John R. Garey
What is a Felony?
Felonies are crimes often deemed to be more serious in nature, and a guilty conviction of a felony often times results in a person being incarcerated for at least a period of one year. This incarceration, rather than being carried out at a local jail, will be done in a prison, and often this sentence is accompanied by hefty criminal fines.
Having a felony arrest on one’s criminal record may prove to be damaging if the charges go un-expunged. Criminal background checks are done in a variety of different situations, from applying for a job to renting a home or apartment, and often a felony charge on one’s criminal record will hinder their ability to move on after a sentence is served.
A felony arrest differs from felony charges greatly. When a person is arrested on a suspicion of committing a felony, the arrest is considered to be a felony arrest whether charges have been brought forth or not. Should the person be found innocent of the felony suspected, their criminal record will not be marred with a felony charge.
A felony charge is in place once the court proceedings have begun. The district attorney of a particular state will begin the formal process of charging one with a felony, and they can be determined guilty or not guilty of the felony at the end of their trial.
States will generally use one of two methods when pressing felony charges; one is to bring the case before a grand jury to determine if one is guilty or innocent of the felony, and the other is by a prosecutor’s complaint. These two methods are used to determine if there is enough evidence available to bring the suspect to trial, and if it is determined that there is, a trial will begin.
Felony expungement means clearing one’s criminal record of felony charges or a felony arrest. A felony arrest is much easier to have removed from the record than felony charges, but both are possible and the qualifications vary from state to state.
For most states, filing a felony expungement request is something of a process. A request to have a felony charge or arrest expunged must first be filed with a local judge, as some felonies are ineligible, and not all requests are accepted to be determined. Filing one of these requests will often also cost a fee, and a person must make sure that their sentence and fines have been paid as well as served before filing in their state. If a person is placed on probation in regards to their sentence, their probation time must also be completely fulfilled without violations before a request may be successfully filed and determined.
Felony expungement often also involves a waiting period after a sentence has been served, but this will vary from state to state. This waiting period can be as great as 10 years, and a person may find themselves ineligible to have their records cleared before this period of time has passed.
The likelihood of a felony being expunged is directly linked to the seriousness of the crime. Nonviolent or less serious felonies are the most likely to be successfully cleared from one’s criminal record, while violent or sexually based crimes are often more difficult or ineligible altogether. Although these crimes will vary on a state basis, they are most commonly:
Reducing Felony Charges To Misdemeanor Charges
It is possible to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanor charges if one is equipped with the right lawyer for representation. Not only are the sentences and fines for misdemeanor charges less severe than that of a felony, but misdemeanors are also significantly easier to have expunged.
The crimes that are most likely to be reduced to misdemeanor charges are often deemed as “wobblers” by a variety of states, and this means that they wobble between the lines of being a felony or a misdemeanor. These crimes are mostly nonviolent, and with the help of the right lawyer for representation, it is not uncommon for these “wobbler” charges to be reduced.
A misdemeanor typically looks better than a felony on one’s criminal record, and misdemeanor charges will often come with less harsh sentences. Where a felony charge will typically warrant a year or more in prison, a felony charge brought down to a misdemeanor conviction will usually result in time spent in a local jail facility.
Hiring a Lawyer for Felony Cases
It is always recommended that any person facing felony charges hire a skilled lawyer to assist them with their case. This lawyer will be able to assess the situation from a law standpoint to determine the likelihood of reduced charges, expungement, and a sentence that is in the best interest of his or her client.
For felony expungement filings, it’s important to seek out a who lawyer specializes in having cases successfully expunged. Consulting with one of our lawyers will give one the information they need to determine if their charge is worth the effort and cost of filing for an expungement. These lawyers will also often help a client in filing for this complex procedure, making the process much easier and more understandable for the person wanting their criminal record cleared.