Criminal convictions, and even criminal charges where you never get convicted, can have bearing on your ability to get a job, live in a safe neighborhood and overall reintegrate into society.
For those reasons, Louisiana has some of the most generous expungement laws of any state. An Expungement allows your criminal records to be hidden from the public eye, making it easier to apply for loans, enter into lease agreements, and get a job.
In most states, sealing your record is reserved for individuals charged but never convicted. However, Louisiana’s law is much more lenient. We allow for most misdemeanor to be expunged even after conviction and felony expungement under specific circumstances.
Although the Louisiana law is quite forgiving in this regard, it still has its limitations.
Felonies ineligible for expungement
Louisiana law lists a few felony charges that are not eligible for expungement.
These felonies include:
- Sex crimes (However, you should consult with a lawyer about your crime as the definition of sex crimes has changed over the years, which could allow your records to be eligible for expungement under new crime definitions.)
- Domestic abuse or domestic violence (Again, consult with a lawyer if you were arrested but never convicted of this crime as the arrest records could be expunged.)
- Crimes where the victim was under the age of 18
- A violent crime as outlined in Louisiana Revised Statute 14:2 (B) (These violent crimes include murder and manslaughter, aggravated and second-degree kidnapping, aggravated arson, armed robbery, shootings of all kinds, aggravated crime against nature, home invasion, etc.)
- Drug crimes for selling or making drugs where you were convicted or pleaded guilty to the crime
Louisiana law on expungement
To be eligible for expungement, you must meet some criteria.
- If you were charged with, arrested for, or had a bench warrant out for your arrest for a crime, but you were never convicted, you are eligible for expungement. Even sex crimes, violent crimes, and crimes involving minors can be expunged if you were not convicted, but there are very special rules for sex crimes so you should ask a lawyer for help.
- If you have many arrests that did not result in convictions, you can have all of them cleared at once.
- If you’ve been convicted of a felony that does not fall under the exclusions listed above for sex crimes, violent crimes, crimes involving minors, or distribution or manufacturing of a controlled dangerous substance, you can be eligible for expungement 10 years after completing your jail sentence or probation in most cases.
Recently, Louisiana law made the path to expungement simpler by removing the requirement that you be employed for 10 consecutive years after completing your jail sentence. Under Act 71 that the 2020 Regular Legislative Session passed, this requirement has been removed.
As another part of the 2020 Regular Legislative Session, Act 132 made it possible to have criminal records expunged if you took part in a pretrial diversion program.
Get Help with you Louisiana expungement with an attorney
The first step on your journey to expungement is to discuss the matter with a Louisiana attorney. Your attorney can advise you as to whether or not you’re eligible for expungement and explain the process in detail.
With your attorney’s help, you’ll file an motion with the court ordering your criminal record to be hidden from the general public — including potential employers.
Under expungement laws, certain officials, such as law enforcement or individuals working for state agencies, might still be able to see your record. However, for the most part, your criminal history will not be a conversation topic and you can even tell potential employers you have not been convicted of a crime.
This makes it very difficult to start again after being charged with or convicted of a crime. So, the main benefit of filing an application for expungement is the ability to return to a normal life with a great job. Many landlords, lenders, employers and even schools and universities will not take applicants who have a criminal history. Expungement can be the key to normalcy for you and your family.