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Do Misdemeanors Go Away?

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Your misdemeanor is blocking your access to job opportunities, and you’re wondering: “Do misdemeanors go away?” Get all the answers in our guide.


Do Misdemeanors Go Away? (And Everything Else to Know)

If you have a misdemeanor conviction, you may have a lot of questions about your future. How can it affect your employment? Do misdemeanors go away? What can you do? It can be very stressful to figure out what steps to take. Once you break the process down, your next steps will become clear. Read on to find out what you need to know about your misdemeanor conviction.

What Is a Misdemeanor Conviction?

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense typically punished with less than 12 months of jail time. These crimes are less serious than a felony, which has a punishment of more than 12 months of jail time.

When you get convicted of a misdemeanor, you will often see punishment like fines, community service, probation, or jail time. Felonies see jail time. With a more serious crime, you will get more jail time.

Is a Misdemeanor on Your Criminal Record?

Even though a misdemeanor is considered a less serious crime than a felony, they still are a crime and will go on your criminal record. When you get a misdemeanor conviction, you still count as being convicted of a crime.

It will be on your criminal record forever unless you get it expunged by a judge.

Do Misdemeanors Go Away?

Once you get convicted of a misdemeanor, you have it for life. It will not go away even after serving your time or completing your community service. It may be a minor crime, but in the eyes of the law, a misdemeanor gets taken very seriously.

How Long Do Misdemeanors Stay on Your Record?

Criminal convictions will typically stay on your record unless you get them removed. Many places don’t check more than a certain amount of years in background checks. Most background checks may look around 7-10 years back. If your misdemeanor is old enough, it may not show up anymore. It will still be on your record, though.

It is very dependent on the circumstances. While the general rule for background checks is seven years, many places have no restrictions on how far back the search goes. Different charges may follow someone around more than others. A recent misdemeanor assault charge may see more consideration when someone views your criminal record more than they would a shoplifting charge from 20 years ago. Some states will expunge some misdemeanors but refuse to erase others.

Will a Misdemeanor Affect Employment?

If your misdemeanor is recent enough to show up on a background check, your prospective employer will see it. It is illegal to deny someone employment solely based on their criminal background. It is unfair, but it is up to them and their company’s policies to decide whether to move forward in hiring you. They have to have a good enough reason why they could not hire you because of your specific misdemeanor conviction.

How Hard Is It To Get a Job With a Criminal Record?

Employers may see someone with a criminal record as a liability, even if it is just one misdemeanor. They likely won’t say they chose not to hire you because of your criminal record. They may just quietly move on if your criminal record is an issue. Denying employment because someone has a criminal record is not allowed, but it is hard to police. If prompted, they can give any other reason for why they did not hire you.

There are many widely available lists of employers that hire felons, so it is possible to find a job with a criminal record. There are also entire groups dedicated to getting information to convicted felons about companies that hire them. You can go into many trades with a criminal record or find a company known for hiring people with criminal records.

You will likely lose out on job opportunities because of your criminal record. Remember that everyone loses job opportunities because they do not appeal to a hiring team. Other people with criminal records may have gotten turned down for that same job. It is not ever personal, even if it feels like it. There is the right employer for you.

How Do You Get a Misdemeanor Expunged?

Getting your misdemeanor expunged is the only way to erase it from your record. You go before a judge when you want to get a charge expunged. They will decide whether to grant you the expungement. If they do allow it, your records will not be accessible anymore.

Once your misdemeanor gets expunged, it’s like it didn’t happen, essentially. If an employer asks if you have ever gotten convicted of a crime, you can say no.

Most commonly, a judge will allow juvenile records to get expunged. Each state has different rules on who can have their records expunged and what they can erase, so you need to look into the specific rules for where you live.

The easiest way to figure out how to start getting your records wiped is to search online. You can also hire an attorney to assist you through the process. Remember that getting your record expunged is a long, complicated process. Hiring an attorney can ensure you follow the correct steps to get it done.

Getting a Misdemeanor Expoged—Step by Step

First, look through the rules for your state to determine whether you qualify. There is a chance you will not qualify depending on where you live. In some states, your misdemeanor may need to be several years old for consideration. Others don’t allow for an adult to truly expunge convictions from their record.

If you do qualify, there should be forms for you to fill out. You may be able to fill them out online, but if you can’t, you should visit your court to get these, and that will allow you to file a petition to expunge your misdemeanor. These typically need to be filed in the court that charged you.

The district attorney will review your criminal record to determine whether they will expunge it. The district attorney will be alerted to your request, and their office will file any objections they have to the expungement.

After that, you will get a court date. At the hearing, the judge will listen to your case. If the DA filed any opposition, they listen to the opposition. Then it is up to the judge to decide whether to grant you an expungement.

After this, it will take around two months for your record to get cleared of the charge.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Criminal Record Expunged?

Like most processes in court, there will be fees to get your criminal record expunged.

If you hire an attorney, you will have those fees to pay unless they take the case pro bono. Pro bono is when an attorney takes your case unpaid, volunteering their time to help you.

There will be filing fees for any documents, which can cost up to $1,000. The more crimes you are filing to expunge, the more it will cost. If you can’t afford this, you should find an attorney who does pro bono work.


While misdemeanors may be on your record forever, you can go through the process to get them removed. Doing this may vastly improve your life and open up many more employment opportunities. You can do it by yourself or with the help of an attorney, but it will likely cost you either way.

So what do you think about this blog post about misdemeanors going away? Have you or someone you know been in that situation? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

If you have any questions, leave a comment so we can help you.

Do Misdemeanors Go Away?, How Long Does A Background Check Take In 2023

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