How to Expunge a Criminal Record in Connecticut

Hand Filling Criminal Background Check Application Form - Expunge Criminal Record Concept

Life with a criminal record is not easy. A misdemeanor or felony conviction in your past can make it hard to find a job, rent a home, or get a professional license for your career. If you are struggling to overcome these hurdles you may wonder how to expunge a criminal record in Connecticut, and whether you need a lawyer to have your Absolute Pardon granted.

Expungement in Connecticut Means an Absolute Pardon

When you hear the word expungement you probably assume those who undergo the process will walk away with clear criminal records. Some states confuse the issue, granting “expungements” that seal criminal records from public access while leaving those records intact for use by police, prosecutors, and parole boards in the future. Expungement in Connecticut goes beyond that. It has two levels: an Absolute Pardon and a Provisional Pardon.

What is a Provisional Pardon?

The provisional pardon, also called a certificate of employability, does not remove convictions from your record. Instead, it provides you with an official state document saying you shouldn’t be denied a job or license because of your criminal history. It makes it illegal for a potential employer to deny you a position based on your criminal history alone.

What is an Absolute Pardon?

Unlike provisional pardons or other states’ expungements, an absolute pardon in Connecticut erases a past conviction from your record entirely. There is no guarantee that an application for pardon will be granted. However, if it is, the Pardons Board will expunge the offense from the criminal record database.

How to Expunge a Criminal Record

Expunging a criminal record depends on two things: (1) eligibility and (2) suitability. That means you would be wise to discuss how to expunge a criminal record with your criminal defense attorney before you begin, to make the most of your time and effort.

Are You Eligible For an Absolute Pardon?

The answer to the question, “can I get my Connecticut criminal conviction expunged?” starts with a calendar. To be eligible for an absolute pardon, you must wait:

  • 3 years for a misdemeanor conviction
  • 5 years for a felony conviction

These clocks start on the day the criminal conviction was entered, even if your sentence extended months or even years beyond that date.

To be eligible, you must not have any:

    • Pending charges or opening cases (in any state or federal court)
    • Current probation or parole

  • Nolle prosequi charges -- where a prosecutor decided to drop charges against you -- within the last 13 months

What Should You Expect in the Pardon Process?

Once you or your expungement attorney begins the online expungement process, you will have six (6) months to complete the application. This includes gathering:

  • State Police Criminal History Report (rap sheet)
  • A fingerprint card (or have the State Police process your fingerprints)
  • A police incident report for every Connecticut offense within the last 10 years
  • Court, probation, or police records for any unreported convictions, like driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or reckless driving

If you are eligible for an absolute pardon, the Pardons Board will conduct a background investigation. You will be contacted for a pre-screen session done by telephone interview. Then you and your attorney will be required to attend one of the 12 Pardon Board hearings held each year. You should plan to attend in person, even if you now live out of state.

Do You Qualify for an Expedited Process?

Connecticut law allows for non-violent convictions with no victim to be expunged using an expedited process. The Pardons Board staff will decide if you qualify for an expedited process. If so, your expungement may be granted without a hearing or pre-screen review. However, being selected for an expedited process doesn’t guarantee your request for pardon will be granted. The Panels Board could grant or deny the application, or decide it needs you to attend a full panel hearing.

How Does the Pardons Board Decide Whether to Grant an Absolute Pardon?

Eligibility for expungement may be essentially automatic, but having a pardon application granted depends on whether the Pardons Board deems you “suitable”. The Board will consider:

  • The severity of the convicted offense
  • The impact on the crime’s victim
  • Any input from the victim
  • Your past criminal history
  • How much time has passed since the conviction
  • Your rehabilitation since the conviction was entered
  • Your work history
  • Community service
  • Character references
  • Any contact with the criminal justice system since the conviction
  • The State Attorney’s opinion
  • Any other pertinent information

What Can You Do if Your Pardon Application is Denied?

If the Pardons Board denies your application, you will get an electronic communication explaining the reason for your denial. You can file a new expungement application one year after the date of the denial, unless the Pardons Board says you must wait longer. Each application will be considered based on eligibility and suitability at the time of that application.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help Pardon Criminal Records

Many people file applications for pardon on their own, without a lawyer. However, having a criminal defense attorney on your team improves your chance that the Parole Board will grant your request, restoring your clear criminal record. During the expungement process, your criminal defense attorney acts as your advocate -- helping you tell the story of your rehabilitation and contribution to your community. A lawyer won’t speed up the process to seal or expunge your criminal record. But they can keep you from having to complete the application process more than once for the same criminal offense.

Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, The Lebedevitch Law Firm works closely with Connecticut residents struggling to overcome criminal convictions in their history. We will help you expunge your criminal record and keep you from being denied jobs, housing, or licenses because of mistakes in your past. Contact us for a free phone or video conference consultation.

Categories: Criminal Defense