The Importance of a Clean Record

October 31, 2015 | Category: Articles

If there is one truth in life that we all know—sometimes too well—it’s that people will make mistakes.  And mistakes can have serious, unforeseen effects.  In the legal world, those repercussions are often called “collateral consequences.”  A criminal conviction carries more collateral consequences for average people than almost any other mistake that someone could make.  Louisiana has recently revised its expungement laws, making it possible for many people who have made mistakes in the past to get a clean record.

After a Louisiana arrest or conviction, you should take advantage of the opportunity to clean your record.  After a conviction, background check companies will report to your future employers that you have a criminal record.  Banking institutions and lenders can reference your criminal history and use that information to deny you credit.  Insurance companies can evaluate your criminal history to determine whether to issue you insurance or how much to charge you for it.  Landlords can use your criminal record to deny you leases.  Public agencies that issue housing assistance can rely on your criminal record to disqualify you from social programs.  Student loan and college admission boards often decline applicants with criminal records.  Numerous family matters are affected by a criminal conviction, as well.  For example, when asking for child custody, adoption, curatorship, tutorship, executive powers over estates, and so forth, background checks are frequently used in assessing risk or suitability for those legal designations.  Even some volunteer organizations for charitable, sports, coaching, intramural, or volunteer work evaluate criminal history. 

The Louisiana Expungement Law provides a way to get a clean record.  If ten years have passed from the completion of your sentence for a felony, or five years have passed for a misdemeanor, you may be able to have your Louisiana criminal record expunged or sealed so that background check companies, private individuals, and most agencies will not be able to view it.

The new Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure, Articles 971 through 995 provide step-by-step instructions on how to clean your record.  An expungement does not destroy your record; it makes it confidential and inaccessible to private individuals.

Expunging a Louisiana criminal record cannot erase your past history, but it can bring a closure and relief.  Expunging the criminal records of your children can aid in placing them on an equal footing with their contemporaries, and expunging your own criminal history can help in creating a more stable and satisfying home, social, and professional life.  In short, expungement is an investment in closure and redemption that can greatly improve the quality of your life and those who depend on you.