criminal arrests and convictions.

If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Louisiana and want to clean your criminal record, here are some “quick facts” about the new Louisiana Expungement Law that you may want to know:

How a Louisiana Expungement Cleans Your Record

  • The Louisiana expungement law defines the phrase "expunge a record" as follows: to remove a record of arrest or conviction, photographs, fingerprints, disposition, or any other information of any kind from public access pursuant to the provisions of this Title [the Louisiana expungement law].  "Expunge a record" does not mean destruction of the record.
  • What this really means is that your record is cleaned of the arrest or conviction by making it private and only available to certain law enforcement agencies under limited circumstances. Private individuals, employers, and background check companies will not have access to, or be informed of, that confidential, expunged information.
  • In addition, you do not have to admit on an employment application that you were arrested or convicted of any charge or crime on your Louisiana criminal record that has been expunged.
  • You do not have to disclose that you have had any charge or crime expunged from your Louisiana criminal record.
  • Your expunged convictions and arrests in courthouse records are sealed and removed from public access.
  • Electronic Louisiana criminal records in law enforcement databases are removed from “normal” viewing by officers and can be accessed only under limited circumstances or with a court order.

Waiting Periods to Clean Your Louisiana Criminal Record

  • For felony convictions, 10 years from completion of sentence
  • For misdemeanor convictions, 5 years from completion of sentence
  • For arrests for which there was no prosecution:
    • Crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment--No time limit for prosecution
    • Felonies necessarily punishable by imprisonment “at hard labor” --6 years
    • Felonies not necessarily punishable by imprisonment at hard labor--4 years
    • Misdemeanors punishable by fine or imprisonment--2 years
    • Misdemeanors punishable only by fine (most traffic tickets, for example)--6 months.

Convictions that can be Expunged from Your Louisiana Criminal Record

  • The Louisiana law takes a relatively expansive approach to eligibility. Almost any conviction can be expunged unless it involved a juvenile, was a sex crime, or a crime of violence.
  • Anyone who has a Louisiana state court, non-violent felony or misdemeanor conviction who has successfully completed his sentence and waited the required period of time may ask for an expungement.

Convictions that Cannot Be Expunged from Your Louisiana Criminal Record

Expunging the record of a Louisiana conviction is generally not possible for:

  • sex crimes
  • crimes of violence
  • misdemeanor domestic abuse battery
  • misdemeanor stalking

There are some exceptions to these rules, and an experienced Louisiana expungement lawyer can assist you in determining if an exception can apply to clean your criminal record if you have been convicted of one of these crimes.

Expunging Arrests (Without Conviction) from Your Louisiana Criminal Record

  • The Louisiana Expungement Law authorizes an “interim expungement” for any arrest that did not result in a conviction for that same crime. This method will clean your record of an arrest for a crime if you were ultimately convicted of a different crime.  Your conviction, however, will remain on your Louisiana criminal record until it is expunged.

How Often Can a Louisiana Criminal Record Be Expunged?

  • Convictions may generally only be expunged once every 15 years.
  • There is no limit on “interim expungements.”
  • There is no limit on expungements to crimes for which you were found “not guilty.”

Costs to Clean Your Louisiana Criminal Record

  • Attorneys’ fees vary, depending on the skill of the attorney, your locale. the complexity of the case, and the time that your expungement motion may require. Typically, attorneys’ fees will range from around $1000 up to around $5000.  Complex cases can easily double that amount. 
  • You do not have to hire an attorney to seek an expungement. Uniform rules and forms have been authorized by the legislature to assist people who want to try to clean their Louisiana criminal records without an attorney’s assistance.  The expertise of a qualified Louisiana expungement attorney is valuable, however, because the clerk of court is forbidden by law to offer legal assistance, and the court cost are non-refundable, if you are unsuccessful in obtaining the expungement yourself.
  • Court costs, whichtheLouisianaExpungement Law requires to be paid at the time you file your motion, are set by statute, and they are non-refundable, even if your motion is denied. They include:
    • $250 to the Louisiana State Police, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information,
    • $200 to the Clerk of Court,
    • $50 to the parish district attorney’s office; and
    • $50 to the parish sheriff’s office.
  • If an 893/894 affidavit is required, there are additional fees:
    • $60 to the Clerk of Court; and
    • $50 to the parish sheriff’s office.
  • IfaDWI is involved, there are more additional fees:
    • $50 to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and
    • $50 (additional) to the Department of Motor Vehicle, if there is an 894.
  • The bottom line on court cost is that they will range from $550 up to $760, depending on the circumstances.
  • You must file a separate motion (and pay the separate $550-$760 filing fees) for each different arrest date.

What a Background Check Will Reveal After a Louisiana Expungement

  • A private party, such as a landlord or background check company, should find no information indicating that you had a Louisiana criminal record for any arrest or conviction that was expunged.
  • A law enforcement officer doing a routine check—such as at a traffic stop—should find no evidence of your Louisiana criminal record that has been expunged.
  • Certain licensing boards will have access to your expunged record when doing a background check, if they are permitted to obtain it through the Louisiana Expungement Law. You should consult an experienced Louisiana expungement lawyer to discuss your case, if you are applying for a professional license and have an expunged record.