Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Remove a Conviction from My Certificate?

Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Remove a Conviction from My Certificate?

Getting convicted of a crime can have long-lasting consequences that make it hard to move on with your life. Even after you’ve served your sentence, a criminal record can make it difficult to get a job, find housing, or pursue other opportunities. But in some cases, it may be possible to remove a conviction from your record through a process called expungement or record sealing. Here’s what you need to know about how a criminal defense lawyer can potentially help with removing a conviction from your certificate.

What is Expungement and Record Sealing?

Expungement and record sealing are legal processes that can remove certain convictions from your criminal record. An expungement destroys or erases the record, while record sealing simply hides it from public view. Each state has its own laws on what convictions can be erased or hidden and how to apply for expungement or sealing. Some key things to know:

  • Not all crimes can be expunged or sealed – Typically only minor, nonviolent offenses are eligible after a period of time
  • The process varies by state – Each state has different requirements and waiting periods
  • It’s not automatic – You must petition the court and go through the proper legal process
  • Records remain available to some – Expunged or sealed records may still be visible to law enforcement, courts, etc.

So expungement or sealing doesn’t make your conviction completely disappear, but it can help give you a clean slate by limiting public access to your record. This can open doors to jobs, housing, loans and other opportunities you were previously excluded from due to your criminal history.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Navigating the expungement or record sealing process can be complicated, but a criminal defense lawyer can provide invaluable help. Here are some key ways an attorney can assist:

  • Determine eligibility – They can review your specific conviction and criminal history to see if you qualify for expungement or record sealing under your state’s laws.
  • Handle the petition – They will prepare all the required legal paperwork and file the petition for you in the proper court.
  • Represent you in court – If a hearing is required, your attorney can represent you before the judge and prosecutor to argue for approving the expungement or sealing.
  • Deal with objections – If the prosecutor objects to expunging or sealing your record, your lawyer can argue against those objections on your behalf.
  • Make sure it’s enforced – They will ensure the court order is properly carried out so your conviction is actually removed from your record.

Having an experienced lawyer handle the expungement or record sealing process maximizes your chances of success. They know how to navigate each step properly under your state laws and can best argue your specific circumstances to the court.

Other Ways Lawyers Can Help with Convictions

Beyond expungement and record sealing, a criminal defense lawyer may also be able to help remove or minimize a conviction through:

  • Appeals – Appealing the conviction to a higher court and potentially getting it overturned.
  • Post-conviction relief – Filing a motion to vacate the conviction if errors were made in the trial or plea process.
  • Early termination of probation – Petitioning the court to end probation early and set aside the conviction.
  • Pardons – Applying to the governor or president for an executive pardon.

While these strategies are not always successful, an attorney can advise if any might apply in your case. The bottom line is there are various legal options that may enable removing or reducing convictions in certain circumstances. Consulting an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best way to understand if any could potentially help in your specific situation.

The Takeaway

Having a criminal conviction drag down your life is unfair if you’ve already served your sentence and rehabilitated yourself. In many cases, expungement or record sealing can be a path to remove convictions from your record and get a fresh start. An attorney knowledgeable in these processes can properly evaluate your situation and handle the petition process to give you the best chance. So if you’re looking to remove a conviction from your certificate, your first step should be discussing your options with a criminal defense lawyer.

[1] Can I Expunge My Adult Criminal Conviction in Iowa? – Iowa Legal Aid

[2] How Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Lessen or Dismiss Charges for Clients? –

[3] Expungement Basics – FindLaw

[4] Expungement of Iowa Criminal Convictions – O’Flaherty Law

[5] Expunging and Sealing Criminal Records – Center for American Progress