Getting in trouble with the law is never pretty, nor should it be. Sometimes it is simply a misunderstanding that balloons out of control, other times we know we deserved what happened but we still wish we had not taken that last ugly step. Whatever the reason you now have some type of legal file hanging over your head, it doesn’t have to mean you can never drive or work again.

There are ways to take control of this background, but you can’t do it unless you get help. For that you will need the services of the right kind of lawyer, like the ones you will find when you go to for help. The next steps will be up to you, but if you are smart you will follow these steps and get that file cleaned up quickly.

Background Checks

These are the kind of checks that many organizations will do before they hire you. You want to be able to see exactly what they will see when they run these checks. This is the first step in finding out just what is on record for you and seeing what you can change, expunge or will have to live with for a time. You can do this yourself but there are also some legal firms that will have a junior lawyer do it who has plenty of experience in finding what is out there with your name on it.

The important thing to understand in this type of initial search is that it will only show records for arrests that resulted in a trial. Anything that has happened that stopped before it actually went to court will never show up on a search of this type. You are always allowed to search your own records, but it is a good idea to head out to the local courthouse in person so you can prove who you are and that you have a right to request this information.

The FBI and Other Jurisdictions

If you have reason to believe there are outstanding arrest warrants on you from another jurisdiction, you can send in a request to see these from the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services division. For a small fee, they will send you anything that is still on the records in every state of the union. If you have moved around a lot, this is a good way to find the information quickly.

When You Have Stood Trial

If you have indeed stood trial in a court case and you want to remove that record, you can petition for it to be sealed or expunged. Each state has different rules on what can be expunged and how, so be sure to check and see what is needed in the state where an actual criminal record shows up in your search.

Keep in mind that it is often possible to have all records of this action removed permanently from your files when you start this petition process. If the act was nonviolent you will have a good chance of having it expunged under the Second Chances Act. Having a lawyer that understands these laws and knows how to have them applied to your case will greatly increase your chances of being successful.

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