Yes. Your record can be expunged in Mississippi if the charges were dismissed.
Many people who are arrested for crimes are not ultimately convicted. Charges may be dismissed at the request of the prosecutor, police or victim. Some charges are dismissed by the Court on pretrial motions by the defense. Convictions are also avoided when the Defendant is acquitted at trial.
If the charges are dismissed or the Defendant is found not guilty at trial, does that mean that the Defendant has a clean record? Unfortunately, the answer is no. When charges are dismissed, most people think that their record is clean. Much to their surprise, they later learn that even though they have no conviction, the record of the arrest will remain with them forever. Many people learn this when they are not hired for a job after the employer does a background check.
Each time a police officer makes an arrest, a record of the arrest is made in several places. A written record of the arrest (reports, fingerprint cards, mug shots, etc.) is made by the officer and kept at the records division of the agency that made the arrest. After the arrest, the police will forward the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The records are also usually forwarded to a central records agency maintained by the State. Records of the arrest also appear in the Court where the case will be handled. These databases provide the information which is contained in a person’s “rap sheet.”
Once an arrest is reported to NCIC and docketed in the public court records, the record of the arrest stays there forever. The arrest should be noted as an “arrest,” as opposed to a “conviction.” However, these types of details are often overlooked or misconstrued when information is entered into the databases. The distinction between an arrest and a conviction on a rap sheet is so notoriously unreliable that even the police don’t rely on that designation. Further, potential employers who are conducting criminal background checks on applicants typically do not inquire as to whether the person was simply arrested for the crime, or if he was actually convicted. Some employers will simply see the charge and then decline to hire the applicant.
However, there is hope if you find yourself in this situation. Mississippi law provides for expungement of records where criminal charges were dismissed or the Defendant was otherwise not convicted of the crime. Just like other types of expungements, the records of the arrest will be destroyed and deleted, and no record of the arrest will exist.
The Courts will not automatically expunge the record for you. You must retain a criminal defense lawyer to prepare a petition for expungement and obtain an Order from the Court to expunge the arrest and charge from your record.
If you were arrested for a criminal offense, but never convicted, there is no reason to allow the arrest to remain on your record. You should take action immediately to have the record expunged. Contact Jackson, MS expungement lawyer Curt Crowley