In many different legal situations in Delaware, the only way to return to a clean criminal record is to seek expungement or pardon of an offense. In many cases, this may not be possible:
- If the crime was extremely severe or significant, such as a felony;
- If the crime was a second, third, or other subsequent offense;
- If the crime resulted in the injury or death of another person.
However, even in these situations, it is important to consult with a reliable Delaware defense attorney to be certain whether your case will or will not qualify for expungement. Expungement relies upon state statutes which define the types of crimes that can be expunged and procedures for making such a petition.
In Delaware, petitions for expungement are generally filed at the county level. Your petition for expungement is much more likely to be accepted if the case was “terminated” or “disposed of.” However, there are other circumstances under which an expungement may be possible even if you were convicted of a crime.
Because expungement results in the elimination of any evidence or record of the criminal history of the affected case, it can result in a clear criminal record. Since this is the case, there are no specific examples of famous Delaware expungement cases to reference. However, a good attorney will be able to guide you through the specifics that apply to you.
First Offense Election May Help With Expungement
If you are a first-time offender and are qualifying under Delaware’s First Offense Election, you may be able to get a case expunged more rapidly than you would otherwise. The First Offense Election allows first-time offenders to potentially reduce penalties in exchange for undergoing education on the offense and other steps.
Note that a Delaware dismissed case will remain on your record until you take steps to have it expunged. Even if you have prevailed in a case, it is important to make sure the case is actually removed. This is significant for the professional concerns of many people, such as commercial drivers, who may need a completely clean driving record in order to work.
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- Free initial consultation about your criminal defense case
I spent 15 years as a prosecutor in Kent and Sussex counties before opening my criminal defense law practice in 2003. I understand all too well that good people make mistakes that should not follow them around for the rest of their lives.
Expungements of Criminal Arrest Records in Delaware
An expungement results in an arrest being removed from your criminal record. Expungements are only possible if the arrest never resulted in a conviction, for example, if the charges were dismissed or you received a deferred sentence.
It is important to act quickly to request expungement because expungement of an arrest is not available if you are later arrested and convicted for any crime. For example, consider a person who is arrested and charged with homicide, and then the charges are dropped because the person has a strong alibi. If the same person is later charged with and convicted of retail theft, then the homicide arrest will no longer be eligible for expungement from the criminal record.
Note that expungements are not available for DUI-related arrests.
Pardons of Criminal Convictions in Delaware
Crimes can also be pardoned. If you have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of anything other than a traffic violation in Delaware, then it is a criminal offense. An individual may apply for a pardon from the governor of Delaware and then go forward with expungement proceedings if the pardon is granted.
A petition for a pardon is the only way to have a criminal conviction removed from a criminal record, and it is a more formal procedure than an expungement request. The individual must file a formal request with the state Board of Pardons, which has the sole authority to grant or deny the request.
When I worked as a prosecutor, I represented the state at Board of Pardons hearings, arguing against ex-convicts’ petitions for pardons. Now, pardon petitions are a major part of my criminal defense practice. I know the procedures and I am familiar with the strategies the prosecutors are likely to use.
Pardon petitions take more time and strategic thinking to prepare than expungement requests do. I also must appear before the board and argue in-person for the petition to be granted. I am extremely comfortable and confident in the courtroom, which is not true of all criminal defense lawyers.
Whether you have one arrest and one conviction or several convictions in different counties over a period of many years, I have the proven experience to write persuasive pardon petitions and make convincing arguments to the Board of Pardons. It does not matter to me what you were convicted of, although it is more difficult to successfully argue for pardons of some crimes, such as sex offenses.
Contact my Criminal Defense Firm to Learn More
I handle both expungements and pardon petitions throughout the state of Delaware. Contact my Dover criminal defense law office to schedule a free consultation in a private setting to discuss your needs. You can reach us at 302-244-5312.
Our Delaware criminal defense lawyers serve all of Delaware including Wilmington, Newark, University of Delaware, Pike Creek, Hockessin, New Castle, Bear, Glasgow, Middletown, Smyrna, Dover, Magnolia, Felton, Harrington, Frederica, Camden, Hartly, Wyoming, Cheswold, Woodside, Dover Air Force Base (Dover AFB), Kenton, Wyoming, Farmington, Houston, Bowers, Leipsic, Little Creek, Milford, Laurel, Millsboro,, Seaford, Milton, Greenwood, Dagsboro, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island & Ocean View, DE.