Q:

How long do charges stay on your criminal record?

A:

With few exceptions, convictions for misdemeanors and felonies remain on an offender's record permanently, according to law firm Collins and Collins. In rare cases, a criminal conviction can be expunged or sealed. However, these remedies are difficult to achieve. Sealing a record is normally only available in juvenile cases.

Court records are stored in court databases or in archival storage forever, according to the Minnesota Judicial Branch Self-Help Center. These records contain criminal charges or convictions for an individual that has gone through the criminal justice system. Individual state, city and county departments keep their own set of records pertaining to criminal cases. The Self-Help Center also notes that criminal records are accessible to the public. For example, in Minnesota, anyone can conduct a criminal records search at a district court. Employers and landlords may take the opportunity to look up an ex-offender's record upon receiving an application. It is important to note that a person can have a criminal record for being charged with a crime, even if the charges were dropped.

Someone seeking to remove convictions from his file can request the court reopen the criminal case and dismiss the charges through the expungement process. Expungement does not entirely get rid of the case, states the Sacramento County Public Law Library, but the conviction is replaced with a dismissal in the interests of justice.

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