October 7, 2022

Can Federal Convictions Be Expunged?


Published by Nicholas T Hart

You may have made a mistake in your past that resulted in a federal conviction. You might wonder if you can get that crime expunged from your criminal record.

However, unlike many state offenses, very few federal convictions get expunged. A knowledgeable federal expungement lawyer helps determine if you qualify for post conviction relief.

Crimes Carrying Possible Federal Charges

Crimes resulting in federal charges violate federal laws, occur on federal land, or cross state lines. There are many different types of crimes that may be charged as federal offenses. Many of those crimes parallel state offenses that may be similar. However, elements and penalties may be different.

Some common crimes that may result in federal charges include:

Can Federal Convictions Be Expunged?

When a conviction is expunged, it clears your criminal record as if it never existed. Once expunged, no one can see your federal arrest or conviction.

However, most federal offenses are not eligible for expungement. In most jurisdictions, only defendants with minor offenses under the Controlled Substances Act can get a record expungement. Federal criminal record expungement is extremely limited.

Some federal courts acknowledge a judge’s power to “make things right,” which may include expunging an arrest or conviction record. Depending on where you were convicted, you could seek an expungement of crimes other than minor drug offenses.

Important Exception for Certain Drug Charges

The federal government allows expungement for minor drug convictions, including simple possession of a controlled substance.

If a person was under 21 at the time of the offense, they can apply for an expungement, which will be automatically granted.

Also, if a person of any age is found guilty of a minor drug charge, they have no prior such offenses, and they comply with their probation, the federal court would dismiss the proceedings against them. This would clear their criminal record.

How to Expunge a Federal Conviction

There is no specified process to request a federal expunction. However, applying in the federal district court where you were convicted is best. You may also write a letter to the judge who presided over your case.

There is no published form to get an expungement. You should include your name, case number, a summary of the facts of your case, and reasons an expungement should be granted.

You must be persuasive and make claims about your rehabilitation and the miscarriage of justice if you must reveal your conviction to your employers and others.

Federal Clemency

Federal clemency is a commutation of a sentence granted by the President of the United States. It essentially reduces a federal prisoner’s ruling but does not restore other rights, such as the right to own guns.

Federal clemency was most common before the 1980s; however, it has become less frequent in recent years. Under President Barack Obama, 1,715 inmates were granted federal clemency. Despite presidents granting fewer clemencies, it is still an option for rehabilitated inmates.

A Federal Expungement Lawyer Can Evaluate Your Case

If you are interested in expunging your federal conviction, you should contact a lawyer familiar with the federal process to do so. While most people do not qualify for expungement, it may be possible to regain some of your civil rights that were removed when you were convicted.

Contact Harrison & Hart, LLC at (505) 295-3261 , or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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