An expungement is a legislatively enacted process by which you ask the court to seal your criminal arrests and convictions from the public. If your request for an expungement is granted, in all but a few limited circumstances, you can legally answer and represent that you have never been arrested or convicted of the crime that has been expunged.

To be eligible for an expungement, you must meet certain conditions: First, your conviction must not be for a crime that has been deemed by the legislature to be ineligible for the expungement. There are currently approximately 20 convictions that can’t be expunged. For example, convictions for murder, rape, and indecent liberties with a child are not eligible to be expunged. Notably, this means that most Kansas convictions are eligible to be expunged if the statutory requirements are met. It is also important to note that even if a crime is currently listed as ineligible to be expunged, you may still be able to qualify for an expungement if your crime was eligible for expungement at the time of conviction.

If your conviction is for a crime that is eligible for expungement, then a certain number of years must have passed since you have satisfied your obligation to the court. In other words, once you have satisfied the sentence imposed or are off papers (diversion, probation, community corrections, parole, etc…) you are eligible to have your convictions expunged once the statutorily amount of time has elapsed. For most misdemeanors and lower level felonies, that period of time is 3 years. For higher level felonies and some misdemeanors, the time frame is 5 years. There are some notable exceptions related to DUI expungements that should be discussed with an attorney.

As an example, let’s say you were sentenced to 1 year of probation for a conviction of a misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana charge on June 30, 2011. On June 30, 2012, you successfully completed your probation for the marijuana conviction. On July 1, 2012, the clock starts ticking on the 3 year time period that must elapse before you are eligible, making July 1, 2015 the date that you can petition the court for an expungement.

The next requirement is that you cannot have any pending felonies and cannot have been convicted of a felony in the 2 years prior to your request for an expungement. If all of these requirements are met and the judge finds that your expungement is consistent with the public welfare, your conviction will be expunged.

For a typical expungement, the entire process takes approximately 6-8 weeks from the time that you submit your expungement documents until the time the judge signs your order expunging your conviction. Once this Order is filed with the clerk, it takes at least approximately two more weeks for the clerk’s office to notify all of the governmental agencies that have a record of your conviction to seal your records.

The critical factor in this entire process is that an individual’s criminal history is not cleared simply because a certain amount of time has passed. Expungements do not happen automatically – an individual with a criminal history must initiate the expungement proceedings.

There are forms and instructions available online to assist individuals with this process:

Wichita Municipal Court Expungement forms and instructions are located at http://www.wichita.gov/Government/Departments/Court/MunicipalCourtDocuments/ExpungmentofConvictionsorDiversionsandRelatedArrestRecords217.pdf

Sedgwick County District Court Expungement forms and instructions are located at http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/da/documents/adult%20conviction%20expungement%20form.pdf

The Kansas Judicial Council has also provided instructions and sample forms that may be used in other Kansas Judicial Districts, and can be found at http://www.kansasjudicialcouncil.org/forms/adult_expungement_forms.shtml .

Criminal convictions can be a significant barrier to an individual seeking employment, educational and housing opportunities. The expungement process allows you to remove that barrier by sealing your criminal record and treating you as if you were never arrested or convicted of the crime that is expunged. 

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