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Can a Class 5 Felony Be Expunged?

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As felons know, a federal conviction will follow them for the rest of their life as long as it remains on their record.

One way to deal with a felony record is to seek to have a felony expunged.  With this, a felony can be dismissed from their record along with the consequences that go along with it.

A felony expungement will show that they were rehabilitated and keep potential employers from viewing the felony on their record.

This blog post will cover whether a Felony 5 can be expunged.

  • Classification of Felonies
  • Eligibility to Have a Felony Expunged
  • Effects of Having a Felony Expunged
  • Supporting a Felon After the Expungement Decision


Classification of Felonies

Felonies are categorized according to their severity.

The most serious crimes, such as murder and some drug related offenses, fall into the highest category, Felony 1.  These are the ones which carry the longest prison sentences.

In the lowest class of felonies are such crimes as possession of a small amount of certain drugs, receiving a stolen firearm, internet gambling, or sale of child pornography.

Below the level of felonies, of course, are misdemeanors.  These are less serious crimes, with domestic violence and DUI being the most common.

Each state has the responsibility for the classification of felonies, ranging from the most serious down to those considered to be the least severe.

All states use a similar classification system, dividing felonies into between three to six categories.

Some states use a letter classification system for felonies, ranging from Class A, the highest, to Class D or E, depending on how many categories that state uses.

Other states use a numbering system going from Class 1, the most serious, to Class 5, the least serious.

A Class 5 felony is not as severe as a Class 1 felony and carries a shorter sentence.  Crimes classified as Class 5, typically include a sentence 18 to 24 months.

Class 5 felonies can include such crimes as aggravated assault, distribution conspiracy of drugs, conspiracy to distribute, possession of a controlled substance, grand theft, and many more.

Class 5 felonies vary between states while some states do not have this classification.

Crimes which fall within the lowest classification may qualify for some type of adjudicated sentence and typically don’t include mandatory prison time.

This is if the crime did not involve violence and the use of a deadly weapon, and if the accused person does not have any previous criminal record.  Otherwise, the sentence will typically carry a prison term.

Eligibility to Have a Felony Expunged

Not everyone is eligible to have a felony expunged from their record.  Most first-time felons can have a felony expunged.

Expungement is granted by the governor of the state where the conviction occurred.

Each state has its own laws regarding felony expungement.  It will be essential to review this process for a particular state before proceeding.  Consulting with legal counsel will be important in this process.

Felons must have completed all aspects of their sentence.  They must have been out of prison anywhere from five to ten years, depending on the state before being eligible to apply.

They must also have finished probation and not owe any fines or restitution resulting from their felony.

Those felons who have the best chances for expungement are those who have only a single felony on their record.  If they have a lengthy legal history of misdemeanor convictions, their chances to have their record expunged will be diminished.

The nature of the original felony also makes a difference.

Those felonies not eligible for expungement are those that carry a mandatory prison sentence.  That would include felonies in the highest level of severity.

Felonies that are usually not eligible for expungement include sexual crimes, child pornography, crimes in which the victim is younger than 18, and many violent crimes.

Class 5 felonies are the lowest class and usually don’t have mandatory prison time, making those offenses eligible to be expunged.

It is also easier to obtain expungement if felons can document how they have improved themselves since their release through education, training and work experience.

Also, felons must have maintained a clean record since being released from prison.

They must have remained free from drug or alcohol dependency for at least one year and been rehabilitated according to the court, if that was a part of the original sentence.

Felons must have obtained a high school diploma or GED.  They must also have completed at least one year of community service, according to the court.

Effects of Having a Felony Expunged

Felons with an expunged record must still make their records available under particular circumstances.

They must be made available to a licensing office when attempting to obtain a license to carry a firearm and to law enforcement when felons are involved in a criminal investigation.

They are allowed to be viewed by federal, state, or city employers when applying for a job related to investigation or prosecution of people under civil or criminal statutes.

Many states allow consideration of expunged records for jobs in courts or within the juvenile legal system.

In some states, felons who want to apply for jobs such as public school teachers, corrections officers, or police officers may have their expunged records accessed.

When applying for professional licenses, such as law or medicine, agencies are allowed access to those records.

In many states, felons can receive an expungement only once.   After that, such records cannot be sealed again.

If felons are arrested for later crimes, the seriousness of the new crime may become higher if there is a prior conviction.  This includes crimes that have been expunged.

Just as an expunged record is considered in determining the seriousness of a crime, it will also be evaluated when determining the sentence if felons are convicted of a new crime.

They will be considered a repeat offender.  Prior offenses, even though expunged in states that have a third strike rule for more extreme sentencing, such as California, will always remain considered.

If an expungement is not granted, felons will be informed of the reason for denial, the steps they can take to reapply, and how long they have to wait to reapply.

Supporting the Felon after the Expungement Decision

Remember to prepare for a good or bad outcome.

For families of felons who have had their record expunged, reinforce their efforts and the challenges they faced in going through the expungement process.

If they can work hard enough to accomplish that, they can achieve so much more.

Felons shouldn’t lose hope if their felony is not expunged.

For families of felons who have been turned down for expungement, continue to be there and be supportive.  Do not allow your loved one to give up.  Help them live the right way.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a Class 5 felony can be expunged?  Have you or someone you know been through this process?  What was that like and were they successful?   Please tell us in the comments below.

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